The agency has been notified that Illinois will receive a share of
the funds and is instructed to begin the proposal selection process.
The exact amount of its award, however, has not been determined.
"Expanding access to nutritious, homegrown Illinois food is one
of the department's top priorities," said Agriculture Director Bob
Flider. "If we could increase local food purchases to just 10
percent of our grocery bill, it would generate more than 20 billion
dollars in new economic activity every year, create thousands of
jobs in the farming and food industries, and revitalize both rural
and urban communities."
The funds will come from the Specialty Crop Block Grant program
in the new farm bill. Most recently, Illinois has been receiving
about $600,000 a year and using the funds to open new markets for
fresh, Illinois-grown produce.
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service defines specialty crops
as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture
and nursery crops (including floriculture)."
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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
specialty crops such as asparagus, cauliflower, peas and lima
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will accept grant
proposals until May 1 at 4 p.m. "Request for Proposal" packets and
additional information about the program, including a list of
past grant recipients and their projects, is available by clicking
the specialty crops logo on the homepage of the department's website
at www.agr.state.il.us or
by contacting Delayne Reeves at 217-524-9129 or
[Text from file received from
Illinois Department of