SALEM — The USDA is providing $2.1 million to help promote specialty crops in Oregon, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery plants.
Funding was announced Oct. 7, and comes from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Fourteen projects will receive grants in Oregon, focused on increasing production, marketing, food safety compliance and new value-added products.
Alexis Taylor, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said the grants will provide resources for farmers to become more competitive in the marketplace.
"Specialty crops are a critical part of agriculture in the state," Taylor said. "The projects funded with these dollars are important to the diversity of Oregon agriculture across the state."
Oregon grows more than 200 different crops statewide, and ranks sixth in the country for specialty crop production.
Commodity groups, trade associations, nonprofits and universities can all apply for specialty crop block grants through the state Department of Agriculture. Over the past nine years, Oregon has received nearly $18 million in grants, funding nearly 200 projects.
This year's grants include:
• $120,469 to the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch in Bend, to design and build a hydroponic lettuce system and integrate it with existing agricultural therapy and education programs.
• $173,158 to the Northwest Cider Association, to host consumer and industry tasting events in California, promoting Oregon craft cider.
• $78,453 to Oregon Aglink, to expand the organization's Adopt-A-Farmer program which invites classrooms to visit farms and see where their food comes from.
• $174,904 to Wilco, a farmers co-op based in the Willamette Valley, to assist in growing the domestic sales of Oregon hazelnuts in Northeast markets in 2020.
• $43,670 to Pear Bureau Northwest, to create an introductory and educational video about the Oregon pear industry to show in 30 or more countries during trade shows and conventions.
• $174,942 to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Foundation, for a 90-day Women's Farm to Food Accelerator to provide training for female specialty crop producers.
• $56,416 to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, for classroom projects focused on specialty crops.
• $166,600 to the Oregon Hazelnut Commission, to enhance Sustainability and Stewardship Program identifying best production and pest management practices.
• $153,481 to the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, to improve market development and access for Northwest berries.
• $174,608 to Oregon State University, for research into turfgrass seed crop residue as a management tool to reduce weed contamination in commercial turfgrass seed lots.
• $152,098 to Oregon State University, for research into sensor-based technology to enhance irrigation efficiency for winegrapes, hazelnuts and nursery plants.
• $174,578 to Oregon State University, for studying the use of plant probiotics in strawberries to improve food safety.
• $174,943 to Pacific Coast Producers, to expand value-added cherry sales from Oregon producers to bars and restaurants.
• $175,000 to Rockwood Community Development Corp. in Portland, to increase consumption of Oregon fruits and vegetables in communities of color.
For more information about Specialty Crop Block Grants, visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture's website at www.oregon.gov/ODA.