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State receives $3.1M in federal funding for specialty crops

North Dakota will receive $3.1 million in federal funding for specialty crops through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a part of the 2014 farm bill.

The program supports states’ efforts to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and tree nuts. North Dakota has a strong specialty crop industry and often leads the U.S. in dry beans, dry peas, lentils, confection sunflowers and honey production.

“These funds will help North Dakota growers diversify and strengthen their production of crops, while also improving the ways we bring these crops to market,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., stated in a release. “That means lower costs for both producers and our consumers, as well as better nutrition and greater choice for our families.”

Through the grant program, state departments of agriculture can support farmers who grow specialty crops through research and projects that develop new varieties, improve efficiency and sustainability of crop production, and establish local and regional fresh food systems, among other things, according to a release from Hoeven, who is on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

“North Dakota’s agriculture industry creates jobs, supports families and economies throughout the state, and feeds our kids and families across the country,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., stated in a release.