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2009-05-21 digital edition

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2009-05-21 / Community News

Texas Department of Agriculture To Award Grants To Promote Fruits, Vegetables And Other Specialty Crops

Agency seeking project proposals from industry, organizations

The Texas Department of Agriculture is requesting proposals for projects designed to enhance food safety and human health through the consumption and use of specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery plants. The projects will be funded through TDA-awarded grants made available through USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).

"Texas is a leading state in the production of fresh produce, nursery plants and other specialty crops," Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. "This grant program will help Texas producers enhance the quality, safety and production of their crops, ensuring Texas remains a leader in agriculture. Consumers will also benefit by gaining valuable knowledge from these projects that could help them incorporate more locally grown items into their lives."

TDA will accept proposals for grants from agencies, universities, institutions and industry or community based organizations that have a vested interest in specialty crops and have projects to enhance the competitiveness of Texas-grown products.

Proposed projects should pertain to one of the following areas:

• Food Safety - Projects that help implement "Good Agricultural Practices," "Good Handling Practices," "Good Manufacturing Practices" or identify new methods to improve food safety.

• Nutrition - Projects that focus on increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Industry Development - Proposals aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems or industry training.

• Marketing - These projects may be geared toward increasing the sales or consumption of specialty crops domestically and internationally through advertising campaigns, in-store demonstrations or promotional, educational and international literature.

• Plant Health - Specialty crop research projects, including organic research, that promote conservation and environmental benefits; development of new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; pest and disease control; sustainability; and production methods.

More information on the SCBGP can be found by visiting www.TexasAgriculture.gov and clicking Grants/Funding. The deadline for submitting proposals is June 22, 2009.

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