Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) welcomed the announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants available for projects to help specialty crop growers. As a member of the Specialty Crop Caucus, Brownley fought for the renewal of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program when Congress reauthorized the Farm Bill.
"The Specialty Crop Block Grants will create jobs, strengthen our rural communities, and fund research to increase sustainability and profitability for our farmers," said Brownley. "I voted for the Farm Bill to ensure that programs like this one can continue to benefit our farmers and farmworkers in Ventura County, and that families and students across the United States have greater access to healthy foods. Agriculture is a $2 billion dollar industry in Ventura, creates thousands of jobs, and is an integral part of our culture and heritage. I want to do everything I possibly can to help it thrive."
Specialty Crop Block Grants are funded by the Farm Bill, and are allocated directly to U.S. states and territories for distribution based on crop production value and acreage. As the supplier of over half of the United States' fruit and vegetables, California received $18.9 million for 65 different programs, the highest amount of funding provided to any state. Some of the 65 proposals include partnering with the California Strawberry Commission to improve water management, working with the California Cut Flower Commission and the California Flower Growers Cooperative to enhance the competitiveness of California-grown flowers, and working with leafy green growers to develop an industry-wide food safety training program. Strawberries, cut flowers, and leafy greens are three key crops in Ventura County.