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USDA Announces Specialty Crop Block Grant to CT DOA

By Jimmie Turner, USDA Press Release (6/4/10)

  JUNE 13, 2010 --

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has awarded $442,964.50 to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for 10 projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

"Grants can propel worthwhile programs to another level while helping to drive local economies," said Rayne Pegg, AMS administrator. "Specialty crops are a major part of U.S. agriculture and keeping it competitive is critical. It is our objective to ensure that agriculture thrives."

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture will use some of the funds to partner with the state's Maple Syrup Producers Association and test the validity of a three-pronged approach to grow the maple products industry through sustainable forest management to increase the number of maple trees tapped, enhancing current equipment to increase productivity, and developing a marketing model to increase traffic to retail and direct market outlets.

Grants are awarded to state departments of agriculture within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In order to receive the grant funds, a state must submit an application which is reviewed by AMS staff to determine the eligibility of the proposed projects and their costs.

State departments of agriculture have been encouraged to partner with specialty crop stakeholders, including socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers, to fulfill the purpose of the program. In fiscal 2010, about $55 million is available to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, nursery crops, including floriculture. Block grants are authorized under Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note.) and amended under Section 10109 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 110-246 (the Farm Bill). This program is currently implemented under 7 CFR Part 1291.

For more information about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, visit the AMS Web site at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp, for a full list of the funded projects.

Follow the USDA on Twitter to receive the latest press release, stories, and important updates about the Agriculture Marketing Service at: http://twitter.com/USDA_AMS_NEWS.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (Voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).



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