The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has awarded a total of $72.9 million in the fiscal year 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding.
The awards were made to the departments of agriculture in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to a news release.
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt was joined by U.S. Representative Kim Schrier to make the announcement during a visit to Washington state on Aug. 25.
The block grant funding for specialty crops supports farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops, the release said.
“USDA is excited to fund innovative research and new market opportunities to further support specialty crop producers,” Under Secretary Moffitt said in the release. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program continues to strengthen the food system, and USDA looks forward to seeing the impact these funds will have on the specialty crops sector.”
The release said the grants will be used to fund projects that support the specialty crop industry by enhancing food safety, investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes, developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops, and improving strategies for pest and disease control.
In addition, some projects will focus on increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops and improving efficiency and reducing costs of produce distribution systems, according to the release.
Funding for the specialty crop block grants is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and fiscal year 2022 funding is awarded for a three-year period beginning September 30 this year.
Since 2006, USDA has invested more than $953 million through the SCBGP to fund 11,331 projects that have increased the long-term successes of producers and broadened the market for specialty crops in the U.S. and abroad, according to the agency.
A complete list of press releases announcing each state and territory grant award is available on the AMS website here.
A complete list of this year’s SCBGP grant recipients is available on the AMS website here.