California Ag. Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. Named Chairman
SACRAMENTO, CA – The National Association of State Directors of Agriculture (NASDA) has established a task force to analyze the results of the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant program and deliver its recommendations for future funding to members of Congress and the Bush administration. California Agriculture Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. was appointed chairman of the task force.
“California’s farmers and ranchers, like those in most states, are facing tremendous hardships despite their ability to provide an unsurpassed food supply,” said Lyons. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant is a new and positive development that has given many specialty crop producers access to research, market promotion, food safety and other bottom-line-building programs that would not otherwise have been available. This task force seeks to analyze the current program and recommend improvements that will give our growers and ranchers the continued benefits of these very cost-effective grants.”
The new NASDA task force held its first organizational meeting via conference call on January 10, 2003 to begin the process of reviewing and critiquing the current Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The program, implementing the federal Emergency Agricultural Assistance Act of 2001, delivered grants to each of the 50 states based on the annual value of their specialty crop production. California received the largest grant, approximately $64 million. Agricultural leaders in each state worked with their agricultural communities to serve the specific, local needs of specialty crop producers.
In addition to its work on the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, the task force will participate in other agricultural issues, including working with the Foreign Agricultural Service and the U.S. Trade Representative on specialty crop exports. The task force will report to NASDA’s Marketing and International Trade Policy Committee. For further information on NASDA and details of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, please see the NASDA website at www.nasda.org.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814