October 18, 2016

Grants Awarded to Grow Demand for Missouri Specialty Crops

The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that nine projects across Missouri will receive grants given by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to strengthen the market for Missouri grown specialty crops. More than $327,000 in federal funding will be used 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.

The following projects were awarded grant funding for 2016: 

• Using Biocontrol Agents to Combat Soil-borne Vegetable Diseases in Missouri (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

• Appraising the Potential of a Hops Industry in Missouri (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

• Investigating the Optimum Planting Date for Garlic in Southwest Missouri (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

• Enhancing Youth Education, Purchasing, and Consumption of Specialty Crops (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

• Strengthening Food Safety Education for Missouri Fruit and Vegetable Producers (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

• Developing Specialty Cut Flower Production Methods During Peak Winter Months (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

• Identify Novel Uses of Black Walnut and its Byproducts (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

• Optimizing Monitoring and Mass Trapping Systems for Spotted Wing Drosophila (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 

• Specialty Crop Education for Missouri Producers (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

For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture and financial assistance available to Missouri producers, visit the Department online at agriculture.mo.gov.