The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $243 million into grants for specialty crop development and research. Olives are included on its list of 47 eligible fruits and vegetables.
The USDA said it would make $169.9 million available directly to local agencies (such as the Olive Oil Commission of California) and agricultural organizations (such as the California Olive Oil Council) in the form of block grants. The agency’s goal is for local entities to help specialty crop farmers become more competitive.See Also:Most Agricultural Spending Does More Harm Than Good, UN Report Claims
The remainder of the funding will be invested in the agency’s specialty crop research initiative, which will fund projects to address disease and pest management, improve production efficiency and profitability for farmers, develop technical innovations and improve food safety for both conventional and organic farmers.
“This historic level of funding will help the specialty crops industry recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Over the coming months, as we work diligently to transform our food system, you will continue to see Build Back Better funding announced that includes a mix of grants, loans and innovative financing mechanisms,” he added.
This new round of grants for specialty crop farmers comes a little more than a year after the USDA decided to include olive farmers in its second round of coronavirus relief funding after excluding them from the first round.
In total, the second coronavirus relief package amounted to $20.5 billion, with individual farmers and companies awarded a maximum of $250,000 to make up for lost productivity.