Land of Lincoln gets grants for specialty crops

Money is being made available for specialty crops in Illinois.
Money is being made available for specialty crops in Illinois.
Grants may be available for those who use farm equipment on specialty crops in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture recently announced that the state will get an additional $209,000 in block grants from the federal government. The grants are being made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tom Jennings, director for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, noted that the grants show that the USDA recognizes the importance of expanding access to locally-grown foods.

"The grants 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," Jennings said.

Farmers in the state can apply for the grant funds through April 30. Overall, more than $640,000 is available. The funds can be used to promote organic and sustainable production practices, along with investing in research for specialty crops.

These funds from the USDA aren't the only efforts being made by the government to improve local growing. The department's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program aims to connect people with the farmers in their region.