RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced an award of $556,321 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for ten Virginia agriculture-related projects. The project awards resulted from a competitive grant process established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) for the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant funds.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, and in order to stay competitive in a global economy and sustain positive long-term growth in this sector, we must invest in quality, innovative research and technological advancements,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will support projects that improve the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops and generate more economic development opportunities for growers in all parts of the Commonwealth.”
“This announcement exemplifies the Governor’s commitment of keeping Virginia farmers and agricultural producers at the forefront of rural economic development,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “These projects illustrate Virginia’s extremely diversified agricultural interests and further our goal of feeding a growing global population.”
Projects range from helping produce farmers comply with new federal and state laws ensuring produce safety, to expanding the use of mason bees as pollinators or researching ways to develop new maple syrup production capacity. Specialty crops including broccoli and other brassicas, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, honey, tree fruits, melons, strawberries and more will benefit from the grants.
VDACS awarded grants totaling $556,321 to the following recipients and projects:
The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorizes the USDA to provide funds to the states to promote crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery products. When considering grants for the USDA Specialty Crop Program, VDACS gave priority to projects that included the following activities: Assisting farmers transitioning into specialty, high-value agricultural initiatives that address the eligible specialty crops; increasing net farm income through high-value or value-added enterprises; finding new ways to market or add value to specialty agricultural products and/or developing pilot and demonstration programs in specialty agriculture that have the potential for transferability within rural Virginia.
For more information on specialty crops in Virginia, contact VDACS’ Division of Marketing and Development at (804) 786-5448.
# # #