USDA awards funding to 10 Virginia agriculture projects
Ten agriculture-related projects in Virginia have been awarded a total of $541,467 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant fund.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced the federal grant funding in a press release Thursday. Funded projects include a Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) project to optimize pumpkin production by improved crop disease identification and management. The Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC in Winichester received funding to study how to maximize the efficiency of plant growth regulator spray on apple crops. Other funded research projects include studies of how to protect boxwood plants from boxwood blight and tracking the establishment of the release of an Asian wasp that kills the eggs of brown marmorated stinkbugs, a crop pest.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, and to ensure this sector stays at the forefront of our economy, we must continue to support research and technological advancements that enhance the competitiveness of our specialty crops,” Northam said Thursday. “These grants fund important projects that will help improve food safety for growers, boost agricultural development and create new market opportunities, especially in our rural areas.”
“Governor Northam’s administration is committed to rural economic development, specifically protecting, enhancing, and diversifying our range of agriculture products,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “These projects propose to give our farmers new options for crops, crop protection, varieties, farming methods and more, continuing to support Virginia’s No. 1 private sector industry.”