State receives more than $22 million in federal grant funds from Farm Bill
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received more than $22.3 million out of approximately $62.6 million awarded nationwide.
The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).
“This is essential funding that the USDA provides each year through the Farm Bill,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Grant recipients help all Californians through a wide variety of activities that provide numerous examples of how the Farm Bill’s reach extends far beyond agriculture.”
CDFA will fund 72 projects, awarding grants ranging from $50,000 to $450,000 to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities. Selected through a competitive process, these projects focus on increasing sales of specialty crops by leveraging the California Grown identity; by increasing consumption through expansion of the specialty crop consumer market; by improving availability and providing nutritional education for consumers; by training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; and by conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.
CDFA is continuing its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety through 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.
Additionally, CDFA is introducing fixed amount awards to fund projects addressing two urgent priorities in specialty crop agriculture: helping farmers meet Food Safety Modernization Act standards; and helping them adapt to California’s historic drought with methods that reduce water use or improve efficiency.