U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced critical support for Michigan farmers and producers across the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will provide over $1.3 million to support 25 Michigan specialty crop projects throughout the state.
Today's announcement is a direct result of Senator Stabenow's work during the 2008 Farm Bill, when she authored the section that for the first time recognized the importance of specialty crops - fruits, vegetables, nursery products, and floriculture. Michigan produces a wider diversity of crops than any state but California.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: "This is good news for our local farmers who are vital to our economy and the diversity of Michigan agriculture, and who were devastated this year by drought and freezes. In the last Farm Bill, I wrote a section that for the first time focused on helping these producers grow and create jobs. Today's announcement is part of my initiative to provide our farmers with the tools they need to protect, market and export their crops. Now, it's critical that the House of Representatives pass a new Farm Bill, so we can continue to support this sector and spur new Michigan agricultural jobs."
Stabenow authored the 2012 Farm Bill, which includes critical support for Michigan fruit, vegetable, and nursery growers. The Farm Bill passed the Senate in June by a vote of 64-35, but has not been taken up by the House of Representatives.
The current Farm Bill expired on September 30, putting future support for specialty crop producers in jeopardy, and creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty for Michigan's agricultural sector.
The goal of USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crop producers. The program assists the specialty crops industry through grants that support marketing, research, agri-tourism, food access, and sustainability.
For a complete list of Michigan projects, please visit www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp