October 02, 2014

Grants Awarded to Grow Demand for Missouri Specialty Crops

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) – The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that 14 organizations across Missouri will receive grants given by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to strengthen the market for Missouri grown crops and produce.  More than $450,000 in federal funding will be used to educate consumers and producers about Missouri specialty crops as well as to research methods to improve nut, berry, grape, native fruit, vegetable, beekeeping and honey production, food safety, youth education and plant protection throughout the state.

The following organizations were awarded grant funding for 2014:

• Columbia Farmers Market – to implement a youth education program promoting and teaching the benefits of specialty crops improving the healthy habits of children, raise consumer awareness and improve knowledge of specialty crops through offering a series of education programs and promote the market as a routine and reliable source of specialty crops effectively increasing  sales - $12,993

• EarthDance Organic Farm School – to increase consumer interest  and organic fruit production in Missouri by demonstrating the market potential of pawpaw (native) fruit and providing growers with education about commercial scale organic fruit production - $7,452

• Kansas City Community Gardens - to assist low-income families and community groups in the Kansas City area with growing fresh fruits, vegetables and culinary herbs and improve community access to healthy food - $27,200

• Lincoln University – two grants
(1) To increase awareness about wild leeks and other native edible plants with potential as specialty crops, develop protocols to grow wild leeks and wild greens as crops in Missouri based on existing research and develop value-added products using wild leeks, examine nutrient content and outreach and education for promoting production and consumption - $28,065

(2) To enhance the small and large scale production of many specialty crops by improving current monitoring systems for the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) recently introduced as a new species of fruit fly in the US.  The SWD has a wide host-range but is primarily a pest of berry crops, (brambles, blueberries, elderberries and grapes) and some stone fruits (cherry, nectarine and peach).  Results from this project will aid in the development of behaviorally-based Integrated Pest Management approaches such as mass trapping that may lead to effective SWD control with reduced insecticide sprays - $33,102

• Missouri Department of Agriculture – two grants
(1) To start a certification cost-share program in Missouri and increase the number of operations with GHP and GAP Certification, improve overall food safety and increase overall Missouri produce grown, handled and processed by owned and located operations and increase the total amount of produce specialty crops - $44,135

(2) To establish a 2-year insecticide cost-share program for Missouri small fruit growers, support their efforts to protect susceptible fruits from Spotted Wing Drosophila while they gain confidence in adding new practices and adjust to new insecticide input costs.  The program will reimburse the purchase price of insecticides to participants at 50% up to $750 per grower, depending on the acres treated (non-bearing crop acreage would not be included) - $62,034

• Missouri River Communities Network (MRCN) – to increase the number of specialty crop producers in the 19 counties in the Missouri River Valley, gather information from MRCN producers about their growing practices, future plans and willingness to collaborate with other producers on marketing activities, raise awareness of MRCN consumers where to purchase locally grown specialty crops and increase the number of local specialty crop producers and consumers - $28,638

• Missouri State University – two grants
(1) To record the grade of resistance against powdery mildew and downy mildew and conduct an assessment of the seven new grape varieties with the parents “Norton” and “Cabernet Sauvignon” for their viticultural characteristics in 2015 and 2016 - $14,000

(2) To develop a Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon linkage map using genetic markers, conduct segregation analysis of the population for rooting ability and identify genetic markers associated with the rooting for future marker-assisted selection - $29,988

• Missouri Vegetable Growers Association - to focus on educating people new to beekeeping by increasing knowledge of integrated pest management practices in beekeeping of at least 100 individuals through six advanced beekeeping workshops, increase the number of managed beehives in Missouri through beginning and advanced beekeeping workshops and the Great Plains Growers Conference - $32,276

• University of Missouri – two grants
(1) To provide new information to elderberry producers, Extension personnel and researchers on quantifiable juice characteristics and identify and compare the flavor descriptors of the juice of six different elderberry cultivars using descriptive sensory analysis  - $18,192

(2) To examine innovative strategies used in other developing wine regions including wine trail and appellation development in 3 areas with developing wine industries to advance the collective marketing options used by Missouri wineries.  Describe processes used by growers to develop collective entrepreneurial strategies, participation by state government, consultants and other parties.  Define the successful strategies for regional/local industry development, identity based reputations of successful wine trails and specifications used to define the wine styles and production practices adopted in new appellations - $53,128

• Webb City Farmers Market - to address the need for increased production of fruits and vegetables in both fresh and value-added form for winter markets in southwest Missouri - $30,069

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