The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) applies for annual grant funding from the USDA, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Missouri.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Overview

MDA issues grant awards for projects that include research, agricultural extension activities, and programs that increase demand and address the needs of Missouri’s specialty crop industry. Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Recipients

MDA awarded nine projects with more than $327,000 in federal funding to educate consumers and producers about Missouri specialty crops throughout the state, enhance research to improve soil-borne vegetable diseases, evaluate potential new industries, create new strategies to boost fruit quality in berry production, provide food safety training, and improve youth knowledge for purchase and consumption of specialty crops.

  1. Lincoln University Cooperative Extension – to study and seek effective management strategies to mitigate the threat of economic losses due to foliar and soil-borne diseases faced by Missouri high-tunnel producers – $48,736
  2. University of Missouri Extension – will assess and aide the potential of a hops industry for Missouri by addressing production issues, market demand, grower collaboration, infrastructure needs and information sharing – $29,966
  3. Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University – to determine the optimum planting date of garlic varieties and production methods in Missouri’s Southwest region – $20,816
  4. Columbia Farmers Market – to continue the implementation of a youth education program promoting and teaching the benefits of specialty crops through offering a series of educational programs and promote the market as a routine and reliable source of specialty crops – $26,441
  5. University of Missouri Extension – to provide certified FSMA training for MU Extension personnel and Missouri fruit and vegetable growers allowing Missouri producers to comply with FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – $36,726
  6. Happy Hollow Farm – to coordinate research efforts to develop specialty cut flower production methods using covered structures and minimal heat sources for small-scale farmers in three separate Missouri locations – $49,934
  7. University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry – to conduct research in characterizing health-promoting compounds and market research of black walnuts and byproducts including shells, kernels, barks, green walnut husks and leaves collected from orchard waste – $29,500
  8. University of Missouri – to develop a new strategy mass trapping system and create an improved monitoring system to suppress spotted wing drosophila (SWD) populations– $34,512
  9. University of Missouri – to provide educational marketing and production information to encourage both established and beginning producers to adopt specialty crop production and enhance farm diversification by creating an online evaluation tool of nine specialty crops offering a viable Missouri crop opportunity – $24,669

Previously Funded Projects

For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program application process, contact Susan Bennett at (573) 526-9548 or Susan.Bennett@mda.mo.gov.