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Maryland Announces Funding for Fruits and Vegetables Crops

Selected Projects include “Reach for the Peach” and food safety

St. Mary's County Farmers market (Credit: Edwin Remsberg)

St. Mary’s County Farmers market (Credit: Edwin Remsberg)

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced the recipients of over $376,000 in federal grants that will fund projects designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Maryland. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. Funding for the grants came through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“We are pleased to announce awardees of the Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The 2014 Farm Bill provided significant grant funding dedicated to specialty crops to become available,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder “These funds are a great opportunity to help farmers and value-added producers advance and promote local specialty crops in the marketplace and spark new markets, healthy eating, and job creation.”

The department created a competitive grant process with a review committee to award these federal funds. The following is a snapshot of the funded projects:

Chesapeake Farm to Table – $18,584 – Develop a low-cost, shared infrastructure system for post-harvest handling and storage of winter crops to help expand sales to restaurants.

Grow & Fortify – $28,071 – Develop a state and county-level regulatory matrix that will provide an outline of the permits and processes required for specialty crop producers to sell and market raw and value-added agricultural products.

Maryland Department of Agriculture – $254,051

  • Continue to strengthen consumer awareness of local specialty crops and connect specialty crop farmers with markets through seasonal promotions of Maryland specialty crops via mass media;; direct partnerships with Maryland specialty crop associations such as the Mar-Del Watermelon Association, Maryland Cut Flowers Association, and Maryland Apple Promotion Board; and other strategic promotional avenues – $107,952;
  • Continue to mitigate specialty crop food safety risks by providing training, certification of compliance with food safety practices, cost-share, and technical assistance to specialty crop producers and packers transitioning from voluntary food safety programs, USDA Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices,  to be in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule – $130,884; and
  • 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 – $15,215.

Maryland Horticultural Society – $15,000 – “Reach for the Peach” education program and campaign will create a social media platform and marketing toolbox for peach growers to use during the season to increase consumer awareness of locally produced peaches for the retail and farmers market segments.

University of Maryland – $30,640 – Create new recommendations for small fruit growers to sustainably manage spotted wing drosophila in red raspberries through the evaluation of on-farm management practices (i.e. carrier water volume, sprayer type, and canopy density).

USDA announced over $62.5 million in specialty crops grants to U.S. states and territories that will support 693 initiatives across the country to strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Megan Guilfoyle
Public Information Officer
Telephone: 410-841-5889

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