Goehring awards $615,000 in specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded 10 grants totaling more than $600,000 to promote the development and cultivation of specialty crops in North Dakota.

“These grants are designed to increase production and sales of North Dakota specialty crops such as fresh fruits, vegetables, confection sunflowers, beans, peas, lentils, wine grapes, potatoes and more,” Goehring said. “Since these crops are not protected under commodity titles, the grants provide much-needed funds for research and product and market development, enabling producers to reach wider markets in the U.S. and overseas.”

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

North Dakota's allocation was $615,836.96. Organizations and agencies receiving grants include:

  • Foundation for Rural Resource Management and Sustainability – $40,996.30 to reduce the barriers in using specialty crops for school lunch and other fresh fruit and vegetable programs by creating a Farm to School coordinator half-time position, documenting three or more working models in the state, and fulfilling requests of the National Farm to School program to publish information for other states to use.
  • National Sunflower Association – $76,100 to develop multiple rust-resistant confection sunflower hybrids.
  • North Dakota Department of Agriculture – $92,285.19 to increase the demand for specialty crops through the marketing and promotion of local foods through a multimedia campaign.
  • North Dakota Department of Agriculture – $20,000 to increase access to local fruit by conducting a community grant program to enable the establishment of local orchards throughout North Dakota.
  • Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society – $92,150 to increase the accessibility of vegetable varieties by evaluating promising vegetable varieties against varieties farmers are currently using through replicated variety trials at North Dakota State University, identifying breeding goals for cultivar improvement and development and providing variety trial data and project results to North Dakota farmers.
  • Northern Pulse Growers Association – $93,320 to increase the consumption of pulse crops by providing education to representatives from the food service industry and by developing new recipes that incorporate pulse crops.
  • North Dakota State University – $19,197 to develop cold-hardy grape varieties that will flourish in North Dakota.
  • North Dakota State University – $27,000 to determine prospective potato genotypes for increased production.
  • Williston Ag Diversification Group – $93,320 to enhance the competitiveness of specialty potato variety MonDak Gold by evaluating multi-state potato breeding lines for french fry processing for limited commercial production and test marketing.

NDDA received 23 applications totaling $1,298,830.80. The applications were reviewed and scored by a select committee and Commissioner Goehring 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; Judge Barth, Dakota Pride Cooperative, and Katie Heger, Heger Farms, Underwood.

NDDA administers the program with funds provided by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The funds were appropriated in the 2007 Farm Bill. NDDA received $61,498.95 to administer the specialty crop block grant program funding and ensure awardees abide by federal and state requirements and regulations.