Specialty Crop Block Grants awarded
The Kansas Department of Agriculture has awarded grant funds to organizations across the state to promote the state’s specialty crop sector.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $239,566 to the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The program is designed to improve the Kansas specialty crop industry, which includes various horticulture products, including fruits and vegetables, turf grass, tree nuts, dried fruits, nursery crops and flowers. The Kansas Department of Agriculture then passed the funds along to other groups.
“The financial resources provided from this grant will help the specialty crop sector of Kansas agriculture expand production, increase education, awareness and training, and provide increased opportunities for consumers to identify and purchase Kansas products,” said Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman.
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crops. According to USDA, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Services, has awarded more than $293 million since 2009. The program is part of USDA’s integrated approach to programs and policies that stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Guam received grants this year, totaling $52 million.
The following is a list of projects that will be funded by the grant:
1. Kansas Department of Agriculture GAP Auditor, $5,658.
Improve specialty crop production food safety practices and increase the number of specialty crop producers seeking and attaining Good Agricultural Practices certification by training a state employee to be a GAP auditor.
2. Using Technology to Connect Kansas Specialty Crops and Consumers, $54,507.
Create awareness about Kansas specialty crops and products available online through the “From the Land of Kansas Market” program by providing an on-line retail store that would offer specialty crop producers access to post their available products without the need to spend personal capital to invest in their own marketing site and allow buyers to purchase their products. Matching funds will be utilized to cover expenditures for non-specialty crops.
3. Kansas Rural Center “From Tunnel to Table,” $34,130.
Partner with the Kansas Rural Center to increase Kansas specialty crop producers’ knowledge of options and decision making criteria needed to incorporate polytunnel solutions on their farms by producing a thoroughly researched polytunnel comparison and resource guide, farm decision-making tool, and a series of regional on-the-ground workshops that demonstrate the different polytunnel options available.
4. Highland Community College 2014 Viticulture and Encology Extension Project, $34,750.
Partner with Highland Community College to help the Kansas grape and wine industry to grow and improve fruit and wine quality through consultations and educational workshops and make planting grapes more cost and time efficient through the use of a vine transplanter.
5. Shared Incubator Kitchen at K-State Olathe, $60,360.
Partner with Kansas State University, Olathe to increase the value of specialty crops in Kansas thru commercialization of new food products that would benefit both growers and consumers by establishing a shared-use incubator kitchen for specialty crop entrepreneurs to create local value-added specialty crop products, promote local foods, facilitate grower education, and enhance public access to local specialty crop foods.
6. Education and Assistance to Expand Kansas Vineyards, $25,530.
Partner with the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association to help expand Kansas wine/grape vineyards and increase Kansan wine/grape grower knowledge of wine/grape production by educational workshops, informational sessions on available micro-loans, networking opportunities, and cost share monies for growers to purchase vines for planting.
7. Grant Administration, $24,642.
Perform pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by federal and state requirements and regulations.
Grants were available to projects involving research, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety and security, pest and disease, education, “buy local” programs, promotion, marketing, more efficient and cost-effective distribution systems, environmental and conservational concerns, product development and developing cooperatives.
For more information, visit KDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant webpage at http://agriculture.ks.gov/ksda-services/specialty-crop-block-grant-and-organic-cost-share-grant-programs.