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September 25, 2013
~ Benefitting crops include tomatoes, wine grapes, Christmas trees, fruit, cider, chick peas, fresh greens, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and more ~
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has announced funding for 19 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 tomatoes, wine grapes, Christmas trees, fruit, cider, chick peas, fresh greens, strawberries and Brussels sprouts all strive to benefit from these grant awards. Other grants focus on food safety, reducing soil and nutrient loss, providing fresh local produce to schools and restaurants, connecting rural producers with urban buyers and more. Grants ranged from $9,000 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 is no exception. 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 $451,981.48 for the following projects, which are listed in no particular order:

For more information on specialty crops in Virginia, contact VDACS’ Division of Marketing at 804.786.3530.

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