Specialty crop grants to expand fresh produce in IL - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Specialty crop grants to expand fresh produce in IL

(KFVS/AP) -

Funds will expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will receive more than $600,000 through the latest federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The funds, part of the 2014 Farm Bill, will be split between 16 projects that are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce.

Three programs in southern Illinois will receive grants:

  • Partner with Southern Illinois University to study specialty crops cooling strategies in order to determine the best technologies to harness in order to increase the shelf-life of perishable specialty crops, with a goal of increasing shelf-life of 7 days, and disseminate this information to farmers so that they may increase profits by decreasing crop wastage ($20,826).
  • Partner with SIU to support the expansion of organic strawberry production, which receive a premium on the market and thus have the potential to boost incomes, by studying and disseminating more effective crop management strategies, including more effective irrigation and disease mitigation techniques. ($62,996).
  • Partner with SIU to examine how to produce organic tomatoes with lower amounts of nitrogen and greater water efficiency, and potentially increase production, decrease costs, and decrease nitrogen pollution, and disseminate this information out to Illinois tomato growers through workshops and training materials ($17,171).

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