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California leads nation in specialty crop funding

POSTED October 25, 2013 5:12 p.m.

The lion’s share of the federally sponsored Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will be headed to California this year, the United States Department of Agriculture announced.

California will be receiving $18 million of the allotted $52 million block grant. The SCBGP provides grants to states to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.

“We are grateful for this partnership with the USDA and our stakeholders,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This program, which is made possible by the Farm Bill, provides investment in California agriculture at a time when there are tremendous opportunities to meet the demands of local and international markets for new products, while continually improving our food safety and environmental stewardship practices."

Market enhancement, agriculture education, nutrition, and research proposals were solicited and selected through a competitive process. The 64 projects funded under the 2013 SCBGP reflect the diversity of California’s specialty crops across the state. This year they include, but are not limited to: creating economic opportunities for specialty crop producers through market development activities that focus on local, regional, or international markets; development of effective agritourism associations to enhance rural tourism and promote specialty crops; food safety benefits and training programs; growing community food systems in underserved neighborhoods; online irrigation nitrogen management tool for cool season vegetables; and research to mitigate impacts of invasive pests.

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