(The Center Square) – Farm organizations in Washington have received $4.7 million in funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state.
The 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grants are administered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
“This award spans many projects with a unified mission: to enhance the viability and vitality of Washington agriculture and improve the competitiveness of specialty crops,” WSDA director Derek Sandison said in a statement Friday.
Twenty organizations received funding based on research proposals aimed at solving agricultural problems ranging from disrupting the reproductive cycle of grape mealybugs to managing blue fungus on apples and cleaning and disinfecting onions. Prizes ranged from $107,000 to $250,000 to a range of organizations, including state agencies, universities, industry associations, and nonprofits.
According to the grant guidelines, a special crop is a fruit or vegetable, dried nut fruit, horticulture or nursery crop that is grown for food, medicine or beautification. Grants may not be used to benefit a single commercial product, organization, institution or individual.
Grant recipients for 2022 included the Washington State Wine Commission, $205,200 to develop a vine leafroll control strategy; Washington State University, $249,980 to develop strategies to maximize potato production under drought conditions; Northwest Agriculture Business Center, $106,761 to increase awareness of Skagit Valley specialty crops through marketing; Living Well Kent, $169,754 to identify and develop specialized cultures used by immigrants and refugees; Washington Hop Commission, $239,698 for the study and management of Fusarium canker in hops; and Northwest Cider Association, $249,337 for increasing Washington cider sales through buyer, media and consumer education.
Over the past five years, specialty crops block grants totaling $29.3 million have been awarded to fund 115 projects. Previous successful projects include improving the production of red raspberries to make the berries more suitable for cooking and mitigating hop mold damage.