The state Agriculture Department is giving out just over $103,000 in grants to help promote specialty crops in Iowa. State Horticulturist Mike Bevins says specialty crops are anything other than commodities like corn and beans. He says the major focus of the grants is for marketing of the particular crops. Bevins says specialty crops have gotten more attention in recent years.
Bevins says everyone is looking to diversify their income a little bit, so we’re seeing smaller farms that don’t fit into the corporate model of agriculture. Farms that grow fruit and vegetables and that sort of thing. The Ag Department grants will help spread the word about the specialty crops.
Bevens says most of the specialty crops are grown in a limited amount and marketed locally. He says the farmers markets play a big role in marketing specialty crops. Forty percent of the grants will be distributed to eight specialty crop organizations for marketing and promoting efforts. The groups were awarded funds after submitting proposals through a competitive grants process.
The groups receiving funds are: Cedar Falls Main St. Farmers Market; Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association , Mississippi Valley Growers Assoc., Inc for the Bettendorf Farmers Market, Southeast Iowa Nut Growers, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association, Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association and the Iowa Honey Producers.