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New USDA funding elevates U.S. specialty crop industry

By Farms.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken a significant leap forward in supporting the specialty crops sector. USDA announces a total investment of $137.9 million, marking a new era for U.S. agriculture. 

Central to this initiative is the Assisting Specialty Crop Exports (ASCE) program. With a $65 million investment, ASCE is designed to help U.S. specialty crops like fruits and vegetables conquer global markets. The program will tackle unique export challenges, from navigating foreign regulatory landscapes to meeting diverse packaging and safety standards. 

In parallel, the USDA has allocated $72.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). This program will finance innovative projects aimed at bolstering the specialty crops' competitive edge, covering aspects from marketing and education to research. 

Integral to these efforts is the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Initiative (SCCI), which seeks to optimize USDA's resources for the maximum benefit of the specialty crop sector. This includes addressing cost management, pest and disease control, supply chain enhancement, and climate-friendly agricultural practices. 

The funding also taps into the newly established Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP), focusing on market development and food security. This will address key challenges identified by specialty crop producers and exporters, such as commodity-specific trade capacity, packaging solutions, and a database for maximum residue limits. 

These initiatives represent a strategic push to not only maintain but also expand the global presence of U.S. specialty crops.  

By addressing market access barriers and fostering innovation, the USDA is setting the stage for sustainable growth and increased competitiveness in the agricultural sector. This move underscores the Administration's commitment to supporting rural communities and ensuring a more inclusive and beneficial food system.


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