November 10, 2010

Specialty Crop Funds Awarded to Missouri to Further Enhance Industry

Department of Agriculture Awards over $302,000 to Agriculture Projects

The Missouri Department of Agriculture today announced that 13 agricultural projects across Missouri have been selected to receive funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to assist in the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state. The federal assistance totaling over $302,000 for Missouri projects is targeted to specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture (including floriculture and turf grass sod).

"Missouri has many innovative specialty crop growers dedicated to education, good management practices and seeking new ways to increase market opportunities for Missouri farm families," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "Specialty crops continue to grow in popularity among consumers and we are committed to connecting Missouri farmers with value-added opportunities."

The following projects were awarded funding:

  • University of Missouri - Advancement of American Elderberry as a Missouri Specialty Crop by Elucidating its Pest and Disease Complex: Study pests and disease that affect American Elderberry production in Missouri. The University of Missouri will receive $29,611.00.
  • Catholic Charities of St. Louis City - City Greens Bonus Incentive Project: Provide vouchers to low income populations in St. Louis to spend at specified farmers markets and facilitate weekly nutrition-education opportunities. The Catholic Charities of St. Louis City will receive $10,096.00.
  • Gateway Greening - City Seeds: Increase the number of people able to produce and market high quality specialty crops in Missouri through education and jobs training program utilizing City Seeds Urban Farm. Gateway Greening will receive $25,000.00.
  • University of Missouri - Deinfestation of Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp Larvae from Chestnut Scion Wood to Product a Clean Source of Nursery Stock: Evaluate methods to disinfest gall wasp larvae at the time of grafting by hot water treatment, forced air heating or exposure to an electromagnetic field without adversely affecting the plant material or human health. University of Missouri will receive $24,130.00.
  • Truman State University - Farm-to-College as a Catalyst for Specialty Crop Production: Create a physical and organizational infrastructure to facilitate institutional food purchasing as a catalyst to building demand for and production of specialty crops in northeastern Missouri. Truman State University will receive $28,970.00.
  • Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute - Enhancing Missouri Specialty Crop Opportunities Through Training and Outreach: Provide field training sessions to producers on several types of specialty crops, increase public awareness of specialty crops that can be purchased locally and provide outreach and media coverage on specialty crops to stimulate interest from consumers and producers. The Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institution will receive $11,200.00.
  • University of Missouri - High Tunnel Production of High Lycopene Tomatoes Using a New Disease Resistant Rootstock: Study how new tomato rootstock and varieties can increase tomato production in a high tunnel environment. The University of Missouri will receive $10,500.00.
  • Webb City Farmers Market - Increasing Child and Adult Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption of Specialty Crops in Southwest Missouri through Social Media and Video Marketing: Use social media and video marketing to increase awareness and consumption of specialty crops in children and adults in southwest Missouri. Webb City Farmers Market will receive $30,000.00.
  • Missouri Department of Agriculture - Introducing Flash Freezing Technology to Missouri Specialty Crop Growers: Build a mobile flash freezing unit to demonstrate and educate fruit and vegetable growers on the potential market opportunities of flash freezing. Unit will be available to producers in second year of project. Missouri Department of Agriculture will receive $30,000.00.
  • Missouri River Hills Elderberry Producers - River Hills Elderberry Producers Grower Support and Education Project: Support and educate farmers and landowners who have committed acreage to growing elderberries and attract more growers. Missouri River Hills Elderberry Producers will receive $29,982.00.
  • Columbia Farmers' Market - Scaling up Production of Specialty Crops for Winter Sales at the Columbia Farmers ' Market: Provide an indoor winter market for vendors which will enable them to expand their income while offering a selection of local, fresh, healthy specialty crops to the consumer. Columbia Farmers' Market will receive $26,591.00.
  • University of Missouri - Studies on Shoot Density, Row Orientation and Canopy Management Practices on Growth, Yield and Fruit Composition of Norton Grapes: Project will determine the optimal shoot density for production of Norton grapes and determine the impact of row orientation on Norton grapes and identify canopy management practices that promote development of sound canopy architecture and high fruit quality. University of Missouri will receive $24,000.00.
  • Mineral Area College - Vegetable Training and Education Garden - Develop a vegetable growing, training and educational garden at Mineral Area Community College. Mineral Area College will receive $22,250.00.

Specialty Crop Block grants are funded through USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block grant program. The one-year grants are administered through USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block grant program and begin with applications in March.

For more information about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program please contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture or visit