Fruit vegetable growers get block grant support | Fruit | Vegetables | Michigan Farm News

Fruit, vegetable growers get block grant support

Category: Fruits & Vegetables

by Jess McCarron

berries in basket
Each of the 19 projects are targeted to help specialty crop growers sell more products locally and globally.

More than $1.8 million has been pledged to support Michigan specialty crop growers who produce fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery plants, and flowers, according to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

The USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will award $1,805,339 million to support 19 projects throughout the state.

“Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables are not only a source of great pride – they are also critical to our state’s diverse agricultural economy” Stabenow said. “This new support will help Michigan farmers get their products off the farm and onto our plates.”

Each of the 19 projects are targeted to help specialty crop growers sell more products locally and globally, protect crops from pests and diseases, and market products to be competitive.

Grant recipients include the Cherry Marketing Institute, Michigan Apple Committee, Grow Eastern Market, Michigan Carrot Committee, Michigan Vegetable Council, and Michigan Wine Collaborative, among others. For a complete list of Michigan projects receiving support, visit USDA's website here.

In 2008, Senator Stabenow authored the first ever fruits and vegetables section of a farm bill to provide support for so-called "specialty crops" which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products and floriculture. These crops are critical to the state's diverse agricultural economy, as Michigan leads the nation in producing a wider variety of crops than any state other than California.

“Support for specialty crop producers has been a top priority of mine in the farm bill,” Stabenow said. “I will continue to make sure that Michigan families have better access to healthy, locally grown food, and support our farmers with the tools they need to succeed.”

Prior to 2008, farm bills focused largely on traditional commodity crops and had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. The 2014 farm bill strengthens support for specialty crops and makes major investments in organic crops and local and regional food systems.

Jess McCarron is press secretary for Sen. Debbie Stabenow.