Today, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will be awarding grants to ten Iowa projects to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Iowa. These federal funds will go into supporting food safety, research, growing, and processing methods. This is all in hopes to encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers that are produced here.
The Department received $244,401.98 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to support the program. The maximum grant award was $24,000. Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups were eligible to apply for funding.
Northey said, “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.”
The money divided up as such:
$14,875 was given to Iowa Nut Growers Association, to investigate, test, and document processing methods, for hazelnut producers in Iowa.
$15,896.23 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to develop and study a low water usage solid set canopy irrigation system to provide frost protection to orchards.
$20,474 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to increase the production capacity and efficiencies of current maple syrup producers.
$22,506 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to provide educational resources and opportunities to transitioning, beginning, and existing Iowa hop growers.
$22,716 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to enhance the ability of Burmese refugee families living in rural southeast Iowa to successfully start their own farming ventures.
$23,252 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to develop species-specific fertilizer requirements for specialty annual bedding plants.
$23,735 was given to Iowa Valley RC&D, to maximize the USDA Group GAP Program through the increased membership of the Iowa Food Hub’s Group GAP Consortium.
$23,978 was given to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, to conduct research on addressing heat stress issues inside high tunnels that lead to crop loss and poor produce quality.
$24,000 was given to Lutheran Services in Iowa, for the Global Greens Program to train and support refugee farmers and help reducing barriers to market access and administration.
$24,000 was given to Practical Farmers of Iowa, to enhance collaborative learning through Farmer-to-Farmer knowledge sharing events throughout Iowa about perennial crops.