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USDA Webinar Spreads the Word about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

The webinar talked about how the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program helps blueberries and other specialty crops remain competitive in the market.

The webinar talked about how the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program helps blueberries and other specialty crops remain competitive in the market.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently hosted “Grant Opportunity: Enhancing the Competitiveness of Specialty Crops(use Playback option to hear webinar), the seventh in a series of webinars designed to educate the general public about federal fruit and vegetable programs.

The latest interactive webinar explains the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops—fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Trista Etzig, manager of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, delivered the information directly and personally answered participants’ questions.

There was a tremendous response to the webinar, as nearly 400 people dialed in to hear Etzig speak.  “The presentation allows for more specialty crop participants to connect and join together to help support the industry’s growth,” said participant Delayne Reeves, marketing representative of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Marketing and Promotions.  “We appreciated the well-organized format and clear information,” said Theresa Noyes, member of the board of directors of La Junta Heritage Center in Fort Davis, Texas.  “When the webinar ended, we were certain what our next steps should be.”

We have placed “Grant Opportunity: Enhancing the Competitiveness of Specialty Crops” in our webinar library.  Now anyone can watch the webinar to learn more about the program and how to apply for a grant.  Hear USDA Fruit and Vegetable Programs specialists answer questions from participants, or view the rest of the webinar series.  Also, share any suggestions you have for our continued outreach about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Applications for individual specialty crop projects must be submitted to State Departments of Agriculture to be considered for funding.  State agencies are encouraged to partner with specialty crop stakeholders, including socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.  Projects funded in the past have focused on marketing and promotion, education, production, research, food safety, and pest and plant health.

Those who still have questions about the grant program can check out our helpful Q&A.  USDA continues to deliver information in the most convenient manner to support the produce industry and invites anyone to participate in these free, interactive webinars.

The next webinar in the Fruit and Vegetable Program series, Market News Portal Training—How to Get the Most out of USDA’s Market News Reports and Information,” will take place on Feb. 24, 2011 at 2 p.m. ET.  It will cover how to get the most out of the USDA’s fruit and vegetable market news reports.  Registration is required to participate.

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