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DelBene praises $3.2 million in Grants to Boost Washington Specialty Crops
The following is a release from Congresswoman Suzan DelBene:
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene praised the announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) today that $3.2 million in grants were awarded to Washington state through the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program. These grants will support Washington producers of fresh fruits and vegetables by funding research to improve growing practices and helping farmers gain access to new international markets.
“Washington’s specialty crops represent millions of dollars of economic activity and thousands of jobs. For us, healthy farms mean a healthy economy,” said DelBene. “The funds announced today will help local farmers grow their crops and enhance the competitiveness of their businesses. These grants also highlight how important it is that Congress step up and pass a Farm Bill. Without one, we will lose this critical source of funding for our specialty crop farmers.”
Below is a partial list of the Washington state projects that were awarded grants today. A full list can be viewed HERE.
- Partner with Whatcom Farm Friends to increase sales of blueberries in Asian markets by conducting field research to generate residue decline curves that will allow the blueberry industry to develop more effective pesticide use patterns using currently registered products to control spotted wing drosophila. ($100,000)
- Partner with the Washington Red Raspberry Commission to reduce the cost of red-raspberry production while minimizing crop losses for growers by developing a systematic approach for cane management through horticultural modifications for physically separating one-year and two-year old canes. These systems will be evaluated for their feasibility to allow mechanized pruning of two-year old canes while maintaining the desired level of yield. In addition, techniques will be developed to bundle one-year old canes together and tie them to the trellis wires. ($169,926)
- Partner with the Washington State Wine Commission in coordination with Visit Seattle to increase sales of Washington wineries by conducting a reverse trade mission with wine buyers and travel journalists from China and Canada enabling attendees to establish sales relationships with Washington wineries and build Washington State’s reputation as a premier destination for wine tourism. ($45,984)
- Partner with Viva Farms to provide an incubator program for new specialty crop producers, host workshops, and work with Washington State University Small Farms Program to carry out a program assessment measuring the community, social, and economic impact of the incubator to be shared with development programs throughout Washington. Matching funds and in-kind instructor time will be provided to support non-specialty crop producers who may be served during open courses. ($115,226)
- Partner with Washington State University to increase the number of farmers in Snohomish County using compost on specialty crops by enabling growers to participate in compost research trials to demonstrate enhanced soil quality, nutrient retention and increased water infiltration rates. ($200,000)
- Partner with Washington State University to allow specialty crop growers to make better decisions by providing them access to the AgWeatherNet portal integrating current and past weather conditions with high resolution spatial hourly weather predictions up to 24 to 72 hours out. ($198,066)
The current 2008 Farm Bill extension expires on September 30th. The US Senate and House of Representatives have passed two different versions of the Farm Bill and must now go to conference to negotiate a final Farm Bill, but time is running out.
As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, DelBene has been a champion for specialty crops, introducing a bill to boost their funding and recognition in the Farm Bill. The House Farm Bill authorizes the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at $72.5 million for fiscal years 2012-17 and $85 million for 2018. Without a passage of a new Farm Bill, funding for the grant program would end.
More information about the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program can be found HERE.