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State ag department gets $273,000 grant for specialty crop marketing and research

Federal grant dollars will help Kentucky specialty crop producers market their products and will be used for research on alternative crops, Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture was awarded a specialty crop block grant of $273,262.60 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

“Many Kentucky producers are raising specialty crops to make up for lost tobacco income,” Commissioner Farmer said. “This funding will help us continue to diversify our agriculture industry.”

The Department will use some grant funds to partner with the University of Kentucky to create and disseminate recipe cards featuring specialty crops, test the effectiveness of organic production techniques on post-harvest storage life of fruit, construct high tunnels to gather data on crop rotations, and investigate asparagus and persimmon production. Some funding will be used in partnership with the Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association to enable Kentucky growers to market their products at a local, regional and national level.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture conducted a competitive grant process to select the approved projects from proposals submitted by eligible applicants.

The USDA awarded 54 grants totaling $55 million for 827 projects nationwide. The projects are intended to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

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