IDALS Awarded $103,000 to Support Specialty Crops

Funds will assist Iowa growers of fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers and other alternative crops.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced in late May that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has received a $103,249.43 grant from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The program assists state departments of agriculture in enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery crops, including flowers.

"Specialty crops have a special place in Iowa agriculture, allowing farmers to diversify and giving customers access to locally grown products," says Northey. "These funds will support several marketing and promotional projects designed to increase awareness and consumption of the specialty crops found in Iowa."

How the money will be used in Iowa

Specifically, funds will support the distribution of the Mazes, Apples, Pumpkins, Strawberries brochure at Iowa Welcome Centers; Every Day Cook cooking demonstrations at farmers markets; recipe cards featuring Iowa specialty crops; promoting agritourism; and an Iowa Farmers Market Week/National Farmers Market Week one-day event at the Iowa State Fair.

Forty percent of the grant will also be distributed to eight specialty crop organizations for marketing and promoting efforts. The groups were awarded funds after submitting proposals through a competitive grants process. The groups receiving funds and how they will be used are listed as follows:

* Cedar Falls Main St. Farmers Market – Increasing Sales at the Midweek Market in Downtown Cedar Falls
* Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association – a Seminar on promotion techniques
* Mississippi Valley Growers Assoc., Inc. – Nutritional Value of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Promotion at the Bettendorf Farmers Market
* Southeast Iowa Nut Growers – Education, Promotion, Marketing and Produce Development for Locally Grown Chestnuts
* Practical Farmers of Iowa – Building a Direct-to-Consumer Food Distribution System in Iowa
* Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association – Educational seminar called the Road Show
* Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association – Educational seminar on Best Management Practices
* Iowa Honey Producers – Educational seminar on Marketing and Promotion of Iowa Honey

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