SACRAMENTO—The producers of California’s vast agricultural harvest have the unprecedented opportunity later this month to advise the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on the best uses for federal block grants to assist specialty crop growers in the Golden State. Five “listening sessions” will provide a forum for ideas on how $64 million in federal funds should be allocated.
The funds have been made available through the Emergency Agricultural Assistance Act of 2001. At the urging of California’s Congressional delegation and CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons Jr., this measure for the first time provides assistance for specialty crop issues. California is ripe with such needs, producing over 350 fruits, vegetables and other agricultural commodities. “Despite our abundant production, California’s farmers and ranchers are facing tremendous hardships,” said Lyons. “Our hope is that these relatively modest funds can help the long-term profitability of our industry.”
At the listening sessions later this month, CDFA officials will briefly describe the scope of the block grant program, and with the assistance of county agricultural commissioners, will receive comments and suggestions from members of the community on how the funds should best be utilized. All ideas that assist the bottom line of specialty crop producers will be considered. Ideas submitted to date include value-added research, market promotion, food safety, and nutrition education.
Comments on the block grant program will also be accepted in writing through November 1, 2001. Please submit comments to CDFA Block Grant Program, 1220 N Street, Suite 428, Sacramento, CA 95814. For additional information, please contact Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Listening Session Schedule
October 18, 2001 9 AM Tulare Heritage Complex, World Ag Exposition, Tulare
October 23, 2001 9 AM Stockton San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, Stockton
October 25, 2001 9 AM Salinas Richard Nutter Agricultural Center, Salinas
October 29, 2001 9 AM El Centro Mid-Winter Fiesta Fairgrounds, El Centro
October 31, 2001 9 AM Sacramento CDFA Auditorium, 1220 N Street, Sacramento
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814