Kansas Department of Agriculture News Releases

2021 Specialty Crop Block Grants Awarded

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has been awarded $338,128 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Funds for the program are presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. According to USDA, specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” KDA has selected other recipients to further utilize the funds.

The following is a list of Kansas projects that will be funded by the grant:

  • Specialty crop expansion and viability enhancement project: $27,005 (Johnson County) — Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Inc., through the New Roots Specialty Crop Expansion and Viability Enhancement Project, will increase specialty crop sales for 68 beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, introduce 60 new specialty crops to consumers including exotic offerings from Asia and Africa, increase access and awareness by reaching 27 wholesale buyers, and double the number of access points in the group’s “Dedicated Markets” initiative which brings smaller farmers’ markets to dedicated sites.

  • Increasing resiliency and competitiveness of beginning specialty crop farmers in south central Kansas: $69,186 (Sedgwick County) — The Extension Education Foundation will build upon previous successes of the Growing Growers program and create a Growing Growers Learning Network which will provide quality learning experiences for new, beginning and socially disadvantaged producers related to recommended business practices, best food safety practices, and developing quality sustainable business.

  • Expanding food safety training, certification and record keeping software for specialty crop producers and aggregation centers: $44,960 (McPherson County) — The Kansas Farmers Union will establish an agreement with Advancing Rural Prosperity, Inc., a Kansas team of local food system specialists, and Fresh Systems, LLC dba 4-Corners GroupGAP to expand a multi-state USDA GroupGAP into western Kansas. This will provide the High Plains Food Cooperative’s aggregation center and area small to medium sized producers a tiered FSMA training, USDA GAP certification, and introduction to the HeavyConnect software platform that electronically captures and manages farm food safety records.

  • Identifying Best Management Practices for upright dry bean production in northwest Kansas: $46,551 (Northwest) — Research by Kansas State University will establish best management practices for upright dry edible beans. In addition, this project will evaluate several other management questions developed from producer interviews. Extension activities will communicate findings to current and potential future dry bean growers.

  • Safety for produce growers: Worker Protection Standard training certification and GAPs certification funding and outreach: $56,094 (Statewide) — K-State Research and Extension will assist at least 10 Kansas specialty crop producers to receive training and certification as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Worker Protection Standard pesticide safety train-the-trainer so that they can train the workers on their farm. In addition, KSRE will assist seven Kansas fruit and vegetable producers to earn Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification during the project, which will help growers access new markets which require that certification. This will help improve worker safety, produce safety and profitability of Kansas specialty crop producers.

  • Improving safety, nutritional quality and consumer acceptability of lettuce growing with movable high tunnels in Kansas: $74,495 (Statewide) — K-State Research and Extension will evaluate productivity, safety and quality of lettuce grown using a movable high tunnel production system in Kansas. Specifically, replicated field trials at K-State’s Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center will investigate the effect of different exposure times to open field conditions (full-spectrum natural light) prior to harvest on lettuce yield, microbial safety and nutritional quality, grown in a movable high tunnel. The open field exposure effect will be evaluated in terms of total and marketable yield and physical, microbial and nutritional characteristics.

For more information, visit KDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant webpage at agriculture.ks.gov/SpecialtyCropBlockGrant.