California is receiving more than $23.4 million for specialty crop support for Fiscal Year 2022 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded the funding support through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). A total of 50 projects in California are being funded through the program. The project awards are being administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
“USDA applauds California’s continued commitment to supporting our nation’s producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a news release. “The projects funded will foster innovative research and new market opportunities within the specialty crop sector, while furthering USDA’s goals of creating a more fair and equitable food system and supporting local and regional producers.”
The most substantial project being supported through the grant funding is the Grown to be Great project, administered by the California Grown Buy California Marketing Agreement. More than $2.5 million will be used for a multiplatform campaign incorporating retail and food service promotions to increase demand for California specialty crops. Other projects include efforts to increase the consumption of raisins, prunes, and sweet potatoes. Several University of California projects being supported through the program address a variety of issues including nitrogen budgeting and water stress. Multiple projects will also provide training and extension materials to industry members.
Project funding is awarded for a three-year period which will officially begin on September 30. The specialty crop support California is receiving is part of the overall total of $72.9 million being awarded through the SCBGP. USDA has invested more than $953 million through the SCBGP since 2006. More than 11,000 projects supported through the program have helped specialty crop growers with production, market expansion, and overall competitiveness of the industry.