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Specialty Crop Grants For 12 Iowa Groups

Specialty Crop Grants For 12 Iowa Groups

USDA awards 12 Iowa organizations grant funding to help them promote specialty crops--such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will be awarding $260,549 in grants to Iowa organizations to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. The state ag department received $276,526 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service to support the program.

"Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products," Northey says. "These federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers that are produced right here in our state."

Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups are eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Maximum amount from Iowa Department of Ag to each group is $24,000

The state ag department also invited public comment from specialty crop stakeholders to help identify priorities for the program and established a Review Committee to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on which grant proposals submitted to the department should receive funding.

The maximum grant award from the Iowa Department of Agriculture to an individual organization or group is $24,000. This grant money is not allowed to be used to pay for administrative and indirect costs.

Grant funds shall be used for projects that benefit and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops industry as a whole, and cannot be for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

"Specialty Crops" that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.  The funds not passed through to Iowa organizations will be used by the Iowa Department of Agriculture to administer the grant.

The full list of 12 grant recipients follows here:

* Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association: $12,350 to expand educational programming for Iowa's green industry professionals through a webinar series and accompanying on-line modules.

* Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development: $18,343 for building capacity for southwest Iowa local food producers to increase specialty crop competitiveness in the region.

* Iowa State University (Dr. Mark Gleason): $23,784 for virtual field days to develop web-based resources to enhance competitiveness of Iowa fruit and vegetable growers.

* Iowa State University (Dr. Erin Hodgson): $22,170 to support improving detection and management strategies for insects in Iowa grapes.

* Iowa State University (Dr. Randall): $23,805 for research on bio fumigation potential to promote woods-grown American ginseng.

* Iowa State University (Dr. Randall): $20,077 to establishing standards for the fertilization of fir trees to assist Iowa Christmas tree growers.

* Iowa Food Systems Council: $23,475 to study the feasibility of fruit and vegetable value-added processing in Iowa's congregate meal site kitchens.

* Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association: $4,000 for expanding Iowa's fruit and vegetable industry through grower education.

* Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development: $24,000 for a project titled "Farm to where you are: Creating and Enhancing Markets for Southern Iowa Specialty Crop Producers."

* Iowa Nut Growers Association: $20,791 for Connecting Iowa Nut Growers, Past-Present-Future

* Iowa State University (Dr. Mark Honeyman): $12,700 for efforts to increase production of pear and peach with improved cultivars to increase profitability and consumption of Iowa specialty crops.

* Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship: $55,054 to support connecting growers and schools through the Farm to School Program.

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