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Idaho funds record number of specialty crop projects

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Idaho's agriculture department will award a record amount of money in 2014 to a record amount of projects designed to benefit the state's specialty crop industry. The department also received a record amount of applications seeking a record amount of funding.

BOISE — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture will award a record $1.72 million in grant funding this year to a record 19 different projects designed to benefit the state’s specialty crop industry.

The totals for funding and projects eclipsed the old records of $926,000 and 12 projects.

The department also received a record 38 applications for funding, far more than the record 26 received in 2012. The total funding request of $3.64 million was also a record, exceeding last year’s record $2.16 million.

Idaho received almost twice as much funding from the USDA for its specialty crop block grant program this year, as a result of more funding allocated to the USDA program by the new farm bill as well as a change in how funding levels for each state are calculated.

“I am excited about this opportunity to invest further in Idaho’s specialty crop industry and know that many significant outcomes will be achieved from the projects funded this year,” ISDA Director Celia Gould told the Capital Press in an email.

Four projects designed to benefit the state’s potato industry will receive a total of $513,000, including a project that will help the state’s spud industry develop international markets and one to help fight zebra chip disease in potatoes.

Idaho’s fast-growing wine industry also received four separate grants totaling $335,000, including one to increase awareness and sales of Idaho wine within the state.

The Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association received two $24,000 grants, one designed to increase consumer awareness of the industry and another to continue the association’s “Plant Something” marketing campaign.

The Idaho Bean Commission will get a $56,685 grant to develop a season-long integrated weed control system in Idaho dry bean fields and a $17,870 grant to develop the bean seed market in Costa Rica.

The Idaho Apple Commission will use a $113,000 grant to try to increase yields and quality of apples in super high-density orchards and the Idaho Hop Commission will use a $68,250 grant to evaluate experimental hop selections in unique Idaho conditions.

Idaho Preferred will get $213,990 to promote Idaho specialty crops through advertising and retail promotions, and the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee was selected to receive $40,290 to promote the region’s onions in Mexico and Central America.

Northwest Nazarene University was awarded a $76,686 grant to expand its research into a crop-monitoring system that uses an unmanned aerial vehicle to detect problems such as water stress or nitrogen deficiency.

The University of Idaho will get a $103,420 grant to study the production of alternative fruits in Idaho and the U.S. Dry Pea & Lentil Council will use a $134,404 grant to enhance domestic consumption of pulse crops by educating the food-service industry about their benefits.

“We’re thrilled that the (ISDA) selected this project for a grant,” said Tim McGreevy, CEO of the USDPLC. “I think it will have a big payoff for Idaho farmers and all farmers involved in growing (pulse crops).”


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