11 IA organizations receive grants to promote specialty crops

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Tuesday), announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will be awarding $244,000 in grants to Iowa organizations to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. Among the recipients is: The Southern Iowa RC&D in Creston - which received $23,928 to gather economic and social impact data in rural southwest Iowa to support specialty crop production; and, the Golden Hills RC&D in Oakland -  which received $24,000 to support creating, marketing and promoting the Iowa Loess Hill AVA Wine Trail.

The IA Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship received $271,296.81 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to support the program. Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups were eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

“Specialty Crops”  eligible under the program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.  The funds not passed through to Iowa organizations will be used by the Department to administer the grant. The maximum grant award from the Department to sub-grantees is $24,000 and administrative and indirect costs are not allowed. The Department received 29 proposals requesting assistance and the 11 chosen were selected by an independent review committee of nine industry stakeholders.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey said “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products. ” Northey says “These federal funds will support a variety of efforts that will make these Iowa grown crops more available and encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers that are produced right here in our state.”