FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has been awarded $333,320.94 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program as part of a $79.2 million investment to increase opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other growers across the country. This USDA grant will help the Kentucky Department of Agriculture fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research.
“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide assistance to our producers seeking to find new and inventive ways to enhance their products and the future of Kentucky agriculture,” said Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “These funds provided by USDA will help with early research and new market development that will provide new and unique opportunities for Kentucky farm families, all while enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops in Kentucky. Specialty crops make up a significant part of Kentucky’s agricultural economy, and there is plenty of room to grow.”
“USDA applauds Kentucky’s continued commitment to supporting our nation’s producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP),” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The projects funded will foster innovative research and new market opportunities within the specialty crop sector, while furthering USDA’s goals of creating a more fair and equitable food system and supporting local and regional producers.”
Through the SCBGP, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is funding seven projects. Among the projects, is $69,188 awarded to the Lexington Farmers’ Market to address long-term agricultural stability and sustainability by collaboratively implementing a support and training program for farmers in underrepresented groups. The project will use stakeholder technical assistance to address an ongoing lack of holistic technical support for growers entering the specialty crop marketplace.
Additional funded projects focus in areas such as research, floriculture, and farm sustainability. Other awards to Kentucky recipients include:
• $30,465 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky through a series of field research trails to evaluate organically applicable strategies to effectively control harlequin bug attacking cruciferous crops.
• $44,374 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky to explore energy-efficient strategies to improve the Kentucky floriculture industry.
• $44,641 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky Vegetable Crops Extension to evaluate the use of different resistant cultivars and planting dates in spring and fall for management of lettuce drop, a common fungal disease of lettuce in high tunnels.
• $47,043 – Awarded to the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) to implement a two-year project piloting a Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool (FSAT) by adapting an open-sourced self-assessment tool that farmers can use to improve the sustainability of their in-field management practices.
• $49,433 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky’s Department of Ag Economics, who will work with the University’s Health and Wellness program to develop Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) peer promotion groups.
• $47,022 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky to develop a weed management program for Kentucky vineyards using King Stropharia inoculated mulch as an alternative to synthetic herbicide use.
For more information on the grants, visit the USDA’s website.
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