The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has awarded $244,000 in grants to 11 organizations to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.
Iowa not-for-profit agricultural organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups were eligible to apply for the grants. Twenty-nine proposals for assistance were received by the department and 11 were selected by an independent review committee of nine industry stakeholders.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also invited public comment from to help identify priorities for the program and established a review committee to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on which grant proposals should receive funding.
The maximum grant award is $24,000 and administrative and indirect costs are not allowed. The money has to be used for for projects that benefit the specialty crops industry as a whole, rather than directly benefit a particular product.
The projects selected to receive funding are:
- Practical Farmers of Iowa - $24,000 to support improving employee management on fruit and vegetable farms
- Lutheran Services of Iowa - $24,000 to support increasing specialty crop production by refugee groups through land access and grower education
- Iowa Heartland RC&D - $23,983 for delivering specialty crops to corporations through Community Supported Agriculture
- Local Food Producers Market Association - $10,000 for a "Know Your Food Producer" consumer education campaign
- Iowa State University (Angela Shaw) - $23,939 for the statewide on-farm food safety program
- Iowa State University (Dining Services) - $13,645 to create awareness of the nutritional value and importance of specialty crops
- Southern Iowa RC&D - $23,928 to gather economic and social impact data in rural southwest Iowa to support specialty crop production
- Iowa State University (Lester Wilson) - $20,755 to determine the optimum harvest time for aronia berries to maximize their antioxidant and sensory properties
- Golden Hills RC&D - $24,000 to support creating, marketing and promoting the Iowa Loess Hill AVA Wine Trail
- Iowa State University (Winneshiek County) - $15,750 to create a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) cost share program for northeast Iowa fruit and vegetable producers
- Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship - $40,000 to spotlight Iowa's specialty crops as part of the Iowa Farm to School Program.