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News Release – California State Board of Food and Agriculture to Discuss Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at October 2 Meeting

 The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will discuss the department’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at its upcoming meeting on October 2, 2012. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street – Main Auditorium, Sacramento, CA 95814.

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program helps to support food safety research, marketing and innovation for a large percentage of California grown products,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “But unless congressional action is taken to pass a Farm Bill, this and other federal farm programs will be eliminated. This includes programs that support our dairy farmers, pest and disease prevention, and nutritional assistance to low-income individuals. In not passing a Farm Bill, Congress is negatively impacting job growth, reducing resources to local communities, and prolonging much needed disaster assistance.”

In 2011 California received approximately $17 million to support more than 70 grants programs focusing on: agriculture education/outreach; environmental concerns and conservation; marketing enhancement/international trade; food security/healthy eating; plant health/pest challenges; and food safety. An additional $17 million in federal funding is anticipated to be awarded this year.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops nationwide. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops. California is the largest recipient of specialty crop funds.

Scheduled speakers include: Kari Hamerschlag, Environmental Working Group; Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, Center for Produce Safety; Stephen Patricio, Westside Produce; Gail Feenstra, University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program; Jane Machado Dyk, Ag Venture; Larry Godfrey, University of California, Davis; Rhonda Motil, Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association; Dr. Linda Harris, University of California, Davis; Dr. Trevor V. Suslow, University of California, Davis; Joel Kimmelshue, Newfields; and Kathy Alameda, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“The Specialty Block Grant Program is one of the great tools that the department uses to help enhance the sustainability of California agriculture,” said Craig McNamara, President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. “This discussion provides the State Board the opportunity to review current programs and make recommendations, as appropriate, related to implementation.”

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and the CDFA secretary on agricultural issues and consumer needs. The state board conducts forums that bring together local, state and federal government officials, agricultural representative and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.

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