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Minnesota specialty crop producers and programs get boost from USDA

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The State of Minnesota will get a share of $55 million dollars in 2010 Specialty Crop Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program supports projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The 2010 federal allocation is 10 percent higher than last year's funding.

USDA selected Minnesota projects that support local and rural agriculture interests, increase the competitiveness of small producers, and promote or create direct marketing opportunities for specialty crop producers.

Minnesota was awarded $802,718 to fund 12 projects, including the cost of administering the grants.

A complete list of the 2010 recipients can be viewed at .

Minnesota growers interested in these grant opportunities to enhance their specialty crops are encouraged to participate in a free USDA webinar that will provide information on how they can apply for the 2011 grants. The webinar will be conducted Thursday, December 16 at 1:00 p.m. (CST). To register for the webinar, visit or email David Weinand, Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant specialist, or call 651-201-6646.

MDA is also planning to host informational meetings on the 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in Moorhead and St. Paul early next year.