February 20, 2013

Specialty Crop Funds Awarded to Missouri to Further Enhance Industry

Department of Agriculture awards over $300,000 to ag projects for 2013

The Missouri Department of Agriculture today announced that 13 agricultural projects across Missouri have been selected to receive funding provided by USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to assist in the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state. The federal assistance totaling over $300,000 for Missouri projects is targeted to specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture, including floriculture and turf grass sod.

"The innovative specialty crop growers throughout Missouri are 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. "As specialty crops continue to grow in popularity among both producers and consumers, we are committed to connecting Missouri farmers with value-added opportunities and the resources necessary for them to succeed in meeting their customers' needs."

The following organizations were awarded grants for 2013:

  • Cultivate Kansas City - to support an outreach team for the Get Growing Kansas City project that is comprised of eight people with a comprehensive skill set relative to growing, marketing, and distributing locally produced specialty crops - $15,000
  • Missouri River Bluffs Association - to encourage more producers to grow food in the five county Missouri River Bluffs Association region and encourage more customers to buy locally grown food through the implementation of a marketing campaign for locally grown food, development of a regional local food database, and facilitation of educational events at a farmers' market. SCBGP-FB funds will not be used to invite, register, or promote products that are not defined as specialty crops - $30,000
  • Missouri Wine and Grape Board - to continue to increase winery tourism and wine sales by extending the Missouri Passport Program - $25,000
  • The Menorah Legacy Foundation - to expand a mobile market campaign which makes fresh, locally grown food available and affordable for low-income persons living in urban "food deserts" without access to grocery stores or farmers' markets - $15,000
  • Western Nursery and Landscape Association - to facilitate an educational program for Missouri nursery crop growers to help them meet the requirements set forth by the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) for sustainable plant production - $15,636
  • Gateway Greening and the St. Patrick Center - to conduct an urban agriculture educational program, which will increase the horticulture skills of the Center's clients - $24,000
  • Saint Louis University - to establish a teaching orchard with emphasis on organic growing techniques, which will be utilized to host workshops and discussions with community members, students, teachers and industry professionals - $50,000
  • In2Action- to increase local production, accessibility and awareness of honey through the development of a sustainable test-model and educational program for low-income families about the nutritional, health, and medicinal benefits associated with honey consumption - $29,636
  • Webb City Farmers' Market - to provide a conference that includes in-depth presentations and tours that cover issues of interest to current and prospective specialty crop growers, marketers and consumers - $16,194
  • EarthDance FARMS - to increase low-income and minority individuals' knowledge of specialty crop sustainable agriculture opportunities and benefits through the continued implementation and expansion of an organic farming apprenticeship program and facilitation of food safety workshops for area specialty crop farmers - $24,817
  • University of Missouri - to determine the nitrogen needed to maximize yields and enhance profitability of chestnut production while avoiding the potential for contaminating of groundwater aquifers - $20,884
  • Missouri State University - to provide molecular genetic support to expedite a Norton grape breeding effort with the ultimate goal of improving viticultural performance and enological quality of new grape varieties well adapted to Missouri conditions - $25,000
  • Lincoln University - to develop organic management options for Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, and to deploy monitoring systems for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, and Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii - $23,197

For more information about financial assistance available to Missouri producers and other opportunities available through the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit the Department online at mda.mo.gov.