USDA gives Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture US$341,000 grant to improve competitiveness of specialty crops

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana , October 12, 2011 () – A $341,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to improve competitiveness of specialty crops will be divided among four projects — two at the LSU AgCenter, one by a video production company and one bu the nonprofit that runs the Crescent City Farmers Market, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says.

He said will bring children from under-served urban areas on field trips to the farmer's market and teach them about strawberries, citrus and other specialty crops. The market runs Tuesday mornings Uptown, Thursday afternoons in Mid-City and Saturday mornings Downtown.

1stCo Inc. Video Productions will develop and produce a TV series to educate consumers about Louisiana's specialty crops — which include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops — and how to prepare them.

The AgCenter will develop a media campaign to increase recognition of the "Louisiana Super Plants" logo and expand its use statewide. It also will evaluate vegetable and fruit varieties for disease and insect resistance, yield, and time to market, and educate local growers about them.

"Agriculture is the backbone of Louisiana's economy, that is why it is so important to invest in the specialty crop industry," Strain said Tuesday. "All of the proposals were beneficial, but the panel and I agreed these projects will serve the state's specialty crops needs best at this time."

Strain said USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program awarded 55 grants for 740 initiatives across the United States and its territories.

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