2012 PRESS RELEASES
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October 4, 2012
STATE ANNOUNCES NEARLY $500,000 IN SPECIALTY CROP GRANTS FOR VIRGINIA
~ Benefitting crops include tomatoes, strawberries, wine grapes, pumpkins, gourds and more ~
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has announced funding for 22 agriculture-related projects that will promote and enhance the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops. The projects resulted from the competitive grant process established by VDACS for USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant funds.
Crops such as wine grapes, pumpkins, vegetables, Christmas trees, strawberries, honey bees, ornamental gourds and Virginia grown plants that can improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay all strive to benefit from these grant awards, and in addition, farmers will learn new methods of growing, protecting, certifying and marketing specialty crops. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $30,000 per organization.
“These grants represent nearly a half-million dollar investment in Virginia’s economy that will boost economic development and create agribusiness jobs in the state,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “Each year I am amazed at the innovative projects that receive grants, and this year’s grant recipients have been especially creative in the ways they will enhance production, set up distribution systems and train our state’s farmers to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops in Virginia. I congratulate these individuals, educational institutions and organizations for pursuing concepts that will help growers add value and enhance marketing opportunities across Virginia.”
The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorized the USDA to provide funds to the states to promote specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops. When considering grants for the USDA Specialty Crop Program, VDACS gave priority to projects that included the following activities: assisting farmers in transitioning into specialty, high-value agricultural initiatives that address the eligible specialty crops; increasing net farm income through high-value or value-added enterprises; finding new ways to market or to add value to specialty agricultural products; and developing pilot and demonstration programs in specialty agriculture that have the potential for transferability within rural Virginia.
VDACS is awarding grants totaling $495,635.04 for the following projects, which are listed in no particular order:
- Optimal Nitrogen Fertilizer Management for Pumpkin Production in Virginia, Mark Reiter, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg
- Transitioning Small, Medium and Large Scale Specialty Crop Farmers from USDA GAP Certification to the Harmonized Audit – Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon
- Development of a Value-Adding and Agricultural Processing Facility in SW Virginia, Michael Burton, Sustain Floyd, Floyd
- Virginia Wineries Association Cooperative: Virginia Wine Online, Laurie Aldrich, Virginia Wineries Association, Richmond
- Benefits and Potential Drawbacks of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Vegetable Crops, Tom Kuhar, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
- Virginia Wineries Commonwealth Quality Alliance, Laurie Aldrich, Virginia Wineries Association, Richmond
- Phase III, Marketing Expansion Initiative Promoting Virginia Grown Christmas Trees, Jeff Miller, Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association, Christiansburg
- Investigating the Lifecycle of Ripe Rot of Grape Caused by Colletotrichum Species, Mizuho Nita, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
- Enhancing the Managerial Skills and Competitiveness of Virginia Strawberry Growers, Gail Moody Milteer, VDACS, Franklin
- Financial Viability of Grafted Tomatoes, Kathleen O’Hara, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Lexington
- Prince William Regional Beekeepers Queen Rearing Group, Karla Eisen, Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association, Prince William
- Taking Direct Marketers to the Next Level with Educational Workshops, Catherine Belcher, Virginia Farmers Direct Marketing Association, Richmond
- Improve Sustainable Beekeeping in Virginia through Development of Genetically Superior Queen Bees, Creation of Queen Rearing Program and Educational Outreach, Sean Kenny, Norfolk Beekeepers, Norfolk
- Preparing Specialty Crop Farmers to Enter the Institutional Market through Education, Outreach and GAP Training, Emily Manley, Local Food Hub, Inc., Charlottesville
- Improving Vegetable Crop Production, Kevin Semones, Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association, Hillsville
- Use of Haygrove to Manage Weed, Insect Pressure, Disease and Soil Fertility in Virginia Grown Organic Strawberry Farms, Asmare Atalay, Virginia State University, Petersburg
- Increasing Sales and Production of Ornamental Gourds in Virginia, Kevin Semones, Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association, Hillsville
- Utilizing Virginia Grown Plants to Improve Chesapeake Bay Water Quality, Lorene Blackwood, Virginia Green Industry Council, Christiansburg
- Arcadia’s Food Hub – Linking Farmers with Consumers in the Washington, D.C. Region, Matthew Mulder, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, Alexandria
- Specialty Hard Cider Apple Varieties, Maureen Kelley, Nelson County, Lovingston
- Hops Planting Cost-Share Program, Maureen Kelley, Nelson County, Lovingston
- Education and Demonstration of High Tunnel Fresh Market Vegetable Production for Small Farms and the Community, Sara Reiter, Eastern Shore Resource Conservation and Development Council, Melfa
- The Need for Bees, Fred P. Wydner, III, Pittsylvania County Beekeepers Association (PCBA), Chatham
For more information on specialty crops in Virginia, contact VDACS’ Division of Marketing at 804.786.3530.