SACRAMENTO — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received $22.9 million out of approximately $72.4 million awarded nationwide.
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 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will fund 69 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 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.
CDFA solicited fixed amount awards to fund projects that address priorities in two areas: 1) the priority to assist California’s specialty crop growers, farmers, producers, and manufacturers in adopting the requirements of and meeting the standards for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act; and 2) the priority to address workforce concerns throughout the specialty crop supply chain, including conforming to labor regulations, securing skilled and unskilled workers, improving labor use efficiency through new technologies, and training the existing workforce in the use of technology.
In keeping with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s vision of a “California for All,” CDFA introduced a Limited Request for Proposals program for non-profit organizations and tribal governments with knowledge and experience in either supporting socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers, or improving access and nutrition education in underserved communities.
CDFA continued its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety in the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These projects represent an ongoing effort to address food safety practices and minimize outbreaks of foodborne illness with proactive research.
The 2019 SCBGP project abstracts are available online at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Specialty_Crop_Competitiveness_Grants/
–California Department of Food and Agriculture
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