USDA announces ODA grant funding for specialty crop producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded over $604,000 in Fiscal Year 2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funding to Ohio. With this grant, the Ohio Department of Agriculture will fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop products and create new market opportunities for the state’s specialty crop producers.

“With this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, Ohio is investing in innovative projects that will help address the needs of specialty crop producers within the region,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “The funded projects will also further USDA’s efforts to ensure U.S. specialty crop products remain competitive in markets across the nation and abroad.”

Through the SCBGP, the Ohio Department of Agriculture will fund seven projects. Among the department’s projects, is funding to the FairShare Community Supported Agriculture Coalition to develop peer-to-peer training on vegetable crop production, wholesale packaging standards, and food safety. Additional funded projects focus in areas such as advances in seed health, pest monitoring and mitigation, and the use of battery powered technology in specialty fruit crop settings.

The grant is part of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announcement of $72.9 million awarded to 55 states and territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The grant program provides funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research.

“USDA is excited to announce that this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant awards marks over $1 billion invested in nearly 12,000 projects that support the U.S. specialty crop industry,” said Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is a critical piece of USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to support small and mid-sized producers and ensure Americans have sustained access to fresh, locally grown specialty crop products.”

Fiscal year 2023 SCBGP funding is awarded to the departments of agriculture in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Funding for SCBGP is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

States are encouraged to sub-award funding to projects that address the needs of U.S. producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. Funded projects include investing in food safety, specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes, developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops, and pest and disease control. Additional projects focus on increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; and improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.

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