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AGRICULTURE

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More than $1.2 million in funding is being made available to help specialty crop farms across New York state grow and remain competitive.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets said it recently secured the grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to support advanced research, education and marketing projects.

New York’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, maple syrup, and honey, and are among the state’s most valuable agricultural products. Since the USDA began the program in 2006, the state said it has been awarded $16.3 million for 155 specialty crop projects.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, in coordination with the New York Farm Viability Institute, which recommended $480,000 be provided to Cornell University for five grower research and education projects that will focus on:

• Monitoring the occurrence and spread of streptomycin resistance and refinement of alternative management programs for fire blight

• Improving management of sour rot disease and its important insect vectors in New York wine grapes

• Incorporating iopesticides into vegetable disease management

• Implementing energy efficient lighting control to increase the profitability of New York State commercial greenhouses

• Facilitating the strength of New York’s regional hazelnut and chestnut industries through the identification of improved genetic materials and best management practices

Cornell University was also awarded $460,000 for research on identifying alternatives to neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos for controlling insect pests in New York’s specialty crops.

In addition, $190,000 from the Specialty Crop Block Grant program will also support the marketing and promotion of New York’s specialty crops at trade shows.

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