The Washington State Department of Agriculture says that it will award approximately $4.1 million in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
The 2015 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant will fund 24 projects managed by WSDA in partnership with other organizations. Washington ranks second in the nation behind California in production of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.
Awards for individual projects range from $43,000 to $250,000 and will go to agricultural commodity commissions, agricultural associations, non-profit organizations and Washington State University. WSU is the grant recipient for 10 of the projects.
WSDA will be the lead on two projects, including one that expands farmworker pesticide education and another that will provide outreach and education to fruit and vegetable growers. The goal in this contract is to assist growers in meeting new produce safety regulations set by the Food & Drug Administration. Other research efforts involve hops and potatoes, onions and carrots, tree fruit and berries and Christmas trees.
And, at least two contracts aim to boost trade of specialty crops, including a Pear Bureau Northwest project promoting pears in southern China and a Washington Potato Commission promotional effort involving Vietnam and Myanmar.
The Yakima-Herald listed some of the projects:
• $248,000 for Washington State University to encourage grape growers to use self-propagated cuttings to alleviate the shortage of certified rootstock in the future.
• $249,000 for WSU researchers studying orchard management techniques for the new Cosmic Crisp apples, bred and trademarked by WSU breeders.
• $100,000 to the Pear Bureau Northwest to market Washington and Oregon pears in China, open to all varieties of U.S. pears for only three years.
Here is the complete list of programs funded in Washington State.