West Virginia receives $250,000 in specialty crop grants

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Tomatoes ripen in a West Virginia Garden.
Tomatoes ripen in a West Virginia Garden. (Photo courtesy Chad Stembridge)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $242,335.25 to ten projects to enhance the production, processing, and consumption of specialty crops in West Virginia.

W.Va. Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, praised the value of the projects and of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program for development in the Mountain State.

“From education to research, Specialty Crop Block Grants have been crucial to developing West Virginia’s agricultural sector. We are excited to see the impact these projects will have,” Leonhardt said of the awards.

“We will continue to stress to our federal partners how important is it that these grants remain funded. Our state must be a national voice for agricultural innovation through specialty crops.”

FY 19 total funding requests were $341,277 from West Virginia organizations, agencies, and institutions. The SCBG program funded the following ten:

  • $24,583: Feasibility Study for the West Virginia Economic Development Initiative in Cider Apple and Cider Production, West Virginia University Davis College and Cooperative Extension Service, Marion, Monongalia, and Pendleton counties
  • $25,000: Establishment of a Model Agricultural Education Processing Program for Specialty Crops,  Mineral County Technical Center Agricultural Education Department, Mineral County
  • $25,000: Increased Market Opportunities for Specialty Crops, Heart and Hand House, Barbour County
  • $17,471: Table Grapes for Small/Beginning Farmers and School Children, WVU Berkeley County Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension, Berkeley and Jefferson counties
  • $25,000:  West Virginia Soil Tunnel Trailer II, West Virginia Conservation Agency (Statewide)
  • $17,934: Mobile Maple Outreach and Education, Experience Learning, Randolph, Pendleton, Fayette, and Greenbrier counties
  • $22,200: Mountain Crops to Cash Crops, The Vagabond Chef and Folklore PR, Ohio County
  • $35,013.67: West Virginia Specialty Crop Producer Education Opportunities, WVDA Statewide
  • $24,996: The Potomac State College Mobile Farm-to-Pizza Oven Project. Potomac State College Sustainable Agriculture Program, Mineral County
  • $25,137.58: Increasing the Understanding of Microbial Threats to Food Safety by the Examination of Agricultural Water, WVDA Statewide

Grant recipients now have three years to plan, implement, and gather data on their respective projects. The USDA awarded $72.4 million to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories.

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Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. For more details on the funded projects,


WVDA to hold dairy industry meetings in November

Dairy cattle graze in a meadow. (Photo: Stijn te Strake)

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is inviting milk producers and the public to discuss the state of the dairy industry in West Virginia and will host five meetings in November to gather input, according to Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

“The dairy industry is struggling across the country, just as it is here in West Virginia,” Leonhardt said. “As genetics improve and demand stays flat, farmers are finding it harder to stay afloat.”

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