California to Fund 46 Specialty Crop Projects Through 2023 SCBGP

Brian GermanFunding, Industry, Specialty Crops

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will be funding 46 specialty crop projects through grant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Projects are aimed at bolstering specialty crop competitiveness and developing new market opportunities. The funding is made possible through the Fiscal Year 2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).

Specialty Crop Projects

“USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program provides opportunities for California’s specialty crop growers to enhance innovation across the food system,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a press release. “From enhancing nutrition and education in schools, to expanding consumer markets and increasing research in critical areas of food safety. CDFA’s partnership with USDA on this program furthers the competitiveness of the specialty crop sector on the national level with a lens of equity and a commitment to climate resilience.”

A total of $23.9 million is being invested in a variety of different specialty crop projects. The largest award has been presented to the Buy California Marketing Agreement. A grant award of $2.5 million is to be used to increase consumer demand for California specialty crops and specialty crop products. The Regents of the University of California, Riverside will use a grant of $487,077 to expand market opportunities for California avocados.

Projects to enhance environmental stewardship and conservation within specialty crop production are also receiving grant support. Some of the projects include studying water and heat stress in chili peppers, irrigation practices in pistachio orchards, and evapotranspiration in orchards and vineyards. Several projects aim to provide nutritional education to support more consumption of specialty crop products. Projects from the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, Common Threads, and 18 Reasons have all received grant funding to support educational efforts.  

Funding for the SCBGP grants is authorized through the 2018 Farm Bill. Fiscal Year 2023 funding is awarded for a three-year period that will begin on September 30. USDA has invested over $1 billion in nearly 12,000 projects through the SCBGP since 2006. Proposals are currently being accepted for the 2024 cycle of the program.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West