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In a conference call Oct. 1, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $55 million in Specialty Crop Block Grant funding and $46 million for new and continuing specialty crop research.
The $55 million in proposed block grant funding will be distributed among 748 initiatives, Vilsack said. They include programs benefiting farmers’ markets, farm-to-school initiatives, new growers, good agricultural practices readiness, sustainability efforts and other initiatives.
The $46 million for proposed research funding will cover 14 programs, Vilsack said. One major initiative will funnel $9 million to the fight against citrus greening in Florida. That will concentrate on halting the spread of greening from infected trees to healthy trees, Vilsack said.
Other projects will cover genomic research on spinach, boosting the quality of locally grown produce and helping locally grown producers be profitable.