For specialty crops $1.1 million in federal fundingStaff writer ▼ | March 24, 2014
The Specialty Crop Block Grant program, administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, includes fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, hops, and nursery crops, and works to enhance the competitiveness of New York farms by forming new partnerships to create innovations in agriculture that benefit the state's economy.
"New York's agricultural sector offers a diverse array of specialty crops as part of an already robust and thriving industry that has grown continually over the past three years. This $1.1 million will help local farmers across the state expand and provide valuable information to benefit our ever evolving agro-food industry, and spread the word on New York products nationwide," Governor Cuomo said.
Funding is being provided through the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (amended under the federal 2014 Farm Bill), which authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide state assistance for specialty crop competitiveness programs.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is soliciting proposals that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and benefit the greatest number of beneficiaries in one of three priority areas. These include research and grower education, food safety, marketing and promotion.
Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Farmers are some of the greatest innovators in the entire world, but many of these innovations cannot be brought to light without strong research behind them. As a farmer of specialty crops, I know firsthand how invaluable the Specialty Crop Block Grant program is in helping farmers enhance their operations."
United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "New York is home to many fruits and vegetable farms that have historically been overlooked in federal farm funding. Specialty crops face different opportunities, but also challenges. In the 2014 Farm Bill, I secured additional funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which will help farmers innovate new markets, seed varieties, pest control techniques, and farming methods. Our New York farmers will now be able to enhance the competitiveness of their crops and strengthen our agricultural economy."
To apply for this funding, applicants should visit www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, not-for-profit educational institutions, and state, local and Indian tribal governments. Projects must be completed within two years and six months from the award date, and are expected to be announced in September 2014. ■