PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) announced this week that it was awarded $780,776 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in 2022, which will go towards funding 15 projects across the state.
While some of these projects are specific to certain areas of Kansas, other grants are for statewide programs. These include $72,076 for “Marketing Mastery Academy for Specialty Crop Growers,” in which “KDA will partner with a local marketing entity to facilitate a marketing training program for Kansas specialty crop growers that helps producers learn marketing practices and develop marketing plans to implement for their operations in order to increase the sale of specialty crops.”
For another statewide program, “Helping Kansas Farmers Fill Students’ Food Plates with Fruits and Vegetables,” a $51,172 grant will help pay for the Kansas Rural Center to “work with partners to create a comprehensive and accessible resource hub for all specialty crop stakeholders interested in Farm to School statewide.”
A $37,755 grant for the statewide program “Building Networking: Grower Connectivity Toward Meeting Evolving Market Opportunities” will help pay for the Kansas Specialty Crop Growers Association to develop an online networking platform for Kansas growers to augment efforts to address current food access, availability, and supply concerns.
Another program, “Enhancing Specialty Crop Farmer Competitiveness Statewide Through Online Education and Mentorship,” will receive a $54,194 grant to help pay for K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) to lead a collaborative group of specialty crop growers, educators, and not-for-profit farms through an established network surrounding the Growing Growers Kansas City Program by developing an online course to train beginning and socially disadvantaged specialty crop farmers, the KDA said.
In another statewide program, “Evaluating Electrostatic Spraying to Improve Food Contact Surface Disinfection and Produce Safety and Quality,” to be funded with a $66,705 grant, KSRE will evaluate the efficacy of electrostatic spraying technology for disinfection of food contact surfaces and for postharvest treatment of produce.
Through the program “Controlling the Growth of Foodborne Pathogens in Soil-Substitute Microgreen Production Systems,” a $56,679 grant will help pay for K-State to evaluate the use of titanium dioxide as a disinfection step to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens contamination during microgreen production.
The purpose of the SCBG Program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, according to the KDA. According to the USDA, specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” For more information, visit the KDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant page at the KDA website: agriculture.ks.gov/SpecialtyCropBlockGrant.