Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack while in Miami, Florida announced nearly $118 million in grants to strengthen markets for specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. The grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture.
Sales of specialty crops total nearly $65 billion per year, making them a critical part of the U.S. economy. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), will provide $66 million to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and programs to increase demand. In addition, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding $51.8 million in grants through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). SCRI supports the specialty crop sector by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops.
Together, these investments represent USDA’s commitment to strengthening the specialty crop industry. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers, strengthening risk management tools, expanding access to rural credit, funding critical research, establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships, developing new markets for rural-made products, and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
You can listen to Secretary Vilsack’s press conference here: Press Conference Call with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA