Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crop Growers: Heads Up!

Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crop Growers: Heads Up!

Check this quick run-down on the approved grants in your states. Food safety training is moving up the priority list.

You've been hearing more and more about specialty crops as the trend toward more locally produce food continues to intensify. Here's a capsulized look at the latest round of U.S. Department of Agriculture block grants to state ag departments in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.

Specialty crop producers throughout the Northeast will benefit directly from most of the 139 projects of 739 approved nationwide. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Food safety training is moving up the priority list for Mid-Atlantic

Coupled with another $17.61 million recently funneled to Northeast for specialty crop research (see yesterday's story), serious money is being put up for development of specialty crops and markets.

In this round of block grants, substantial dollars are being committed to training farmers and small processors about the coming wave of food safety regulations, a consequence of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which begins to kick in this year.

Delaware – $242,281

Develop a Farm-to-School plan to increase local fruit and vegetable consumption, increase student and improve food access in underserved communities

University of Delaware research to accurately determine lima bean water requirements

University of Delaware to examine vegetables commonly planted after sweet corn, and assess crop rotation safety of Impact and Laudis herbicides

University of Delaware to evaluate lima bean breeding cultivars, plus yield and quality improvements plus cost reduction

University of Delaware to determine if supersweet sweet corn varieties may better suited to early planting, and acceptable plant populations for commercial processing

University of Delaware to test molecular markers in lima beans for resistance to downy mildew race F, develop markers for resistance to race E resistance

University of Delaware study of watermelon rootstocks with resistance to Fusarium diseases and root knot nematode

Maryland – $420,124

Continue technical training and economic assistance to producers developing GAP food safety programs

Crossroads Farmers Market to expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families and neighborhoods with limited availability

Christmas Tree Association, for a comprehensive advertising campaign promoting the benefits of locally-grown Christmas trees

Continue to reinforce preference for local specialty crops advertising, promotional events and marketing

Partner with the Delaware Ag Department to develop New England market for Mar-Del watermelons

Foster educational and promotional programs to increase student awareness and consumption of Maryland-grown fruits and

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug monitoring program plus develop cost-effective, environmentally-acceptable management strategies

New Jersey – $792,245

Cumberland County Board of Agriculture to implement a Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) training program for fruit and vegetable growers

Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association to implement produce traceability initiative for Jersey Fruit blueberry grower/packers and a PTI compliant traceability solution for all Jersey Fruit blueberry  and peach packers

Farm Bureau to increase the accessibility of food safety training for specialty crop producers plus establish a web-based food safety information outlet

Improve promotion and market value through expanded Jersey Fresh promotion

Blueberry Growers Association to enhance a consumer-oriented advertising campaign

promoting nutritional attributes of New Jersey grown blueberries

Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association to educate grape-growing community on how to meet rising demand for unique, locally grown wine grapes

Rutgers Cooperative Extension to encourage specialty crop production and through public service announcements

Garden State Wine Growers Association to assist with developing a multi-faceted branding and marketing campaign and point-of-sale materials

Landisville Cooperative Association to increase the sales of fresh vegetables through a web-based promotional site

Peach Promotion Council to expand promotional campaign with updated marketing theme and website

Council of Farmers and Communities to strengthen the competitiveness of specialty crops via small niche farmer assistance

Trenton Farmers' Market to promote Jersey Fresh and cooking demonstrations

Garden Club of New Jersey to develop an outreach program enhancing awareness

at garden centers and nurseries about local produce, floriculture and horticultural products

Christmas Tree Growers Association to create a publicity campaign encouraging purchase of locally grown trees

Atlantic County Board of Agriculture to increase public's awareness of the benefits of a strong specialty crop industry

Middlesex County Board of Agriculture to update brochures featuring local ag producers and products and services offered

Agricultural Society to develop a production and marketing training program for specialty crop producers

Develop a "how to" course for specialty crop producers interested in learning about organic certification

Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market Association to upgrade computer system to facilitate quick sale of specialty crops through the co-op
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