New Jersey has received an $816,127 Specialty Crop Block Grant to fund 13 initiatives to benefit Garden State crops such as fruits, vegetables, as well as horticulture and nursery. The grants are part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote specialty crops in the nation. Most of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category. Specialty crops account for $882.4 million in sales annually in the Garden State.
“These USDA grants provide immeasurable benefits for our specialty crop producers,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “The organizations receiving the grants will use the funds toward research, market development, education and outreach, highlighting the many benefits a vibrant agriculture industry brings to the lives of Garden State residents.”
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will use a portion of the funding to support the popular Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs. A majority of the projects support agricultural marketing and cooperative development. Several research projects also are included.
The projects to be funded by New Jersey’s grant include:
- Jersey Fresh Program –support print, radio and cable television advertising, as well as New Jersey Transit bus outdoor advertising.
- American Cranberry Growers Association – utilize infrared thermal imaging in cranberries to study heat stress, optimize irrigation and monitor plant health.
- Cooperative Growers Association – reestablish wholesale and retail produce sales to expand its sales to the public.
- Garden Club of New Jersey – provide small grants to expand community gardens throughout the State.
- Garden State Wine Growers Association – wine industry branding, marketing, visibility and technology improvement campaign.
- Middlesex County Board of Agriculture – develop a website to promote direct sales of Middlesex County farm products to the public.
- New Jersey Agricultural Society – work with New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger to educate low-income families and the general public about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.
- New Jersey Beekeepers Association — increase overwintering survival of honey bees and native pollinator populations.
- New Jersey Blueberry Growers Association — develop monitoring and management tactics for the emerging Spotted Wing Drosophila pest.
- New Jersey Farm Bureau – conduct experiments in the distribution of fresh produce in Farm to School food service: innovations in social media between farmers and end users.
- New Jersey Peach Promotion Council – expand the scope of promotion and advertising campaign through the use of website and promotional media, trade advertising, retail promotions, press releases, special promotional and marketing events, consumer advertising, recipe contests, print materials, new product research and marketing impact research.
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County – Annie’s Project 2013 for New Jersey Greenhouse Growers — focus on teaching woman greenhouse growers business and production skills.
- Trenton Farmers Market – promote special commodity promotion days at the farmers market, such as Strawberry, Blueberry, Corn, Peach, Melon and Apple Days. Each special promotional day will be advertised and samples will be provided to the public and there will be special attractions for families and children.
The New Jersey grant was announced today by the USDA, part of $55 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants funding 748 projects throughout the nation for 2013.