CHARLESTON, W.Va. -Six West Virginia projects will share in $248,433.07 of federal funding under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) in 2020. These projects were chosen from the 19 West Virginia organizations, agencies and institutions who requested a total of $1,064,174.54 for this fiscal year. Recipients must use the federal funding to enhance the production, processing and consumption of specialty crops in West Virginia.
“The projects funded this year all focus on how to further develop West Virginia agricultural industries. Each one will evaluate specific niches within the market to help our farmers tap into potential new markets. We are excited to see the impact these projects will have,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
The SCBG program funded the following six:
- West Virginia University (WVU) Research Corporation (Berkeley and Hardy Counties)- $16,605.88:
- Evaluation of Asparagus as a U-Pick Commercial Crop for West Virginia”
- West Virginia University (WVU) Research Corporation (Hampshire County)-$25,000:
- “Improved Bitter Pit Management on Honey Crisp Apple in WV Orchards to Facilitate Better Marketing”
- West Virginia State University Extension Service (WVSUES) (Fayette, Hardy, Ohio & Wayne Counties) – $28,301:
- “Crowdsourcing to Enhance Adoption of Produce Safety Applications”
- West Virginia University (WVU) Research Corporation (Barbour, Cabell, Wayne, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Nicholas, Fayette, Brooke, Marshall, Preston, Summers, Roane, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Wetzel and Kanawha Counties)- $61,701:
- “WV Log Grown Shiitake Mushrooms: Enhancing Training and Producer Networks Across the State”
- Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) Marshall University (Statewide)- $42,298:
- “Enhancing Specialty Crop Competitiveness in WV Craft Beverage Production”
- West Virginia State University Research and Development Corporation (Statewide)- $74,527.19:
- “Improving Vintage Tomato Varieties with Pest Resistance to Enhance WV Grower Success and Profitability”
Grant recipients have three years to plan, implement and gather data on their respective projects. The USDA awarded $72.4 million to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works..