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|Money Coming to State for Specialty Crop Promotion
|Illinois is receiving additional funds to promote specialty crops, thanks to a federal block grant.
More than $640,000 is now available for mini-grants that Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesman Jeff Squibb says will expand markets for fresh produce grown in Illinois.
Proposed projects should accomplish one or more of the following industry objectives:
* Increase child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
* Ensure industry participation at meetings of international standard-setting bodies in which the U.S. government participates
* Improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems
* Assist all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing "Good Agricultural Practices," "Good Handling Practices," "Good Manufacturing Practices," and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
* Invest in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes
* Enhance food safety
* Develop new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops
* Improve pest and disease control
* Promote organic and sustainable production practices.
Projects that improve food access in underserved communities or expand local agricultural economies also are eligible for assistance.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept grant applications until 4 p.m. on April 30. Funds will be awarded early next year. Application forms and instructions can be obtained on the department's website at www.agr.state.il.us or by calling (217) 524-9129.
Squibb says the number of farmers' markets in Illinois has nearly tripled, increasing from 97 in 1999 to nearly 300 today. Nationally, Illinois ranks No. 1 for its pumpkin production, and in the top 10 in the production of many other specialty crops, such as asparagus, cauliflower, peas and lima beans.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|02 12 10 by Newsroom
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