Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced 28 projects will receive a total of $4.1 million in USDA specialty crop block grants this year.
The grants support projects ranging from research on citrus greening and detection of the laurel wilt pathogen to growing school nutrition gardens and developing pomegranate and blackberry crops in the state.
“These grants will fund innovative projects that increase the sale of Florida products, help us fight invasive pests and bring nutritious food to communities that need it most,” said Putnam.
The grants fund projects that will enhance the competitiveness of Florida’s specialty crops. Major considerations included the overall economic benefit to the Florida specialty crop industry and whether the project makes good business sense and has a high likelihood of success.
Other priorities for funding included:
- Yielding immediate benefit to the public or industry.
- Addressing barriers to increase access, availability and consumption of Florida grown specialty crops at the local institutional level through improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.
- Buying local programs for institutions, including schools, prisons, hospitals, restaurants and other businesses.
- Increasing access and availability of specialty crops for underserved populations.
- Addressing the issue of food deserts.
- Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge, consumption and access to Florida specialty crops, such as programs designed to facilitate purchase of specialty crops using federal food program benefits.
- Increasing the sales and marketability of Florida commercially grown specialty crops.
For a complete list of projects, click here.