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Farmers to receive grants for assistance with specialty crops

By James Paxson

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    SAGINAW, Michigan (WNEM) — Several farming organizations across the state will receive funding to support the specialty crop industry.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director, Gary McDowell, on Tuesday to announce the state recipients of the 2021 United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The program offers federal dollars to departments of agriculture to support the specialty crop industry.

“I appreciate USDA’s commitment to investing in Michigan’s robust food and agriculture sector,” Whitmer said. “These grants are a win-win for our farmers, producers, distributors and consumers as we look to increase access to Pure Michigan food and agriculture. I appreciate the USDA and Senator Stabenow’s leadership to secure this critical funding in support of Michigan’s vibrant specialty crop industry.”

“The programs supported by these federal grants helps strengthen local and statewide distribution channels giving Michigan’s specialty crop farmers access to more markets and supporting the Governor’s New Michigan Economy plan,” McDowell said. “The grants focus on marketing, training, certifications, food safety, pest control, and plant health for specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, plants and/or flowers. Additionally, this funding enhances the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crops.”

“Michigan leads the nation in the production of many fruits and vegetables and is second in diversity of our crops only to California. Our fruits, vegetables and nursery crops are not only a source of great pride – they are critical to our state’s economy,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said. “This new support is a big win for Michigan agriculture. It will help our farmers keep their competitive edge and continue to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to American families.”

The grants were awarded to:

• $86,950 was given to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board in DeWitt for increasing the productivity of Michigan asparagus through sustainable disease management tactics.

• $99,800 was given to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board in DeWitt for taking asparagus disease management into the future with real-time, in-field sensor data.

• $124,400.00 was given to the Michigan Bean Commission in Frankenmuth for enhancing strategies to communicate the value of Michigan dry Beans: conventional and digital educational programs to increase bean consumption for today’s health-conscious consumers.

• $100,000 was given to the Michigan Bean Commission in Frankenmuth for identification of improved dry bean varieties, maturities, and integrated weed management systems.

• $99,793 was given to the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association in Grand Junction for researching efficacy of growing blueberries in in-ground containers through on-farm trials.

• $98,525 was given to the Michigan Carrot Industry Development Program in DeWitt for advancing weed management in Michigan carrots through novel cultural, electrical, and physical approaches.

• Michigan Carrot Industry Development Program Evaluating and Disseminating Soil Amendment Practices to Mitigate Heavy Metal Uptake by Carrot DeWitt $100,000.00

• $89,000 was given to the Michigan Cherry Committee in DeWitt for branding Montmorency Tart Cherries with a geographical indication.

• $91,555 was given to the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association in Okemos for finding new herbicides and new uses for Michigan Shrub containers.

• $98,814 was given to the Michigan Onion Committee in St. Johns for combining pest control strategies to increase quality of yield of Michigan onions.

• $100,000 was given to the Michigan Potato Industry Commission for working on climate resilience in potato and field and storage assessment in East Lansing.

• $99,979 was given to the Michigan State Horticultural Society in Benton Harbor for improving grape berry moth management in Michigan vineyards.

• $99,984 was given to the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission in Lansing for characterizing apple storage practices and potential risk of listeria contamination.

• $90,591 was given to the Michigan Vegetable Council in St. Johns for increasing vegetable plant establishment and productivity.

• $99,685 was given to the Michigan Vegetable Council in St. Johns for advancing agbot and drone technologies for sustainable soil and weed management in Michigan Vegetables.

• $95,685 was given to the West Central Michigan Horticultural Research, Inc. in Hart for finding solutions to cherry orchard replant disorder using chemical and organic amendments.

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