United Fresh Applauds as Merrigan Announces $55M in Specialty Crop Block Grants

For Immediate Release, September 17, 2010

Contact: Patrick Delaney pdelaney@unitedfresh.org; 202-303-3400 ext. 417

Grants Fund 827 Projects Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A day after her morning address to the specialty crop industry at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference, USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the award of block grants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The funding is designed to address the needs of the specialty crop industry by funding projects in each state that increase public access to and consumption of specialty crops. Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, a total of $55 million in grants will fund 827 projects in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The funding represents a 10 percent increase over last year. “United Fresh applauds today’s announcement by Deputy Secretary Merrigan of the full $55 million in specialty crop block grants,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. “United Fresh has long supported this funding as an effective and efficient way to enable the fruit and vegetable industry to be more competitive on a local and regional level, thus boosting the industry as a whole.” Notable awards in today’s announcement include grants of $17.3 million to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, $4.8 million to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, $3.7 million to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and $1.8 million each to the Oregon and Texas Departments of Agriculture. A complete listing of grants and summary of awards can be downloaded at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp.

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