Florida Colleges Receive USDA Funds for Specialty Crop Projects
Around the State
On Friday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced 28 projects across the state would receive more than $4 million in federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) specialty crop block grants. Four universities in the Sunshine State -- the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Florida International University and Florida A&M University -- will be receiving more than half of the federal funds.
The USDA launched the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) in order to “solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops" which it defines as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Applications are made for the grants through the various state agriculture departments.
“These grants will fund innovative projects that increase the sale of Florida products, help us fight invasive pests and bring nutritious food to communities that need it most,” said Putnam on Friday. “We are proud to partner with the USDA, state universities and community organizations to support the state’s $100 billion agriculture industry.”
The University of Florida will receive federal funding of more than $2 million for 12 projects ranging from better technology for farmers, improving citrus yields, combating botanical diseases and finding new nuts and other crops that would do well in the northern part of the state.
The University of South Florida will receive more than $172,650 in federal monies to study reduced fungicides and increased post-harvest yields of strawberries.
Florida A&M University is penciled in to receive $82,240 to improve marketing and the health benefits of muscadine grapes. Wineries in Florida generally rely on the muscadine grape.
Florida International University is scheduled to receive $148,443 to study detecting the laurel wilt pathogen which often proves lethal to crops.
Other recipients include the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation, the Florida Tomato Committee, the Florida Sweet Corn Exchange, Farm Credit of Central Florida, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and Urban Growers Community Economic Development Corp.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.