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    United States Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, included a specialty crops title in the most recent Farm Bill which has come to benefit Michigan. According to a press release from Senator Stabenow, the 2008 Farm Bill also known as the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 was the first bill in history to recognize the importance of specialty crops which are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products, and floriculture. As of September 17, 2010, 54 grants have been announced totaling approximately $55 million which will fund 827 projects.

     

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    The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) was recently awarded over $1.4 million from the federal government to help expand, create, and improve the state's agricultural development. The Department of Agriculture has selected 21 projects statewide to receive a portion of the $1.4 million in federally funded grants. Don Koivisto, the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture has worked hard to ensure that Michigan's agriculture economy remains strong. Referring to the grants, Kiovisto said, "Our agri-food sector continues to be an economic bright spot and these grants will fuel that effort and will be instrumental in developing or expanding specialty crop production activities in Michigan". The grants will be used to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan specialty crops (Michigan Department of Agriculture).

    According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the number applicants that applied for the competitive grants were overwhelming. The MDA received 62 proposals totaling $3.1 million with 21 proposals recommended to receive $1.2 million in grant funding. Grant applications were evaluated by a Joint Evaluation Committee composed of MDA and industry representatives not directly involved in any grant proposals (Michigan Department of Agriculture). The program will be administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

     

    The Michigan Department of Agriculture listed the following projects selected to receive federal funding:

    Lakeshore Environmental Inc.: Wastewater Freeze Crystallization Feasibility Study - $46,200

    The Starting Block: Entrepreneurial Education up the Specialty Food Value Chain Beyond the Farm Gate - $75,000

    Michigan State University: Innovative Fruit Plantings: Keeping MI Fruit Producers Competitive - $75,000

    The Smeltzer Companies: Study to Determine the Feasibility of Passive Soil Aeration for Treatment of Wastewater - $75,000

    Michigan Potato Industry Commission: Modern Soil Fumigation Research & Education for Michigan Potato Production - $49,000

    Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association: Good Agricultural Practices Proposal - $20,000

    Michigan Blueberry Growers Marketing: Training in Best Practices in Labor Management & Social Compliance for Growers - $17,500

    Michigan Food & Farming Systems: Food Safety Education for Michigan's Specialty Crop Producers - $50,412

    National Grape Cooperative: Implementation of the Michigan Grape Grower Assessment workbook to enhance the competitiveness of the Michigan Grape Industries - $18,000

    Michigan Asparagus Industry Development Program: Enhancing the Competitiveness of Michigan's Fresh and Processed Asparagus Industries - $18,610

    Michigan Apple Committee: Building Markets Close to Home: Michigan Apples in Chicago - $75,000

    Michigan State University: Optimizing Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation and Living-Mulches for Enhanced Profitability in Michigan Asparagus- $67,193

    Michigan Festivals and Events Association: Michigan Wine Trails Billboard Promotion - $70,950

    Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association: Addressing Foremost Weed Control Issues for the Michigan Nursery & Landscape Industries - $75,000

    Michigan Brewers Guild Inc.: High Hopes and Sustainability for Michigan Specialty Crop Hops - $74,000

    Michigan State University: Development of Poplar Plantations for Food Processing Wastewaters - $75,000

    Michigan Floriculture Growers Council: Managing Energy Resources - $43,288

    Michigan Bean Commission: Assessment of Narrow Row Technology for the Michigan Dry Bean Industry - $75,000

    Michigan State University: Early Detection-Rapid Response Program for Spotted Wing Drosophila - $19,826

    Fair Food Network: Expanding Local Market Opportunities for Southeast Michigan Specialty Crop Producers - $73,929

    Cherry Marketing Institute: Cherry Conversations Powered by Digital Storytellers - $75,000

     

    Sources:

    USDA Agriculture Marketing Service

    http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateU&navID=LatestReleases&page=Newsroom&topNav=Newsroom&leftNav=&rightNav1=LatestReleases&rightNav2=&resultType=Details&dDocName=STELPRDC5086651&dID=137993&wf=false&description=USDA+Announces+Funds+to+Enhance+the+Competitiveness+of+Specialty+Crops

    Senator Debbie Stabenow Press Release

    http://stabenow.senate.gov/press/2010/093010StabenowEasternMarketLocalFarmersReapBenefitsofNewFarmBillTitle.htm

    Michigan Department of Agriculture

    http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1572_28248-243980--,00.html

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