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MDA Awards Specialty Crop Block Grants

$1.2 million granted for research, education and market development

 

December 13, 2019



St. Paul, MN: The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has awarded more than $1.2 million in 2019 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) to 15 recipient organizations across Minnesota. The grant program aims to boost the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Minnesota through research, education, or market development projects, such as development of new plant varieties, marketing campaigns, and helping producers comply with food safety requirements.

“A more diverse agricultural sector is the key to returning farms to profitability as we strive to move past recent tough times for farming,” said MDA Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey. “The results of these grants will help inform future practices that may lead to greater success for Minnesota farmers.”

The MDA is planning to post the 2020 SCBG Request for Proposal on the SCBG website and start accepting applications in early January 2020. Applicants may request between $10,000 and $100,000 and projects may last up to two-and-a-half years. Application deadline will be in early March 2020. Questions may be directed to Ann Kuzj (Ann.Kuzj@state.mn.us) or the MDA Grants Line at 651-201-6500.

2019 Awarded Specialty Crop Block Grant Projects

Grantee Organization Name Principle Investigator/ Project Coordinator Federal Award Amount Project Summary

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Angie Ambourn

$81,065 As Minnesota’s brown marmorated stink bug populations continue to increase, this project seeks to expand monitoring within Minnesota apple orchards to identify emerging problem areas and lay the ground work for implementation of biological control.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Danielle Daugaard

$84,169.33 This campaign increases revenue for apple growers by developing the market for new early season apple varieties at retail orchards and grocery stores. It builds on a previous Specialty Crop Block Grant project.

Minnesota Grown Promotion Group, Inc. Danielle Daugaard $93,600 This project increases sales of Minnesota specialty crops through statewide marketing, including sponsored search advertising (pay-per-click), promoted social media posts, and promotion of specific specialty crops in the printed Minnesota Grown Directory.

Renewing the Countryside Jan Joannides $99,909 Having refined a model where farmers markets serve as aggregation hubs for sales of specialty crops to wholesale markets, this phase of the project garners community support to drive sales to a level that ensures long-term success of the model.

Sustainable Farming Association Theresa Keaveny

$73,500 SFA will increase profitability of farmers and beginning farmers by increasing premium garlic production, training farmers on best garlic growing/marketing practices, expanding markets and supply chains, and researching improved cultivation methods.

The Good Acre Andrew Bernhardt $98,050 The Good Acre will help growers improve record keeping, prepare for FSMA and partner with a group of higher ed and healthcare institutions to develop inventory-distribution systems to expand institutional sales for beginning and underserved farmers.

University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Dr. Kathryn Draeger $54,500 UMN Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships will work with Minnesota specialty crop farmers and rural grocery stores to increase Minnesota specialty crop farmer access to larger regional markets by opening new farm-to-rural-grocery market channels.

University of Minnesota Dr. Stan Hokanson $99,922 This project will determine the phytochemical differences between susceptible and resistant specialty crop cultivars and the correlation of metabolomic and genomic information to develop new control measures for Japanese beetle in specialty crops.

University of Minnesota Extension Dr. Annie Klodd $94,371 This project will contribute to the development of the young Minnesota cider apple industry by identifying apple cultivars that are well adapted and produce desirable cider traits, and by educating Minnesota orchardists and winemakers on the best practices for high quality cider products.

University of Minnesota Northwest Research & Outreach Center Dr. Ian MacRae $75,000 This University of Minnesota NWROC will develop tactics that will provide better risk estimates and management of Potato Virus Y, a disease limiting the yield and quality of seed potatoes and threatening the Minnesota commercial potato industry.

University of Minnesota West Central Research & Outreach Center Steve Poppe $97,031 The project goal is to expand day neutral strawberry production in Minnesota by evaluating a tabletop system that increases labor efficiency, reduces inputs, and allows for crop production on marginal land.

University of Minnesota Dr. Carl J. Rosen $99,953 This project will improve potato production sustainability in the Midwest through development of a new clone with improved tuber quality, long-term storage and reduced chemical use. The clone will be evaluated for commercial production potential.

University of Minnesota Dr. Gary Muehlbauer $46,197 The project will identify wild hop germplasm that confers field-level resistance to powdery mildew and enhanced agronomic potential. In addition, we will identify genetic markers associated with powdery mildew resistance for use in breeding.

University of Minnesota Dr. Lois Braun $21,519 This project will begin scaling-up of the Upper Midwest hazelnut industry by expanding micropropagation capacity for our 1st generation hybrid hazelnut selections to enable faster distribution of plants to growers.

University of Minnesota Dr. Mary Rogers $95,298 This project will investigate fertility optimization, cultivar selection, and biocompatibility of insecticides with biological control to develop integrated pest management practices for local hydroponic vegetable crop industries.

 

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