Illinois Receives Grant to Promote Specialty Crops

Oct 3, 2012

The USDA is providing more than $630,000 to help strengthen the specialty crop industry in Illinois.  The state also is the largest grower of pumpkins in the U.S. The grant will be used  to support America's specialty crops producers.

Illinois Specialty Crop Grant Awards 

  • Partner with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to enhance the microbial food safety of locally grown produce by assessing the microbial profiles on produce from farmers’ markets and subsequently suggest the best handling practices that would minimize the risk of microbial contamination
  • Partner with the Experimental Station to continue to educate low-income urban residents how to grow, prepare, and enjoy Illinois specialty crops by providing at-Market, in-school, after-school and summer educational programming.
  • Partner with Ag in Progress Partnership to facilitate an educational mentoring program for Future Farmers of America members that discusses the intricacies of honeybee biology and behavior as well as agricultural partnering techniques, enhancing the understanding and importance of our most efficient pollinator
  • Partner with the Illinois Horseradish Growers Association to ascertain new viable varieties that are the most white, have high heat and flavor, are larger in size, and that are not rotting, but lasting longer than current varieties for the Illinois horseradish industry

Read the full list here

According to the USDA, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for fiscal year 2012 supports initiatives that:

  • Increase nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption
  • Improve efficiency within the distribution system and reduce costs
  • Promote the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit fund cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors
  • Support research through standard and green initiatives
  • Enhance food safety
  • Develop new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops
  • Control pests and diseases
  • Create organic and sustainable production practices
  • Establish local and regional fresh food systems
  • Expand food access in underserved/food desert communities