Iowa Dept. of Agriculture awards US$260,549 of USDA grant to 12 organizations to help enhance competitiveness of state-grown specialty crops through food safety, research and marketing efforts

DES MOINES, Iowa , October 5, 2011 (press release) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will be awarding $260,549 in grants to Iowa organizations to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. The Department received $276,526.15 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to support the program.

“Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products,” Northey said. “These federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers that are produced right here in our state.”

Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups were eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

The Department also invited public comment from specialty crop stakeholders to help identify priorities for the program and established a Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on which grant proposals submitted to the Department should receive funding.

The maximum grant award from the Department to sub-grantees is $24,000 and administrative and indirect costs are not allowed.

Grant funds shall be used for projects that benefit and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops industry as a whole, and cannot be for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

“Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The funds not passed through to Iowa organizations will be used by the Department to administer the grant.

The full list of 12 grant recipients follows here:

Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association - $12,350 to expanding educational programming for Iowa's green industry professionals through a webinar series and accompanying on-line modules

Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development - $18,343 for building capacity for southwest Iowa local food producers to increase specialty crop competitiveness in the region

Iowa State University (Dr. Gleason) - $23,784 for virtual field days to develop web-based resources to enhance competitiveness of Iowa fruit and vegetable growers

Iowa State University (Erin Hodgson) - $22,170 to support improving detection and management strategies for insects in Iowa grapes

Iowa State University (Dr. Randall) - $23,805 for research on bio fumigation potential to promote woods grown American ginseng

Iowa State University (Dr. Randall) - $20,077 to establishing standards for the fertilization of fir trees to assist Iowa Christmas tree growers

Iowa Food Systems Council - $23,475 to study the feasibility of fruit and vegetable value-added processing in Iowa's congregate meal site kitchens

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association - $4,000 for expanding Iowa's fruit and vegetable industry through grower education

Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development - $24,000 for Farm to where you are: Creating and Enhancing Markets for Southern Iowa Specialty Crop Producers

Iowa Nut Growers Association - $20,791 for Connecting Iowa Nut Growers: Past-Present-Future

Iowa State University (Mark Honeyman) - $12,700 for efforts to increase production of pear and peach with improved cultivars to increase profitability and consumption of Iowa specialty crops

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship - $55,054 to support connecting growers and schools through the Farm to School Program

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