USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Create New Economic Opport. - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Create New Economic Opportunities

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From: Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

Alabama will receive almost $380,000 in funding to distribute to 13 specific project initiatives that have been approved as part of USDA's 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program awards.

"We are pleased to partner with USDA and administer the Specialty Crop Block Grant program in Alabama," said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. "We are excited about many of the 2013 projects and are encouraged that these projects will enhance production and consumption of specialty crops in Alabama."

All Alabama project recipients will attend a kickoff meeting on October 11, 2013, at the State Department of Agriculture and Industries headquarters in Montgomery. At this meeting, official contracts will be signed and the specific details of each project's plan of action will be available for release.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will invest $52 million in grants nationwide to support America's specialty crop producers through the 2013 SCBG Program awards.  The funding includes 54 block grants to U.S. states and territories that will support 694 initiatives nationwide.  These grants will assist producers of fresh fruits and vegetables and help strengthen markets for specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. 

"These investments will strengthen rural American communities by supporting local and regional markets and improving access to fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables for millions of Americans," said Secretary Vilsack.  "These grants also help growers make food safety enhancements, solve research needs, and make better informed decisions to increase profitability and sustainability."

The goal of the grant program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crop producers.  All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam received grants this year.

Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has awarded over $293 million.  The program is part of USDA's integrated approach to programs and policies that stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development. A growing number of specialty crop producers are selling into local and regional markets. 

Visit www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp to read the 2013 project summaries and view a list of awards by location. 

The Specialty Crop Block Grants, administered by USDA's AMS are designed to help strengthen the market for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. AMS encourages states to develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen local economies.

For more information on Alabama's SCBG program, contact Hassey Brooks at Hassey.Brooks@agi.alabama.gov or by phone at 334.240-3877.

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