Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced the Texas Department of Agriculture has secured and awarded more than $1.8 million in federal funding to farmers for promoting and developing Texas-grown specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops.
The grants, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, are an investment in Texas agriculture and will help grow the industry.
"Specialty crops play a vital role in the diversity of our agricultural economy," Commissioner Staples said. "The Texas Department of Agriculture is using these federal grants to fund projects that will give consumers increased access to locally-grown Texas crops. These grants will help producers improve products while increasing competitiveness."
With these federal funds, TDA is funding 17 projects covering several key areas, including: improved food safety; increased development of the specialty crops industry; increased marketing and promotion of Texas-grown produce; increased promotion and consumer awareness of the nutritional benefits of produce consumption; and increased protection of Texas specialty crops from plant pests and diseases.
The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorized USDA to provide this state assistance for specialty crops to enhance competitiveness through research, marketing, trade, safety, education, product development and more.
Specialty crops comprise a significant portion of the Texas agricultural economy, with Texas ranking among the national leaders in production of many specialty crops such as citrus, onions, watermelons, pecans, grapes and others.
For more information about the Specialty Crop Block Grants or to view a complete listing of the projects, visit the TDA website.