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The Indiana State Department of Agriculture announced three Indiana specialty crop projects received a total sum of $446,169 through funding provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture, and nursery crops. For a full list of specialty crops please visit ams.usda.gov.

Annually, Specialty Crop Block Grants are available to non-profit and for-profit organizations, governments, and public or private colleges and universities for up to a three-year project term and will fund specialty crop research, education, and market development. To qualify, projects must aim to benefit the industry as a whole, rather than one product, individual, or organization. Applications undergo a competitive scoring process, including review by an external scoring committee.

The following list includes the organizations that received funding for the 2023-2026 grant cycle:

Slaughter Farms – Award: $163,680

Slaughter Orchard and Cidery will demonstrate to orchards, cider mills, cideries, and wholesale buyers that ground harvested apples can be safely and legally harvested, processed, and fermented into hard cider by creating a HACCP Plan, demonstrating the HACCP Plan for stakeholders during multiple field days and writing a position paper explaining how the process can be achieved safely and legally by others in the apple, cider and hard cider industries.

Purdue University Extension – Award: $155,966

Purdue University Extension will develop and deliver food produce safety programming for small fruit and vegetable growers in Indiana. In addition to current educational offerings that assist specialty crop growers in achieving compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR 112), educators will develop practical, research-based training that may be offered at the Purdue Student Farm, the Purdue Extension Food Safety Training Hub and across the state. These two locations will allow for hands-on training to use equipment that will improve food safety practices for small growers. Course materials will be developed and outreach will be conducted based on stakeholder input that will address real time needs.

Purdue University – Award: $126,523

Purdue University Food Science and Entomology Departments will collect honey samples from beekeepers around Indiana to develop a fingerprinting methodology utilizing nuclear magnetic resonance to assess quality and authenticate the origins and purity of honey produced in Indiana. The information generated through the honey testing will allow Purdue to use a database for adulteration and origin testing through NMR fingerprinting will be established to allow honey producers to ensure the quality of their honey and increase the marketability of Indiana honey. After the methodology and database have been created, the testing can be offered as a service to apiary stakeholders in Indiana. This service will build a resource to promote the Indiana honey crop while assisting producers with research and development relative to honey quality and marketing. Additionally, this project will provide honey producers with a solution to challenges faced regarding authentication and quality certification of honey produced in Indiana.

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