Support For Specialty Crop Producers

Support For Specialty Crop Producers

Support For Specialty Crop Producers

I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program would be providing $66 million to state departments of agriculture to help support producers of specialty crops, which include fruits,vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture, and nursery crops.

VILSACK: It's one of the fastest growing aspects of agricultural exports, and is obviously not only an income producer for farmers but also a job creator. And so it's appropriate that Congress in the recently passed Farm Bill, signed by the President, included additional funding for specialty crops under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The specialty crop business is one that caters not just to large orchards and growers but also to a producer that may have a handful of acres but is selling directly to a farmers market or a roadside stand, or a local school.

Here in Washington the 2014 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant will provide more than $4.2 million in grant funding to 27 projects managed by the WSDA and other partnering organizations. Hops and wine grapes, tree fruit and berries, potatoes, christmas trees, and honey bees are among the ag sectors that will be benefitting from this year's grants, with awards for individual projects ranging from $20 thousand to $250 thousand. These resources will be used for a variety of purposes, such as marketing specialty crops, research for plant health, increasing productivity, and irrigation water strategies. Washington state is the third largest producer of specialty crops in the U.S..

That's Washington Ag Today.

I'm Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.

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