Arkansas will receive $302,776 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)Specialty Crop Block Grant program to fund eight specialty crop projects this year. A list of the eight Arkansas grant recipient organizations and project descriptions can be found here.
Nationwide, 56 projects were funded for a total of $62.5 million and can be found at this link.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will use the grant to conduct research on the use of cover crops for summer vegetable production and to build collaboration about Arkansas blackberry growers.
“We are grateful for the funding and look forward to working with farmers across the state on these projects,” Dr. Amanda McWhirt of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service said.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and state departments of agriculture. The goal of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture.
Specialty crops are defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). The Arkansas specialty crop industry creates 27,135 jobs and has a $1.4 billion economic impact in the agriculture industry, the top industry sector in the state.
“The Arkansas Agriculture Department is pleased to help administer the Specialty Crop Block Grant funds that provide assistance to this important sector of Arkansas’s agriculture industry. These funds will help Arkansas organizations provide needed outreach and promotional efforts for Arkansas specialty crops, fund specialty crop research initiatives, and help create value-added products from surplus specialty crops. We look forward to working with the recipients on these exciting projects that provide economic benefit to producers and our rural communities,” Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said.
Arkansans interested in applying for Specialty Crop Block Grants program funding must apply through the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD). Applications for the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will be accepted by the AAD early next year. Contact Christian Olson at [email protected] for details.