Commissioner Announces $500,000 for NY Specialty Crops


cropsNew York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine has announced the availability of $500,000 in federal funds to enhance the competitiveness of New York specialty crops, which include fruits, vegetables, maple, honey and horticulture crops grown in New York State. The Department is seeking research and grower education focused projects that must have general applicability and statewide significance to the State’s specialty crop industry.

“Rather than receive traditional farm subsidies like other commodities receive, the specialty crop industry – fruits, vegetables and flowers, as well as maple syrup and honey –has a competitive program that provides support for projects that will have widespread impact on the industry. As a result, this program will create effective partnerships, foster innovation, increase efficiencies and reduce costs, thereby leading to increased sales and improving the economic position of many of New York’s farms – a priority of Governor Cuomo’s.”

The purpose of New York’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to enhance the competitiveness of New York specialty crops. There is a total of $500,000 available through this RFP. Projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of New York specialty crops and benefit the industry, rather than an individual product or entity. Government organizations, not-for-profits, and educational institutions are eligible to receive funding, starting at $30,000 per project up to a maximum of $80,000.

Based on input collected from stakeholders in the State’s specialty crop industry, priority will be given to projects that have a research and grower education focus that leads to the production and manufacturing of safe, high quality fresh and/or value-added specialty crop products. Examples include, but are not limited to addressing native and exotic pest and disease threats; extending New York’s growing season through new technologies or improved management practices; developing new seed varieties for optimal performance under New York State conditions; or implementing effective food safety controls.

Applications for the 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program must be received by the Department by May 23, 2011. A copy of the RFP can be found at http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/RFPS.html or by contacting the Department at [email protected].

Specialty crops are defined by USDA as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture), herbs and spices. A detailed list of commonly recognized specialty crops is provided in the RFPs and at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgp.

New York State produces a wide range of specialty crops that include fruits and vegetables, wine, maple syrup, horticulture and nursery crops. Specialty crops generate $1.34 billion annually in New York and make up one-third of the State’s total agricultural receipts. They also rank high nationally in both production and economic value. For example, New York is the leading state in the nation for cabbage; second for apples; third for grapes, cucumbers, cauliflower and maple syrup; and fourth for tart cherries, pears, snap beans and sweet corn.