$1 Million in Fed Funds for New York Specialty Crops

specialty cropsNew York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine has announced the availability of $1,000,000 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, food safety and marketing focused projects that must have general applicability and statewide significance to the State’s specialty crop industry. Applications are due May 16, 2012.

“Specialty crops represent a wide range of important commodities here in New York State,” the Commissioner said. “Since these crops do not receive any traditional assistance in the form of subsidies, it is important that we continue to support them through other means.”

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 $100,000.

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 and marketing projects that increase the long-term sales and competitiveness of New York’s specialty crop producers.

Applications for the 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program must be received by the Department by May 16, 2012. A copy of the RFP can be found on the Department’s website or by contacting Sue Santamarina 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 on USDA’s website.

Specialty crops generate over $1 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 ranked second in the nation for apples and cabbage; third for grapes, cauliflower, pumpkins, snap beans and maple syrup; and fourth for tart cherries, squash and sweet corn.