Costa Announces $18.2 Million to Support California Specialty Crops

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Jim Costa announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded California more than $18.2 million to improve competitiveness and strengthen the market for specialty crops. The funds were provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which Costa fought hard to expand in the 2008 Farm Bill and was a key advocate for the additional investment of $375 million provided in the 2013 House version of the Farm Bill that is pending a conference committee with the Senate. The current Farm Bill extension and authorization for many of the nation’s agricultural policies will lapse without action before October 1st.

“This and other Farm Bill programs help our Valley farmers produce the healthy, safe fruits and vegetables that families nationwide depend on,” said Costa. “Instead of reauthorizing the Farm Bill before October 1st, Republican Leadership has turned its back on our Valley farmers, farm workers, and economy.  Traditionally, the Farm Bill has been bipartisan because these programs work for Rural America, but this lifeline will lapse if we cannot put politics aside to finish the job quickly.”

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will fund 65 programs throughout California. Funded projects include improving efficiency and reduce cost of production and distribution; controlling pests and disease; expanding access to healthy foods for low-income individuals and children; increasing use of sustainable agricultural practices; and implementing food safety protocols. Examples of projects funded in California below:

  • Partner with Fresno’s Center for International Trade Development to increase the level of export knowledge of the California specialty crop industry by modernizing curriculum with agricultural industry cooperators, and producing a new specialty crop oriented “A Business of Details” export training video and workbook to be distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California agricultural cooperators, and specialty commodity groups.
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  • Partner with the University of California, Davis Center for Produce Safety (CPS) to increase the number of food safety professionals and growers utilizing the risk-based sample collection protocol to minimize of crop contamination by foodborne bacteria.
  • Partner with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to support California specialty crop growers by creating a California Farm to School Network that foster efficient regional distribution efforts between growers, distributors and school districts.
  • Partner with the American Pistachio Growers in collaboration with the California Dried Plum Board to enhance the market for pistachios and prunes in Japan and South Korea.