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California agriculture leads nation in specialty crop funding

Staff Writer |
California received $19.2 million out of approximately $60.6 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block (SCBGP) grants awarded nationwide.

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The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops including floriculture.

The program will fund 54 projects, awarding grants ranging from $50,000 to $450,000 to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities.

Selected through a competitive process, these projects focus on increasing sales of specialty crops by leveraging the California Grown identity; increasing consumption by expanding the specialty crop consumer market, improving product availability, and providing nutritional education for consumers; training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; and conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.

Additionally, there are fixed-amount awards to fund projects that address workforce concerns throughout the specialty crop supply chain, including conforming to labor regulations, securing skilled and unskilled workers, and training the existing workforce to effectively utilize new technologies.

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