The United States Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2015 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received $19.7 million out of approximately $63 million awarded nationwide.
The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to carry out projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).
“Specialty crops define much of California agriculture,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross. “This grant funding is an important piece of our partnership with the USDA as we work together to promote and protect a part of the food supply that is relied upon in California, across the country and around the world.”
With the $19.7 million, the CDFA will fund 66 projects focusing on market enhancement, specialty crop access and nutrition education, equipping current and next-generation specialty crop farmers, environmental stewardship and conservation, and plant health and pest management. Selected through a competitive process, these projects include, but are not limited to: expanding opportunities for specialty crop producers, marketing orders, and other specialty crop stakeholder groups through innovative marketing and promotional activities; improving nutritional awareness of children and adults, and increasing consumption of specialty crops; training and equipping the next generation of young and beginning farmers in agronomic, economic, and environmental stewardship skills; developing and implementing beneficial management practices that improve farm viability, the agricultural economy, and the environment; and developing new tools to detect, eradicate, and control pests and diseases.
In addition, CDFA partnered with the Center for Produce Safety in the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These projects represent an ongoing effort to address food safety practices and minimize outbreaks of foodborne illness with proactive research.
The 2015 SCBGP project abstracts are available at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Specialty_Crop_Competitiveness_Grants/pdfs/2015SCBGP_ProjectAbstracts.pdf
For more information, see the program’s website at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.