Specialty Crop Growers Urged to Apply for Funds

Deadline to apply for USDA grants to help market and promote specialty crops is Jan. 4.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging eligible groups to apply for grants to market and promote specialty crops from the Iowa Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, from the USDA's division of Agricultural Marketing Services, assists state departments of agriculture in enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops.

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

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

Proposals are now being accepted through Jan. 4

Funds have supported increasing sales at local markets, seminars, promotion of products and education. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is re-granting $60,000 to focus on the marketing and promotion of specialty crops.

Organizations may submit only one proposal and each proposal that is chosen will be eligible to receive up to $4,000. Government organizations, individuals and academic institutions are not eligible to receive the grant. Proposals are now being accepted through January 4, 2008.

To find out more about submitting a proposal, visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Web site at www.agriculture.state.ia.us or contact Barbara Lovitt by e-mail [email protected] or phone 515-281-8232.

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