(Aug. 13) FRESNO, Calif. — The state of California is gathering support from Western Growers and other agriculture industry representatives for more federal funding for specialty crop needs.

Bill Lyons Jr., secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, joined Dennis Cardoza, a congressman from California’s Central Valley, in a meeting at the Fresno city hall to encourage members of the produce industry to support specialty crop block grants.

“We can clearly demonstrate the value of specialty crop funding,” Lyons said in a news release. “The message we wish to deliver to Congress is that this is a great idea worthy of long term support.”

Among other things, California’s specialty crop block grant funded the Buy California initiative, a program of advertising, promotion, marketing, education, research and food safety measures, as well as the national 5 a Day for Better Health program.

Lyons already has joined with fellow secretaries, directors and commissioners at the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture in a resolution urging funding for specialty crop needs in the 2004 Agricultural Appropriations Bill.