HARRISBURG – The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved a measure this week that would create a block grant program to support the development of specialty crops, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Judy Ward (R-30).
Senate Bill 661 would create the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to support products that are not already covered under a similar federal program. The grants would be targeted to high-priority specialty crops, such as such as hemp, hops and hardwoods.
The new program would be open to state and local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other specialty crops stakeholders. Eligible projects would have to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by improving distribution, efficiency, research and other initiatives to boost consumption of good targeted by the program.
“Agriculture is the top industry, both locally and statewide, and specialty crops are a growing part of that industry,” Ward said. “The federal program has played an important role in supporting a wide variety of crops, and I am hopeful that we can extend the same record of success to an even larger number of specialty goods through this new program.”
The existing Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program already helps to enhance the markets for other specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.
Senate Bill 661 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Cheryl Schriner (717) 787-5490