Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack $101 million in grants to support America’s specialty crops producers, who provide the fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutritious foods for millions of healthy American meals each day.
Nine Ohio projects were awarded grants totaling nearly $643,000.
Approximately $55 million will be invested in 56 specialty crop block grants to states that fund 748 initiatives across the country to strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers. An additional $46 million will go to support new and continuing research and extension activities to address challenges and opportunities for growers and businesses that rely on a sustainable, profitable specialty crops industry.
Ohio’s projects include:
- Partner with Ohio State University to quantify suppressive characteristics towards E. coli O157 and other foodborne pathogens found in various soils used to produce small fruits and vegetables and to determine empirically the effect of different soil characteristics on the survivability of these pathogens
- Partner with Ohio State University to develop an interactive “best management practices” guide for tomato transplantproduction, develop processing tomato varieties resistant to bacterial diseases, and improve tomato transplant productionprocesses to reduce or eliminate bacterial pathogen populations on plants before they reach the field
- Partner with the Ohio Produce Grower and Marketers Association (OPGMA) to provide specialty crop growers, handlers, and other industry professionals with instruction (at no charge) that could preclude food safety lapses by increasing the number of food safety sessions at the annual OPGMA Congress
- Partner with the Ohio Grocers Foundation to enhance the competitiveness of Ohio’s specialty crops through the implementation of a marketing campaign that utilizes advertisements, in-store signage, and in-store product tastings
- Partner with the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy to increase specialty crop production and profitability by building relationships with growers and distributors in two Ohio regions to increase the volume of local specialty crops being distributed through the community-based food systems and offering educational and technical assistance to specialty crop growers
- Partner with Ohio State University to conduct applied research through the inclusion of new bramble cultivar trials, season extension methods using high tunnels and Rotatable-Cross-Arm trellis system, distance and onsite problem diagnostics, grower visits and workshops, and demonstration of berry marketing tools
- Partner with Ohio State University to conduct research to develop specific hops production protocols for Ohio growers; measure consumer, grower and marketer knowledge of hops; survey Ohio beer manufacturers regarding their specific demands and requirements for hops; and enhance marketing tools, materials, and training programs for hops growers
- Partner with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association to maximize preemergence herbicide efficacy by evaluating specific herbicide/weed interactions in two major nursery and Christmas tree growing regions of Ohio and plant tolerance; identify preemergence herbicides safe for a broad range of cultivars of Viburnum sp., Hydrangea sp. and Buxus sp.; and identify specific weed control approaches for highly specific weed issues in Ohio
- Perform pre-award and post-award activities in order to administrate the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations