A $3.2 million grant for Washington farm assistance, and a $675,000 outlay for similar studies in Colorado are the latest allocations under USDA's annual Specialty Crops funding program
Nearly two dozen different Washington projects will be launched under the 2013 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program, a fund now in danger of not continuing next year if a Farm Bill is not passed.
In Colorado, 10 projects are made possible with the federal dollars. Both states administer the funding through their state farm agencies in partnership with other organizations.
Washington's 2013 specialty crop projects are focused on the Christmas tree industry, and pear and blueberry fruit sector. Some proposals will receive up to $238,000 in federal funding.
Wine and cider interests also won approvals for projects in Washington.
Nine of the recipients are first-time recipients under the program.
Under the 2013 outlay, Washington ag will look at projects expanding exports to new markets, increasing the number of new specialty crop farmers, resolving critical pest and disease problems, enhancing the water quality, improving labor availability, and development of new specialty crop varieties.
Specialty crops under the USD guidelines for the program include fruits, vegetables, seeds, greenhouse crops, nursery products and sod. The aim of the federal program is to provide some assistance to growers not benefiting from the federal government's large commodity subsidy programs such as those for grain and soybeans.
"This funding has provided a tremendous opportunity for Colorado's agricultural industry to pursue a wide variety of innovative projects," says Tom Lipetzky, Colorado Department of Agriculture markets division director. "Over the last five years, these USDA funds have helped Colorado producers conduct research and develop markets to enhance the state's specialty crop industry."
Projects under the 2013 project funding for Colorado include ag infrastructure development for the south state, marketing of specialty potatoes, drought tolerant plant studies, screen for new potato germplasm and study use of hybrids for hardier grapes.