Friday, October 16, 2009

Illinois Awarded Specialty Crop Grants

From the Illinois Department of Agriculture
Thursday, October 15, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois has been awarded more than $435,000 through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture today announced 28 projects will receive a share of the funds, which are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the state’s specialty crop industry.

“Illinois’ fertile soil and favorable climate are good for growing a wide variety of crops,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. “The purpose of these grants is to encourage additional local food production by creating markets for fresh fruits and vegetables. This, in turn, will help ensure a viable industry for our specialty growers.”

While best known for growing corn and soybeans, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the nation and ranks among the top ten states in the production of other specialty crops such as asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans. The state devotes more than 117,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produces nearly $137 million in sales for Illinois farmers.

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