Twelve projects throughout the state will benefit from $634,000 in grant money given to the Illinois Department of Agriculture by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will help the IDOA increase the availability of fresh, local produce as well as strengthen Illinois' specialty crop industry. Although the state is most known for corn and soybeans, it is also among the top ten states for the growth of specialty crops like asparagus, cauliflower, green peas, and lima beans. Illinois is also the nation's top producer of pumpkins and horseradish.
"I'd like to thank the USDA for recognizing the importance of expanding access to nutritious, locally-grown foods and providing us these funds," Acting Director of Agriculture Bob Flider said. "They will raise awareness about the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available here and help consumers make food choices that improve not only their health, but also the health of their local economy."
If Illinois increases the amount of money spent on state-grown food to ten percent of the statewide total, an additional $20 billion would be generated in new economic activity every year, according to the Illinois Food, Farms and Jobs Council. The council also says the increase in spending would create jobs in farming and the food industry that would help revitalize rural and urban communities.
The following recipients will benefit from the grant through partnerships:
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