Boxes of strawberries.
January 14, 2020
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Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $600,000 Available to Increase Competitiveness of New York’s Specialty Crop Industries

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces $600,000 Available to Increase Competitiveness of New York’s Specialty Crop Industries
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Proposals for Research and Grower Education Currently Being Accepted
Nearly $14 Million Awarded for Projects Supporting New York State Growers Since 2006

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced up to $600,000 is now available to enhance New York State’s specialty crop industry. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is seeking proposals for research and grower education projects that aim to increase the competitiveness of New York’s specialty crop producers and strengthen New York’s agricultural industry. The funding is provided through the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Since the USDA began the program in 2006, New York State has awarded nearly $14 million for 139 specialty crop projects across the State.

Commissioner Ball said, “New York’s specialty crops are incredibly valuable to our State’s economy, environment, and way of life. The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is a vital tool that will help our farmers continue to make progress in key areas such as pest management and operational efficiency, and to further develop innovative production strategies. It is programs like these that help to ensure the continued strength of New York’s agricultural industry for years to come.”

New York State is a leading producer of a diverse array of specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, maple syrup, honey, herbs and spices, and nursery products. These crops are important to both New York’s farm economy and consumers.

Not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, and local governments are all eligible to submit research and grower education proposals that will strengthen the viability and competitiveness of specialty crop producers throughout the State. Proposals up to $100,000 will be accepted.

The Request for Proposals identifies several priority areas, including:

  • Research and/or education addressing a key conventional or organic production problem or need specific to New York State;
  • Developing and increasing the use of Integrated Pest Management strategies and programs;
  • Prioritizing and addressing native and exotic pests and disease threats through development of pest risk assessments;
  • Supporting plant breeding for the development of specialty crops resistant to exotic and native pests;
  • Applied research and development to extend the growing season of New York specialty crops through new technologies, improved management practices, or other innovative production strategies; and
  • Developing new seed varieties and specialty crops with optimal performance under New York State conditions.

Proposals must have statewide significance to the specialty crop industry; work that only benefit a single organization, institution, individual, or commercial product will not be considered.

Applicants must submit their proposals by midnight Sunday, February 9, 2020. View the application, or find more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

Peter Ferrante of Wallkill View Farms and New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) Vice Chair said, “The work done with Specialty Crop funding is truly impressive. Over the last five years alone, New York researchers have advanced agricultural knowledge and practices in apples, beets, corn, cucumbers, hops, grapes, kale, mushrooms, oysters, onions, and even Christmas trees. This type of agricultural research and education is critical for the long-term success of New York farmers.” 

The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Upon the recommendation of the New York State Specialty Crop Block Grant Advisory Committee, NYFVI assembles review panels to evaluate proposals and submits its recommendations to the Department.