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Georgia To Receive Specialty Crop Grants


10/4/2012 2:05:17 PM


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $101 million in grants to support America's specialty crops producers, who provide the fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutritious foods for millions of healthy American meals each day.

Approximately $55 million of the total will be invested in 56 specialty crop block grants to states that fund 748 initiatives across the country to strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers.

An additional $46 million will go to support new and continuing research and extension activities to address challenges and opportunities for growers and businesses that rely on a sustainable, profitable specialty crops industry. Vilsack made the announcement before touring the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison, Wis., which prepares food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, for delivery to local public schools.

"By investing in projects that stimulate growth and development for specialty crop growers of all sizes, we're helping American farmers establish a marketplace for new businesses opportunities in each region of the country," said Vilsack. "These investments will support local and regional markets, and improve access to healthy food for millions of children and supply thousands of farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. The grants also help growers solve technology needs or make better informed decisions on profitability and sustainability, leading to stronger rural American communities and businesses."

The goal of USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crop producers. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands received grants this year, totaling $55 million. Visit to review the 2012 project summaries and view a list of awards by location.


Award made to Georgia Department of Agriculture
Amount Awarded: $1,132,564.10 - Number of Projects: 17

Partner with the University of Georgia to evaluate a newly developed sanitizer for control of foodborne and bacterial plant pathogens on tomatoes

Increase awareness of, and desire for, Georgia Grown specialty crops by educating the consuming public through social media, earned media, point of sales, community organizations, and limited mass advertising. Matching funds will be used to cover expenditures for non-specialty crop commodities

Increase sales of specialty crops at Georgia's many community-based farmers' markets by providing farmers' markets with promotional materials, signage, and advertisements. All printed materials and advertising will be used only to promote specialty crops

Partner with the Georgia Christmas Tree Association to increase sales of Georgian Christmas trees by running commercial spots promoting Georgian Christmas trees

Partner with the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association to help expand the marketing of Georgia produce and increase the competiveness of Georgia products by supporting the participation of 15 to 20 specialty crop farms and agribusiness organizations at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in October 2012

Partner with Georgia Organics to increase sales of specialty crops at farmers markets by driving 15,000 new customers to six target farmers market through the development and execution of a broad marketing effort consisting of farmers market welcome packets, a market email listserv, and the development and implementation of a loyalty incentive plan to incentivize consumers to become repeat customer. Tokens will be imprinted with "Produce Only" and all marketing materials will be branded for specialty crop use only

Partner with the Georgia Peach Council to increase the number of retailers selling Georgia peaches by providing retailers with advertising materials such as point of sale materials and by advertising direct to the consumer through print media, billboards, and news releases

Partner with the Georgia Pecan Growers Association to increase sales of Georgia pecans by updating and maintaining the website, supporting inbound trade missions, and conducting domestic promotions including advertising in Healthy Living magazine

Partner with Georgia Public Broadcasting to increase Georgia specialty crop sales and consumption by creating 10 three-minute vignettes to teach Georgians how to utilize specialty crops for year-round healthy eating

Partner with the Vidalia Onion Committee to increase retail sales and consumption of Vidalia onions by a younger demographic by developing, producing, disseminating and promoting an integrated baseball-themed campaign that encourages retail stocking and promotion of Vidalia onions

Partner with Emory University to expand public awareness of Georgia specialty crops and change consumers' awareness by expanding educational food gardens on campus, supporting educational events and chefs' tastings at the Emory Farmers' Market, and developing and disseminating educational materials at the Sustainable Food Fair. Matching funds will be used to cover expenditures for non-specialty crop commodities

Partner with the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association to increase specialty crop producers understanding of and ability to overcome the production, marketing and food safety issues they face by providing them with educational opportunities such as workshops and conferences and providing one-on-one technical assistance and consultations

Partner with the Hospitality Foundation of Georgia to raise awareness of Georgia specialty crops among students and adults by producing and distributing six ten-minute instructional videos designed to engage the students in cooking with specialty crops and to prepare them to conduct live demonstrations at farmers markets

Partner with the University of Georgia to develop and promote sustainable, low water-use turfgrass systems in Georgia by providing sustainable turfgrass training and publishing articles in the popular press

Partner with Fort Valley State University to develop technology and innovative horticultural practices for profitable production of stevia in Georgia by studying the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of direct seeding versus transplanting, intercropping of stevia in fruit and tree nut crops, and monitoring and quantitatively exploring the potential to improve sweet agents in stevia leaves

Partner with the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association to assist specialty crop producers in controlling weeds by researching the feasibility and profitability of intercropping sweet corn with melons

Partner with Georgia Tech Research Institute to develop tools necessary to identify volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by Armillaria root rot, which typically affects peach trees and is responsible for more than $10 million in production losses each year. In the long-run, the data collected through this research will lead to the development of an early detection sensor, which would allow growers to stop Armillaria before it spread through the whole orchard


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