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Calif. leads nation in specialty crop fundsCalif. leads nation in specialty crop funds

State received nearly $24 million out of $73 million given.

Farm Press Staff

September 8, 2023

2 Min Read
Processing tomatoes
Processing tomatoes are loaded and shipped.Todd Fitchette

California won the greatest amount of Specialty Crop Block Grant funds from USDA in the most recent round, receiving nearly $24 million of the nearly $73 million awarded.

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

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will fund 46 projects, including the following:

Processing tomatoes

The University of California, Davis, was awarded $396,176 to identify drivers of drought resilience and quantify their relevance to water-shortage scenarios in field experiments on California processing tomatoes. The Golden State grows more than 95% of all processing tomatoes in the U.S.   

Nutrition and education

18 Reasons, a nonprofit organization, was awarded $450,000 to focus on providing hands-on, cooking-based education utilizing specialty crops to low-income families who are disproportionately affected by food insecurity and diet-related nutrition disparities in the San Francisco Bay area.

In addition, the nonprofit Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles was given $499,982 to provide sixth through 12th grade students, adults, and caregivers with culturally relevant specialty crop education which showcases California’s seasonal variety and specialty crop growers, especially targeting underserved communities and Title I schools.

Underserved farmers

The California Bountiful Foundation won $435,867 to support a farmer-to-farmer specialty crop mentoring and education program for beginning specialty crop farmers throughout the state, with an emphasis on reaching underserved farmers to enhance their competitiveness and opportunities for success.


The Buy California Marketing Agreement was awarded $2.5 million to implement a multi-platform digital campaign, which will include retail and foodservice promotions, to enhance support from the retail and food service trade and increase consumer demand for California’s specialty crop products throughout California.

Other 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; providing nutritional education for consumers; training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; investing in training for growers, producers, and operators to address current and future challenges; and conducting research on organic and sustainable production practices, conservation and environmental outcomes, and pest control and disease.

In addition, 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 2023 SCBGP project abstracts are available online: 2023 SCBGP Project Abstracts.

Source: California Department of Food and Agriculture

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