Goehring awards $435,000 in specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded six grants totaling $435,384 to promote the development and cultivation of specialty crops in North Dakota.

“These grants help expand production and sales of specialty crops, such as vegetables and fruits,” Goehring said. “Specialty crops are increasingly important in North Dakota as more consumers turn to local food sources, and farmers seek to diversify their production.”

Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.”

Organizations and agencies receiving grants include:

  • National Sunflower Association – $77,500 to develop a confection sunflower variety resistant to downy mildew and rust.
  • North Dakota Department of Agriculture – $79,673 to increase the demand for specialty crops through the marketing and promotion of local foods.
  • North Dakota State University – $35,530 to select, evaluate and propagate ornamental woody plants for the Northern Great Plains. 
  • North Dakota State University – $91,580 to generate advanced pinto bean breeding lines resistant to emergent strains of pathogens causing anthracnose, common bacterial blight, and bean rust diseases. 
  • Dakota Prairies Resource Conservation & Development- $73,529 to provide educational gardening activities to residents of Sioux County and Standing Rock Indian Reservation through the Helping Hands Community Garden.
  • Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society – $77,572.98 to increase accessibility of varieties suited to North Dakota's organic and low-input vegetable production systems.

NDDA received 19 applications, which were reviewed and scored by Goehring and a select committee and then forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for final approval.

Committee members included John Schneider, Agricultural Products Utilization Council; Jackie Buckley, Morton County Extension Service; Leah Brakke, Black Gold Potatoes; Josh Kramer, USDA Rural Development, and Katie Heger, Heger Farms, Underwood.

NDDA received $47,486 to administer the specialty crop block grant program which is funded by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service.