NEW YORK (WWTI) — Specialty crop industry programs in New York just got more funding.

On Friday, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced over $1.2 million in funding for seven advanced research, education and marketing projects for specialty crop farms in New York. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets secured the grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program. 

New York’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, maple syrup, and honey. They are considered among the state’s most valuable agricultural products. According to Commissioner Ball, this funding will help farms grow and remain competitive.

“New York’s specialty crops are critical to our state’s economy, environment, and way of life. The Specialty Crop Block Grant program supports the strength of these crops by investing in research, encouraging innovation, and helping our agricultural community remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace,” Ball said in a press release. “It is programs like these that help to ensure the continued strength of New York’s agricultural industry for years to come.”

The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Farm Viability Institute. Grants were awarded based on recommendations made by the NYFVI.

The institute first recommended $480,000 for Cornell University for five grower research and education projects. These will focus on monitoring the occurrence and spread of streptomycin resistance, improving the management of sour rot disease, incorporating iopesticides into vegetable disease management, implementing energy-efficient lighting control and facilitating the strength of regional hazelnut and chestnut industries.

Cornell was also awarded $460,000 for research on identifying alternatives to neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos for controlling insect pests in New York’s specialty crops. Additionally, $190,000 from the Specialty Crop Block Grant program will also support marketing and promotional efforts of New York’s specialty crops at tradeshows.

Since the USDA began the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in 2006, New York State has been awarded $16.3 million for 155 specialty crop projects across the state.