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USDA invests $7 million in 6 states to support specialty crops

Specialty Crop program increases marketing opportunities for specialty crops.

USDA is spending $7 million to support 11 projects in six states to develop solutions to challenges affecting the specialty crop industries that cross state boundaries. The awards are managed through the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service. 

“The best way to tackle many of the biggest challenges in food safety and to promote markets is to make it easier for a lot of stakeholders to work together,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach. “USDA’s Specialty Crop Multi-State Program provides the grease to help them leverage state and private sector resources across state lines—especially the knowledge and experience of farmers and the agricultural industry.” 

SCMP strengthens food safety; seeks new ways to address plant pests, disease, and other crop-specific issues; and increases marketing opportunities for specialty crops—fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and dried fruits to horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Funding is awarded competitively to state departments of agriculture that partner with stakeholder organizations in two or more states. 

The 2018 SCMP projects include: 

California Department of Food and Agriculture will partner with:

  • The University of California's Western Institute for Food Safety & Security and Oregon State University for a food safety project to support food safety and honey bee health through veterinary education. Awarded $483,278.
  • The University of California and Oregon State University for a pest and plant health project to optimize phasmarhabditis nematodes for mitigating invasive gastropods in the western United States. Awarded $770,356.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Washington State University and the University of California-Davis for a pest and plant health project to better understand esca trunk disease in multiple grape-production systems. Awarded $348,991.
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Purdue University will partner on a project to diversify sod production with sustainable turfgrasses. Awarded $495,635. 

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will partner with:

  • The Pennsylvania State University; collaborating with universities in Georgia, Maryland, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Florida; on a pest and plant health project to develop a regional approach to cucurbit downy mildew prevention monitoring and management. Awarded $806,739.
  • The Pennsylvania State University, University of Maryland and the University of Florida on a pest and plant health project to develop a reliable, customized bio-control for fusarium wilt of the tomato. Awarded $770,360.
  • The U.S. Sweet Potato Council, Inc., collaborating with sweet potato commissions and councils in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina on a project to increase the market for sweet potatoes. Awarded $250,000.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will partner with:

  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota on a project to expand North American hazelnut production through the hedgerow hazelnut system. Awarded: $777,203.
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University on a pest and plant health project to optimize disease management and yield in potato via microbiome-based prediction. Awarded $999,599. 

Texas Department of Agriculture will partner with Texas A&M University and the University of California on a project to improve nitrogen use efficiency and food safety in spinach production. Awarded $743,878.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture will partner with the University of Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska on a pest and plant health project to improve aronia berry sustainability and fruit quality. Awarded $479,751.

Source: USDA

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