USDA announces specialty crop block grant program funding awarded to California

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  Agricultural Marketing Service awarded more than $23.9 million in Fiscal Year 2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding to California.

With this grant, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop products and create new market opportunities for the state’s specialty crop producers.

“With this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, California is investing in innovative projects that will help address the needs of specialty crop producers within the region,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The funded projects will also further USDA’s efforts to ensure U.S. specialty crop products remain competitive in markets across the nation and abroad.”

Through the SCBGP, the CDFA will fund 46 projects. Among CDFA’s projects, is an award to 18 Reasons that will focus on providing hands-on, cooking-based education to low-income families who are disproportionately affected by food insecurity and diet-related nutrition disparities. Funding is also being provided to the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles to provide sixth through twelfth grade students, adults, and caregivers with culturally relevant specialty crop education which showcases California’s seasonal variety and specialty crop growers targeting underserved communities and Title I schools. Additional funded projects focus in areas such as equity, climate change, food security and nutrition, and marketing.

“USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program provides opportunities for California’s specialty crop growers to enhance innovation across the food system,” said Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture. “From enhancing nutrition and education in schools, to expanding consumer markets and increasing research in critical areas of food safety. CDFA’s partnership with USDA on this program furthers the competitiveness of the specialty crop sector on the national level with a lens of equity and a commitment to climate resilience.”

The funding to California is part of a total of $72.9 million in non-competitive FY 2023 SCBGP funding awarded to 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia. The SCBGP funding supports farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. USDA’s support will strengthen U.S. specialty crop production and markets, ensuring an abundant, affordable supply of highly nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops, which are vital to the health and well-being of all Americans.

The funding for the SCBGP grants is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and FY2023 funding is awarded for a three-year period beginning Sept. 30, 2023. Since 2006, USDA has invested over $1 billion through the SCBGP to fund nearly 12,000 projects that have increased the long-term successes of producers and enhanced marketing opportunities for U.S. specialty crops products.

More information about these awards is available on this webpage: 2023 SCBGP Awarded Grants (pdf).