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Oregon ag gets a boost from specialty crop block grants

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The Oregon Department of Agriculture has announced this year’s recipients of nearly one-and-a-half million dollars in federal funds designated for specialty crops. That money will fund 22 wide-ranging projects:

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For a state like Oregon, which grows more than 200 different crops on about 37-thousand farms, funding from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is important, says Katie Pearmine of the Oregon Department of Agriculture:

PEARMINE:  “This year we've got 22 projects that are working to develop new markets at home and abroad, train our next generation of farmers, address distribution bottlenecks that we are seeing, promote some of our key specialty crop industries, and strengthen our food safety.”  :16

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The grant program is part of the US Farm Bill and is designed to boost the competitiveness of the state’s fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops:

PEARMINE:  “Over the past five years during the last Farm Bill, Oregon received over $6 M in funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which allowed us to support 112 projects throughout the state. “  :12

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With a new Farm Bill still not adopted by Congress, officials in Oregon and other states are hoping the specialty crop grant program can continue. The 22 funded projects range from expanding berry grower food safety training to developing a truffle production industry in Oregon. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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PEARMINE says this year’s awards under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program geographically reaches across a broad swath of Oregon:

“So we have projects throughout the state– in eastern, central, and southern Oregon– and in rural and metro areas. So we’re reaching more markets than ever, including our export markets in Asia and the direct markets here in our local communities.”  :13

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PEARMINE says there are some definite trends in the types of projects in Oregon being funded with specialty crop grants:

“We’ve seen interest in Asian markets. So there is a lot of exporting going on, particularly with our berries but also with our hazelnuts and wine. In our Oregon front, we see a lot of work on beginning farmer work, so bringing the next generation of farmer along.”  :18

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