Kansas Department of Agriculture awards specialty crop block grants

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $303,812 to the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The program’s purpose is to increase opportunities for specialty crop production in Kansas.

“Agriculture is the state’s largest industry and economic driver. This grant program offers an excellent opportunity to allow farmers and ranchers to diversify into other crops including fruit, vegetable and other specialty crops. Through these grants we are able to promote the growth, education and awareness of Kansas agriculture of all kinds and to help connect consumers to agriculture from the farm all the way to the fork,” said Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey.

The following is a list of Kansas projects that will be funded by the grant:

  • Kansas State University, Dr. Eleni Pliakoni, $69,837 – Improve shelf life, quality and safety of locally grown vegetables in Kansas. The overall objective is to improve the efficiency of storage and distribution of specialty crops as well as develop educational resources to educate specialty crops producers on food safety practices.
  • Highland Community College 2015 Viticulture and Enology Extension Project, $50,300 – To help grow the Kansas Grape and Wine Industry Highland Community College will partner withthe Kansas Department of Agriculture to create internships available for students. In addition, a professionally judged wine competition will complement educational opportunities, including workshops.
  • Harper County Community Educational Center, $61,858 – Develop sustainable practices for growing and preparing fruits and vegetables for local markets. The Sunflower Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. will partner with the Harper County Fair Association to make this project possible.
  • Kansas State University, Department of Horticulture, Dr. Cary Rivard, $30,387 – Develop a survey to document economic impact of fruit and vegetable growers in Kansas.
  • Kansas Department of Agriculture, Statewide Survey of Specialty Crops, $35,941 – Partner with K-State Research and Extension to distribute a survey to specialty crop growers in Kansas. The information gained will allow the Kansas Department of Agriculture to better promote the specialty crop industry.
  • Expansion of Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Cost Share Program, $18,848 – Allocate part of one KDA employee’s time to act as a certified third-party USDA GAP auditor who will only audit Kansas farms interesting in obtaining certification. Designating a Kansas auditor complements the existing cost share program.
  • Printing of Statewide Beverage Brochure and Online Tool Supporting Farm Wineries, $29,376 – KDA will partner with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, to increase consumer interest and purchases from farm wineries in Kansas.

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