Department Announces Recipients of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Funds

Maryland Department of Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture announces eight projects that will be awarded funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to enhance the competitiveness of Maryland specialty crops.

“Maryland’s specialty crops are a critical part of our state’s agriculture industry as more farmers begin to diversify their operations and enter new niche markets,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The funds granted by the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program are vital to the success of the specialty crop sector in Maryland and I am thrilled to announce this year’s eight grant recipients.”

The projects were selected after a competitive review process with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and an external review committee comprised of representatives from the specialty crop industry, lending institutions, economic development, and producers. A total of $452,382 in grant funds will be distributed to the following eight projects:

  • Grow & Fortify will receive $25,861.25 to increase the visibility and profitability of Maryland-grown apples and honey by developing a marketing and promotion plan that supports the apple and honey specialty crops, and the larger industries that are dependent on these ingredients.
  • Maryland Public Television’s “Maryland Farm & Harvest” will receive $35,000 to support specialty crop coverage in season 7 of the agriculture series. These segments will explain the production of specialty crops, introduce Marylanders to farmers who grow specialty crops, and provide recipes for specialty crops.
  • The Maryland Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland will receive $122,861.63 to partner together to provide coordinated food safety programs to assist specialty crop producers in complying with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule and maintaining and gaining market access.
  • Maryland’s Best will receive $133,817.28 to increase sales and consumer demand for Maryland-grown specialty crops through targeted advertising, strategic consumer and wholesale promotions, networking events, and direct partnerships with Maryland specialty crop producer associations. Additionally, Maryland’s Best, the agricultural marketing program at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, will use some of these grant funds to pilot a program with Baltimore City Public Schools to support transportation for students in the city to travel to Great Kids Farm in Baltimore County, where they will learn about specialty crops.
  • NetGlo Corporation will receive $27,000 in funding to enhance the ability of Maryland specialty crop producers and processors to meet regulatory and buyer food safety requirements by demonstrating the use of an automated lot tracking system (including Blockchain) and disseminating feedback to Maryland stakeholders.
  • The Agriculture Law Education Initiative at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) will receive $32,860.79 to develop a “Legal Guide to Direct Farm Marketing for Maryland Produce Growers.” The guide will equip farmers with the knowledge they need to effectively manage the legal risks involved with direct marketing and empower them to strengthen and expand their direct marketing efforts.
  • The University of Maryland’s Bee Lab will be awarded $48,508.65 to evaluate the effectiveness of miticides for managing the honey bee pest Varroa destructor (Varroa mites) in Maryland.
  • The University of Maryland Entomology Department will receive $26,472.40 to study the management of Drosophila suzukii (D. suzukii) and fungi in raspberries using peroxyacetic acid.

Funding is provided to state departments of agriculture from the Farm Bill through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. ?The Maryland Department of Agriculture administers funding received from the USDA SCBGP annually. The amount of funding received by the Maryland Department of Agriculture is based on specialty crop acreage and production value on an annual basis.

Maryland specialty crops include: fruits and vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, honey, hops, grapes, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and nursery crops.

For more information about the USDA SCBGP, visit the department’s website or contact Karen Fedor at (410) 841-5773 or karen.fedor@maryland.gov.


The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.