The department intends to use the funds to award "mini-grants" that
expand markets for fresh produce grown in Illinois and is
encouraging specialty crop growers to submit a proposal before the
April 30 application deadline. More than $640,000 is available.
thank USDA for recognizing the importance of expanding access to
nutritious, locally grown foods and providing this funding
increase," Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. "The grants will
raise awareness about the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables
that are available here and help consumers make food choices that
improve not only their health, but also the health of their local
Proposed projects should accomplish
one or more of the following industry objectives:
Increase child and
adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
participation at meetings of international standard-setting
bodies in which the U.S. government participates.
and reduce costs of distribution systems.
entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing
"good agricultural practices," "good handling practices," "good
manufacturing practices" and in cost-share arrangements for
funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and
specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on
conservation and environmental outcomes.
Develop new and
improved seed varieties and specialty crops.
Improve pest and
Promote organic and sustainable
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Projects that improve food access in underserved communities or
expand local agricultural economies also are eligible for
assistance. So, too, are advertising-related expenses to publicize
farmers markets, as long as program requirements are met.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept grant
applications until 4 p.m. on April 30. Funds will be awarded early
next year. Application forms and instructions can be obtained from
the department's Web site,
www.agr.state.il.us, or by calling 217-524-9129. (Grant
The number of farmers markets in Illinois has nearly tripled,
increasing from 97 in 1999 to nearly 300 today. Nationally, Illinois
ranks first for its pumpkin production and in the top 10 in the
production of many other specialty crops, such as asparagus,
cauliflower, peas and lima beans.
Department of Agriculture
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]