California receives $21.3M through Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

California receives $21.3M through Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

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California receives $21.3M through Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced funding for the 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) with California receiving $21.3 million out of approximately $72.9 million awarded nationwide.

The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is very important to the State of California as the largest producer of specialty crops,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross.

“This program supports local and regional needs of farmers and ranchers to help them be competitive and also improves access to healthy California grown foods. We appreciate this partnership with USDA in making these funds available,” she added.

CDFA will fund 50 projects, awarding grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities.

These projects focus on increasing sales of specialty crops by leveraging the unique qualities of specialty crops grown in California, increasing consumption by expanding the specialty crop consumer market, improving food availability and providing nutritional education for consumers.

In addition, the projects will invest in training for growers/producers/operators to address current and future challenges, conduct research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.

Furthermore, CDFA is continuing its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety in the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These projects represent an ongoing effort to address food safety practices and minimize outbreaks of foodborne illness with proactive research.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Program was originally authorized by the 2004 Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act and received mandatory Farm Bill funding through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Since 2008, the program has invested a total of over $321 million.

To read the 2022 SCBGP project abstracts please click here.

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