VSU Awarded Specialty Crop Grants

By Staff Reports, The Progress-Index

ETTRICK — Virginia State University has been awarded specialty crop grants, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, for two projects. The two projects that are being funded include facilitating coriander and fenugreek production in Virginia and increasing yield of Virginia-grown hops. The main focus of the university project is to increase the yield of Virginia-grown hops.

Fifteen agriculture-related projects throughout Virginia will receive over $503,000 in grants. The individual grants range from $12,000 to $45,000. The Speciality Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorizes the USDA to provide funds to states to promote speciality crops.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe says that the funding will also help promote Virginia’s speciality crops and create more economic development opportunities.

“Like any industry, agriculture depends on quality research and data to remain competitive in the 21st century economy,” McAuliffe said. “These grants represent more than a half-million dollar investment in Virginia’s economy that will boost economic development and create jobs in our agriculture sector, furthering our work to build a new Virginia economy. I congratulate these organizations and educational institutions for pursuing innovative research that will help enhance marketing opportunities and food safety for growers across the Commonwealth.”

Most of the recipients have projects that include finding new ways to market or add value to speciality agricultural projects and assisting farmers transitioning into speciality, high-value agricultural initiatives that address the eligible specialty crops.

Some of the speciality crops include apples, berries, herbs, hops and pears. Other places that received the speciality crop grants were a number of Virginia Tech University projects, Appalachian Sustainable Development project, Virginia Wineries Association Cooperative project and Old Dominion University Research Foundation.