Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

June 17, 2009

Commissioner Announces $900,000 For New York Specialty Crops

Grants for Fruit, Vegetable, Maple, Honey & Horticulture Producers Applications Due July 17

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the availability of $900,000 in grants to enhance the competitiveness of New York’s specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is funding through the 2008 federal Farm Bill to assist New York’s specialty crops, which includes fruits, vegetables, maple and honey and horticulture crops.

“Specialty crops are incredibly valuable to the State’s economy, environment and quality of life. The fruit and vegetable sector is especially important to maintain good health and other sectors help keep New York green,” the Commissioner said. “We need to ensure that this industry remains viable and competitive, and these grants will provide an exceptional funding resource to explore new programs, technologies or other innovative approaches to advance this important sector of the State’s agricultural industry.”

This special allotment of funding in the Farm Bill will provide a minimum of $30,000 and a maximum of $200,000 for projects that enhance the competitiveness of New York’s specialty crops. Eligible projects should address at least one of the following funding categories that were identified by the industry. They are: “buy local” packaging and labeling; distribution; education and outreach; environmental quality and conservation; food safety; food security; marketing and promotion; nutrition; plant health, pest and productivity challenges; product development; and international trade enhancement.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will be awarded on a competitive basis and does not require matching funds. The program is open to all non-profits, for-profits, government entities, educational institutions and individuals. Applications can be downloaded at and must be received at the Department no later than July 17, 2009.

Specialty crops are generally defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture), herbs and spices. A detailed list of commonly recognized specialty crops is provided at

New York State produces a wide range of specialty crops that include fruits and vegetables, wine, maple syrup, horticulture and nursery crops. Specialty crops generate $1.34 billion annually in New York and make up one-third of the State’s total agricultural receipts. They also rank high nationally in both production and economic value. For example, New York is the second largest state in the nation for apples, cabbage and maple syrup; third for grapes and cauliflower; and fourth for tart cherries, pear, snap beans and sweet corn

2009 Press Releases