Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Support for Michigan Fruit, Vegetable and Nursery Producers

Thursday, April 17, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced the availability of over $1.9 million to support fruit, vegetable, and nursery producers. The funding, which comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, is a direct result of the 2014 Farm Bill's significant investment in healthy, locally grown food. President Obama signed Sen. Stabenow's 2014 Farm Bill at Michigan State University in February.

Chairwoman Stabenow said: "The 2014 Farm Bill makes an unprecedented investment in fruits and vegetables and gives Michigan families better access to local and healthy food options, which will be a boost to our economy. Today's announcement provides Michigan growers with the tools they need to more effectively sell their products at local and regional farmers' markets, protect their crops from pests and disease, and develop better production practices."

In 2008, Senator Stabenow authored the first ever fruits and vegetables section of a Farm Bill to provide support for so-called "specialty crops" which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products and floriculture. These crops are critical to the state's economy as Michigan leads the nation in producing a wider diversity of crops than any state other than California. Prior to 2008, farm bills focused largely on traditional commodity crops but had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. The 2014 Farm Bill strengthens support for specialty crops and makes major investments in organic crops and local and regional food systems. For more information, click here.

Specialty crop block grants are allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula of specialty crop acreage and value. The deadline to submit applications to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for this funding was April 11.