11 September 2023- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that Pennsylvania was awarded more than $1 million in federal funds for 11 projects aimed at increasing the visibility, quality, and competitive standing of the state’s horticultural specialty crops, including fruit, vegetables, nursery plants, flowers, honey, and nuts. The grants are among 587 funded projects totaling $72.9 million awarded nationwide through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which is administered by the state.
“Pennsylvania specialty crops are second to none for providing vital nutrition our families need,” Secretary Redding said. “These grants help Pennsylvania growers stay at the top of their field, in-demand by consumers, and at the cutting edge of technology to stay ahead of disease, pest, and climate threats. The Shapiro Administration is working in partnership with the Biden Administration to keep Pennsylvania farms feeding the world.”
Among other support for agriculture, the 2023-24 budget invests $13.8 million in a fifth year of the PA Farm Bill, which includes the state’s own Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant program to enhance the federal program. The PA Farm Bill also makes critical investments in building the workforce, processing infrastructure, and marketing opportunities the industry needs, and in removing barriers standing between the industry and those who want to be part of its future.
Specialty Crop Block Grants announced today fund projects focused on marketing, research, grower education, and sustainability for mushrooms, apples, floriculture, pumpkins, and other crops Pennsylvania ranks among top producers of in the nation.
Grantees, amounts, and project descriptions are as follows:
Rodale Institute, Berks County — $127,208
Identifying effective alternatives to chemical herbicides in organic apple orchards
Penn State University, Centre County — $74,519
Development and testing of plasma agriculture technology to increase food safety and improve vegetable quality and yield
Penn State University, Centre County — $63,447
Validating effectiveness of a new biopesticide for treating fire blight in apple trees
Penn State University, Centre County — $98,756
Monitoring viral threats to tree fruit nurseries
Penn State University, Centre County — $97,761
Developing precision agriculture technology to improve quality, yield, and energy-efficiency in indoor urban growing systems. Includes grower education.
Penn State University, Centre County — $70,750
Developing techniques to control flies on mushrooms using their natural enemies. Includes grower education.
American Mushroom Institute, Chester County — $84,915
Educating farmers on assessing pricing and input costs to better project costs and improve sustainability
Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program, Dauphin County — $89,635
PA Veggies marketing program to promote PA-grown specialty crops in season and drive consumer demand
Planet Bee Foundation, Philadelphia County — $63,467
Apiculture Training Program: Sustainable Honey Path, an apprenticeship for prospective beekeepers
Strategic Contracting, Inc., Philadelphia County — $70,780
Showcasing PA specialty crop farmers and food suppliers on the PA Preferred® Culinary Connection stage during the PA Farm Show, Pennsylvania’s State Fair®
More information about Pennsylvania’s investments in growing a strong future for the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry can be found at agriculture.pa.gov.