Funds for the program come from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture through the farm bill and are intended to strengthen
the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry. The
department has not been notified of the exact amount of its
award but anticipates receiving about $600,000.
"Expanding access to nutritious, homegrown Illinois food is
one of my top priorities," said Agriculture Director Bob Flider
said. "If we could increase local food purchases to just 10
percent of our grocery bill, it would generate more than $20
billion in new economic activity every year, create thousands of
jobs in the farming and food industries, and revitalize both
rural and urban communities."
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service defines specialty
crops as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and
horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture)."
According to a 2010 Illinois Specialty Crop Survey, more than
101,000 acres of Illinois farmland are devoted to growing
specialty crops, producing nearly $392 million in annual sales
for Illinois farmers. Nationally, Illinois ranks first for its
pumpkin production and in the top 10 in the production of
several other specialty crops: asparagus, cauliflower, peas and
Proposed specialty crop projects
should accomplish one or more of the following objectives:
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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 processors.
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
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept grant
proposals until 4 p.m. April 15.
Proposal packets are available online at
www.agr.state.il.us/Grants/specialtycrops.html or by contacting
Delayne Reeves. She can be reached by phone at 217-524-9129 or by
email at email@example.com.
Department of Agriculture
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]