Specialty-crop block grants will support agricultural research, marketing

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services awarded 11 federally funded specialty-crop block grants for 2016, covering agricultural research and marketing projects.

“More than $1 million was awarded this year, and all of these projects will help further the state’s $84 billion agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Selected projects ranged from breeding programs and soil improvements to food safety initiatives and marketing.”

North Carolina’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass and sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops. Grant proposals were submitted by nonprofit organizations, commodity groups, government agencies and universities.

The department awarded grants to the following recipients and projects:

The Altapass Foundation – Orchard at Altapass Heirloom Apple Trees;

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association – Local Produce Safety Initiative;

N.C. Christmas Tree Association – Targeting Millennials with Fraser Fir Promotions;

N.C. Sod Producers Association – Turfgrass Sod Promotional Campaign;

N.C. SweetPotato Commission – Increasing Hispanic Consumption of Sweet Potatoes;

N.C. State University (multiple grants) – Breeding Hops Varieties for North Carolina, Control of Bitter Rot in Apples, Producing Hemlocks for Landscape/Forest Restoration, Improvement in Water Quality Increases Profits, Improving Christmas Trees through Genetic Analysis, and Biochar: The RX for Sandy Soil?.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is administered by the department and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the 2014 farm bill.

For more information about the program, go to www.NCSpecialtyCropGrant.org.

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