WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service on Wednesday announced $72.9 million awarded to 55 states and territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
The grant program provides funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research.
“USDA is excited to announce that this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant awards marks over $1 billion invested in nearly 12,000 projects that support the U.S. specialty crop industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is a critical piece of USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to support small and mid-sized producers and ensure Americans have sustained access to fresh, locally grown specialty crop products.”
Fiscal year 2023 SCBGP funding is awarded to the departments of agriculture in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Funding for SCBGP is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.
States are encouraged to subaward funding to projects that address the needs of U.S. producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. Funded projects include investing in food safety, specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes, developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops, and pest and disease control. Additional projects focus on increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; and improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.