October 23, 2019

Specialty Crop Block Grants Awarded to Grow Production within Missouri agriculture


he Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that eleven projects across Missouri will receive grant funding from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to strengthen the market for Missouri grown specialty crops.

“Missouri is known for its agricultural diversity, including our specialty crops,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “Our Missouri farmers can raise watermelons, potatoes and peanuts in the Bootheel, while apples and berries thrive in the northern half of the Show-Me State. The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant is a perfect example of how state and federal governments can work together to make a local impact.”

More than $459,000 in federal funding will be used to offer GAP certification cost-share, assess demand for Missouri specialty crops, educate specialty crop producers on climate resilience strategies and provide specialty crop cooking demonstrations. Grant funds will also be utilized to support important specialty crop research into the impact of nearby crop protection tools; insect control in high tunnels; cultivars for hard cider and apple wines; virus, fungal prevention and plant breeding for Missouri’s grape industry; and economic opportunities of the Pawpaw.

The following projects were awarded grant funding for 2019: 

  • Assessing Demand for Missouri Specialty Crops
    University of Missouri - $25,031
    Measure how specialty crop food/product demand varies throughout Missouri and share that information with Missouri producers to make well-informed marketing decisions. The project will collect 1,100 survey responses from Missouri consumers in 11 regions and offer several outreach meetings to disseminate results to producers.
  • Optimization of Vignoles Grape Breeding Using Molecular Genetic Approaches
    Missouri State University – $49,900
    Research genetic resistance into grape cultivars by developing genetic mapping to prevent fungal diseases in the production of Vignoles.
  • Explore the Economic Opportunities and Health Benefits of the Pawpaw in Missouri
    University of Missouri - $46,689
    Identify health benefits and explore the novel uses of the pawpaw in cosmetic, personal care products, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Educating KC Metro Farmers on Climate Resilience Strategies
    Cultivate KC - $38,200
    Develop a pilot training program assisting specialty crop farmers to adapt to current and projected changes in weather and pest pressures to their farming operations. Assist farmers with risk assessment and management plans. Explore transformative approaches and develop farm resilience options to ensure productive and viable farming systems.
  • Determining the Impact of the Endophytic Microbiome on Grape Physiology
    University of Missouri - $38,010
    Investigate the role of grape endophytic microbes in grape berry growth, including berry size and cluster compactness to understand the dynamics in berry physiology and production.
  • Buffer Distance Impact on Dicamba Damage to Potato, Watermelon and Tomato
    University of Missouri - $49,853
    Research the impact of Dicamba on three specialty crops grown adjacent to Dicamba-tolerant crops to determine the optimal buffer distance for sensitive crops.
  • GAPs Certification Funding and Produce Safety Outreach for Missouri Producers 
    University of Missouri - $49,482
    Assist producers with produce safety workshops, on-farm technical assistance, microbial water testing and certification cost-share for GAPs certification. This will enable more Missouri grown produce to be sold through markets that require GAP certification.
  • Optimizing Cultivars and Processing for Hard Cider and Apple Wines
    University of Missouri - $33,410
    Optimize processing options for common apple cultivars currently planted and evaluate new cultivars classically used for cider production. Results will be disseminated through cider school, grower meetings, demonstrations, and on-line publications.
  • Columbia Farmers Market Specialty Crop Cooking Demonstration Educational Program
    Columbia Farmers Market - $28,775
    Establish a specialty crop cooking demonstration program and develop relationships with mid-Missouri chefs to increase purchasing and consumption of specialty crops.
  • Impact of Viruses on Soluble Sugar Content in Grapevine Leaves
    University of Missouri – $32,683
    Research plant viruses with major threats to grape and wine production such as Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3) and Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV).
  • Evaluating Essential Oils for Insect Control in High Tunnels
    Webb City Farmers Market - $30,569
    Test the efficacy of essential oils in repelling and killing of aphids, spider mites and thrips in high tunnels on three farms.

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