U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced last week the awarding of $55 million, through the Specialty Crop Block Grants, to fund 748 projects throughout the U.S and its territories. Specialty crops include things like nursery and greenhouse crops, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and Christmas trees. More than three-quarters of the dollars went to support projects that are focused on marketing, education, dealing with pest and disease issues, and research.
In recognizing the economic significance of specialty crops, which are responsible for nearly half of farmgate receipts, and the fact that agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the U.S., Vilsack said, "by investing in projects that stimulate growth and development for specialty crop growers of all sizes, we're helping American farmers establish a marketplace for new businesses opportunities in each region of the country." In pointing out the need for foundational investment to support the industry Vilsack added, “the grants also help growers solve technology needs or make better informed decisions on profitability and sustainability, leading to stronger rural American communities and businesses."
Many of the projects to receive financial support were things like:
- “Plant Something” — A successful marketing program focused on landscape plants that started in Arizona but looks to be a national promotion.
- Pre-emergent herbicide studies evaluating efficacy and plant tolerance for nurseries and Christmas tree operations in Ohio.
- Education and training of boxwood blight risk management practices in Oregon.
To get a complete list and description of the funded projects please click here