On September 17, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the award of block grants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The 54 grants total approximately $55 million, funding 827 projects in fifty states. Funding supports the competitiveness of specialty crops and America’s specialty crop farmers. Washington State Department of Agriculture received $3,744,666.16, the third highest award recipient following California and Florida. Puget Sound Food Network (PSFN) was granted $95,009 of Washington’s award.
The beneficiaries of PSFN, a project of Northwest Agriculture Business Center, are primarily small to mid-sized specialty crop producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, herbs, and nursery crops. The approximately 10,000 farms and 4 million eaters in Northwestern Washington are the target beneficiaries of PSFN through increasing direct market opportunities close to production, building lasting relationships in the community, preserving sustainable food production close to home for prosperity as well as positive environmental impacts. The economic impacts of PSFN will be felt immediately through direct farm sales. PSFN focuses on connecting buyers and sellers of all sizes by creating or enhancing production, processing, distribution, sales, and marketing opportunities for specialty crop producers.
The ultimate goal of this PSFN is to build a strong food community in the Puget Sound region by being the liaison for specialty crop producers, buyers, service providers, community partners and consumers to connect and conduct business. By offering a central online network space complimented by personal relationships with account managers, PSFN will strengthen food community connections across a regional, values-based supply chain, and increase market access and profits of regional specialty crop producers.
For more information about PSFN or to join, please visit www.agbizcenter.org or contact Lucy Norris, Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Summaries of all USDA SCBGP awards can be viewed at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp.