State seeks proposals for research

ALBANY — The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is seeking proposals for research and grower education projects that aim to enhance the competitiveness of state’s specialty crop producers and increase the long-term success of the state’s agricultural industry, according to a news release.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball has announced up to $600,000 is available to help strengthen the state’s specialty crop industry.

Applicants must submit their proposals by Sunday, Feb. 18. The application is available at www.nyfvi.org/default.aspx?PageID=2489. For more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, visit www.agriculture.ny.gove/AP/slide/SpecialtyCrop.html.

New York State’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery products. The Specialty Crop Block Grant program will provide eligible not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions and local governments up to $100,000 for projects that address or enhance specific opportunities, needs or challenges affecting specialty crop production in the state.

Projects may focus on boosting efficiencies, reducing costs, managing pests, or fostering innovation to strengthen the viability and competitiveness of specialty crop producers throughout the state.  

The following priority areas have been identified within the request for proposals: 

∫ Research and/or education addressing a key conventional or organic production problem or need specific to the state.

∫ Developing and increasing the use of integrated pest management strategies and programs.

∫ Prioritizing and addressing native and exotic pests and disease threats through development of pest-risk assessments.

∫ Supporting plant breeding for the development of specialty crops resistant to exotic and native pests.

∫ Applied research and development to extend the growing season of the state’s specialty crops through new technologies, improved management practices, or other innovative production strategies.

∫ Developing new seed varieties and specialty crops with optimal performance under the state’s conditions.

Grant funds will only be awarded to applicants whose projects have statewide significance to the specialty crop industry and do not benefit only a single organization, institution, individual or commercial product. 

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets is working partnership with the New York Farm Viability Institute. The funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program.  Since the USDA began the program in 2006, New York has awarded $11.1

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