AMS No. 013-12
Gwen Sparks, (202) 260-8210
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan invites state departments of agriculture across the United States and its territories to submit applications for specialty crop block grants.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill grants, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), are designed to help strengthen the market for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Applications will be accepted through July 11, 2012.
“The agricultural industry exemplifies the ‘Made in America’ brand,” said Merrigan. “Specialty crop block grants are an important resource that helps sustain the livelihood of the American farm while strengthening the economy.”
In 2011, USDA invested in 55 specialty crop block grants that funded 740 initiatives across the country including the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
AMS encourages states to develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen local economies by:
* Increasing nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption
* Improving efficiency within the distribution system and reducing costs
* Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors
* Supporting research through standard and green initiatives
* Enhancing food safety
* Developing new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops
* Controlling pests and diseases
* Creating organic and sustainable production practices
* Establishing local and regional fresh food systems
* Expanding food access in underserved/food desert communities
Application instructions can be found in the Feb. 8, 2012 Federal Register or on the USDA website at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp
. Applications must be received between Feb. 8, 2012 and July 11, 2012. For more information, please contact Trista Etzig via phone at (202) 690-4942 or by e-mail: email@example.com
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is authorized under Section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note.) and amended under Section 10109 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 110-246 (the Farm Bill). SCBGP-FB is currently implemented under 7 CFR Part 1291 (published March 27, 2009; 74 FR 13313).
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