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Specialty crop block grant awarded to Louisiana

October 15, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it is awarding the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry $338,982 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds.
The federal funds will be used for two research and promotion projects to enhance the competitiveness of Louisiana-grown sweet potatoes and nursery crops.
The USDA awarded a total of 55 grants totaling about $49 million for 745 projects to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The USDA grant will be coordinated by the LDAF and the projects administered by the LSU AgCenter.
An independent review panel evaluated each proposal and offered its recommendations to the LDAF.
“These specialty block grants give industries an opportunity to do research and promotions,” Strain explained. “We chose two very deserving projects that would produce the highest degree of measurable benefits to Louisiana specialty crop producers.
“I believe through sound research and promotion, any Louisiana-grown specialty crop can compete with anything else that is in the marketplace,” Strain said.
The sweet potato industry in Louisiana contributed more than $47,308,000 to the state’s economy in 2008, while the nursery crop industry contributed more than $170,177,000, according to LSU’s Louisiana Summary.