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Minnesota specialty crop producers and programs get boost from USDA

The State of Minnesota has been awarded more than $700,000 in 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flo...

The State of Minnesota has been awarded more than $700,000 in 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants (horticulture and floriculture). The grants will give producers of these crops a competitive edge in today's marketplace.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for fiscal year 2012 supports initiatives that:

Increase nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption

Improve efficiency within the distribution system and reduce costs

Promote the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit fund cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors

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Support research through standard and green initiatives

Enhance food safety

Develop new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops

Control pests and diseases

Create organic and sustainable production practices

Establish local and regional fresh food systems

Expand food access in underserved/food desert communities

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands received grants this year, totaling $55 million.

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Visit www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp to review the 2012 project summaries and view a list of all the awards, including the Minnesota projects.

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