SACRAMENTO — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced funding for the 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). California received $21.3 million out of approximately $72.9 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 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is very important to the State of California as the largest producer of specialty crops,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This program supports local and regional needs of farmers and ranchers to help them be competitive and also improves access to healthy California grown foods. We appreciate this partnership with USDA in making these funds available.”
CDFA will fund 50 projects, awarding grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 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 unique qualities of specialty crops grown in California; increasing consumption by expanding the specialty crop consumer market, improving food availability and providing nutritional education for consumers; investing in training for growers/producers/operators to address current and future challenges; and conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.
In addition, CDFA is continuing 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 Specialty Crop Farm Bill Program was originally authorized by the 2004 Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act and received mandatory Farm Bill funding through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Since 2008, a total investment of over $321 million from the program has funded marketing, research, nutrition education and food safety efforts, including projects that support multi-commodity, statewide promotion of California Grown specialty crops; improve school children’s nutritional knowledge as well as sales of locally grown specialty crops to school districts; assist farmers in complying with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act; develop and strengthen markets for fruits and vegetables grown by beginning and historically underserved farmers; assist California specialty crop farmers adapt to the challenges of climate change and severe drought; manage pests and diseases, including integrated pest control efforts; and conduct research to prevent foodborne illness.The 2022 SCBGP project abstracts are available online at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/Specialty_Crop_Competitiveness_Grants/