Grants awarded to enhance specialty crops production

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Wednesday, announced that the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will award more than $260,500 in grants to Iowa organization, to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in the state. The department received more than $276,500 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to support the program.

Among the grant recipients, was Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, which was awarded $18,343 for building capacity for southwest Iowa local food producers, to increase specialty crop competitiveness in the region. And, Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development was awarded a $24,000 grant for “Farm to where you are: Creating and Enhancing Markets for Southern Iowa Specialty Crop Producers.” In addition, the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a little more than $55,000, to support connecting growers and schools through the “Farm to School Program.”

Bill Northey says “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture, as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.” He says the federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts, that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers, that are produced in the state. Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, along with producer groups, were eligible to aplly for funding, to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.