Kentucky Department of Agriculture awarded more than $332,000 for specialty crop program
USDA grant is part of a $79.2 million nationwide investment
FRANKFORT (Aug. 29, 2023) – The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has been awarded $332,336.26 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) 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 be able 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 Dr. Ryan Quarles. “These funds provided by USDA will help improve product production and labeling, along with diversification of our markets. These funds will allow 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.”
With this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, Kentucky is investing in innovative projects that will help address the needs of specialty crop producers within the region,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The funded projects will also further USDA’s efforts to ensure U.S. specialty crop products remain competitive in markets across the nation and abroad.”
Through the SCBGP, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is funding eight projects. Among the projects is $41,129.51 awarded to the University of Pikeville to utilize abandoned coal mine infrastructure for sustainable mushroom cultivation. This grant will assess the potential for growing regional specialty mushrooms in abandoned coalmines. The project aims to develop and implement a method for testing the feasibility of recycled waste streams in the production of mushroom growth substrate. It will also help develop regional mushroom varieties and test their feasibility for use in cultivation.
Additional funded projects include:
-- $53,062.10 - Through this project, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center will work with members of the Kentucky Food Action Network (KFAN) to support the establishment of sustainable Food is Medicine practices across Kentucky, which will lead to a decrease in food insecurity and increase in positive health outcomes.
-- $50,339.06 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky to define best production practices for fortified wines made from “Norton” grapes.
-- $47,614.11 – Awarded to the Kentucky Ag Development Advocacy to train specialty crop producers by implementing a curriculum that addresses the needs of beginning and historically underserved farmers for long-term sustainability of fruits, vegetables, and culinary herb crops.
-- $43,761 – Awarded to Rootbound Farm and New Roots, Inc., which will collaborate to bring fresh Kentucky Proud “farm shares” to families facing food insecurity in the traditional “off season” months of November - January.
-- $25,109 – Awarded to the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association through its Certified Kentucky Honey Producers program to improving product labeling for Kentucky honey consumers and expanding honey production in Kentucky.
-- $17,155.26 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture to research varieties of Ribes that are more resistant to White Pine Blister Rust and Mildew limiting potential disease issues for Eastern Kentucky growth.
-- $17,155.26 – Awarded to the University of Kentucky, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, to test if specific plant natural products can suppress the microbial rotting of fruits and vegetables increasing the shelf life of products naturally.
The funding for the SCBGP grants is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and FY2023 funding is awarded for a three-year period beginning Sept. 30, 2023. Since 2006, USDA has invested more than $1 billion through the SCBGP to fund nearly 12,000 projects that have increased the long-term successes of producers and enhanced marketing opportunities for U.S. specialty crops products.
For more information on the grants, visit the USDA's website.