Iowa department announces funds for specialty crops

Specialty crops in Iowa may get help thanks to federal funds.
Specialty crops in Iowa may get help thanks to federal funds.
Farm equipment users and other organizations in Iowa may benefit from federal grant funds.

Recently, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said it was awarding $238,538 in grant funds made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Fifteen organizations will receive funds from the IDALS.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said specialty crops are important to the state because they give producers a way to diversify their operations while providing consumers in the state additional access.

"These federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers that are produced right here in our state," Northey said.

The USDA offers a variety of grants and loans that may help farm equipment users improve their operations. Along with specialty crops, funds are available for making farms more environmentally friendly.

Other programs give beginning farmers a way to purchase or rent land from producers who are retiring. The USDA also offers emergency loans to those affected by natural disasters.