U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, announced $1,992,250 million to support Michigan specialty crop growers who produce fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery plants, and flowers. These funds come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and will support 20 projects throughout the state.
“Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables are not only a source of great pride – they are also critical to our state’s economy,” said Senator Stabenow. “This new support will help Michigan farmers get their products off the farm and onto our plates during these difficult times.”
Each of the 20 projects are targeted to help specialty crop growers sell more products locally and globally, protect crops from pests and diseases, and market products to be competitive.
In 2008, Senator Stabenow authored the first ever fruits and vegetables section of a Farm Bill to provide support for so-called "specialty crops" which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products and floriculture. These crops are critical to the state's economy, as Michigan leads the nation in producing a wider variety of crops than any state other than California.
“The Michigan Blueberry Commission is excited to once again be able to advance our research platform through the specialty crop block grant program. This program has paved the way at making our grower dollars go twice the distance, in better positioning our state’s growers to compete in an ever-increasing global market. Anthracnose Fruit Rot in blueberries is a problem that our growers rated as a top priority problem. Through USDA’s SCBG program, we’re able to bring about solid solutions through industry driven research,” said Kevin Robson, Michigan Blueberry Commission.
“The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council (MGGC) would like to thank Senator Stabenow for her continued support of Michigan’s agriculture industry and the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program. In collaboration with Michigan State University researchers Drs. Roberto Lopez and Mary Hausbeck, SCBG funds will be used to develop and extend novel strategies to control grey mold (Botrytis blight), a plant disease that is increasingly resistant to fungicides. This research will help our growers reduce fungicide use and plant losses and increase their profitability,” Goeff Hansen, Executive Director of the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council.
“Downy Mildew harms some of the most valued vegetable crops in Michigan, like pickling cucumbers and squash. Downy Mildew has developed resistance to key fungicides and finding new strategies to deal with the disease will be the focus of this Specialty Crop Block Grant,” said Greg Bird, Executive Director of the Michigan Vegetable Council.
Prior to 2008, farm bills focused largely on traditional commodity crops and had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. The 2018 Farm Bill continues to strengthen support for specialty crops and makes major investments in organic crops and local and regional food systems.
Grant recipients include:
- Cherry Marketing Institute – Driving Demand for U.S. Grown Tart Cherries with Influential Food and Beverage Manufacturers, $125,000
- Hop Growers of Michigan – Integrated Approaches to Managing Cone Diseases in Michigan Hopyards, $73,258
- Michigan Apple Committee – Target Audience Engagement to Increase Sales of Michigan Apples, $125,000
- Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board – Sales & Marketing Tools to Advance the Michigan Asparagus Industry, $125,000
- Michigan Bean Commission – Multifaceted Strategies to Communicate the Value of Michigan Dry Beans, $107,200
- Michigan Bean Commission – Optimization of Fertilizer Rate Recommendations for Michigan Dry Bean Growers, $99,998
- Michigan Blueberry Commission – Evaluating Effective Management Strategies to Control Anthracnose Fruit Rot in Michigan Blueberries, $70,258
- Michigan Celery Research Inc. – Michigan Celery Growers Seek Answers to Plant “Meltdown” which Threatens the Industry’s Future, $70,046
- Michigan Christmas Tree Association – Development of Integrated Weed Control Program for Michigan Christmas Tree Production, $72,744
- Michigan Grape Society – Cold Hardiness Monitoring for Grapevines in Southwest Michigan, $40,000
- Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council – Greenhouse Growers Seek Innovative Solutions to Control Botrytis Blight, $70,000
- Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association – Debating Glyphosate, Understanding the Prominence of Herbicide Resistance and Residuals in Nurseries, $100,000
- Michigan Potato Industry Commission – Identification of Potato Varieties with Postharvest Disease Resistance, $85,625
- Michigan State Horticultural Society – Managing Downy Mildew in Michigan Vineyards: Investigating Alternative Products, Fungicide Efficacy, and Resistance Levels, $99,500
- Michigan Vegetable Council – Strategies are Needed to Protect Michigan’s Cucurbits from Fungicide Resistant Downy Mildew, $91,577
- National Grape Cooperative – Addressing Priority Issues in Berry Moth Management for Michigan Vineyards, $99,637
- Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office – Publication of Instructional Manual for Operating a Five-Acre Institutional Horticulture Farm Using an Incarcerated Labor Force, $125,000
- Southwest Michigan Wine Trail – A Comprehensive Marketing Project to Improve Competitiveness of Lake Michigan Shore Wines, $88,252
- MDARD International Marketing Program – International and Domestic Promotion of Michigan Specialty Crops, $161,626.85
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