Listening sessions slated on specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has scheduled two listening sessions to gather public comment on priorities for the 2012 USDA Specialty Crop Grant Program and to provide information about the program's application process.

“The purpose of the specialty crop block grants is to give fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop producers a competitive edge in today's marketplace,” Goehring said. “We want to hear from those producers and consumers on how we can best allocate these funds and to tell them how they can apply for a specialty crop grant.”

The listening sessions are scheduled for:

  • Friday, Feb. 3; from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m., Holiday Inn, Fargo, during the Local Foods annual conference.
  • Friday, Feb. 10, from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Sakakawea Room of the State Capitol in Bismarck.

Goehring said grant projects may include education on the nutritional qualities of specialty crops, assistance in the development of good agricultural practices, specialty crop research, development of new seed varieties, and pest and disease control. Multi-state projects will also be considered.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture will accept grant applications through April 20, 2012.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants. Specialty crops grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, grapes, confectionary sunflower, honey, nursery plants and various vegetables. A list of eligible and ineligible commodities can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgp.

North Dakota received slightly more than $600,000 in federal funds for the 2012 program.

Questions about the grant program or the application process can be directed to Emily Edlund at 701-328-2191 or edlund@nd.gov.