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The Missouri Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for funding to increase the production, processing and or distribution of Missouri's specialty crops. The Department anticipates receiving more than $350,000 in grant funding for fiscal year 2013 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Missouri.

"Specialty crop grants provide assistance to Missouri producers in reaching their goals and paving their way to increased opportunities in agriculture," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "We continue to look for every opportunity to assist and support our state's agricultural producers. This funding is one more way to reduce some of the financial hurdles of bringing these products to market and help farmers grow their businesses.

Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The Department's goal is to use the grant program to expand local, regional and international markets and distribution channels for specialty crops, as well as for education, marketing and infrastructure development.

Applications for the 2013 fiscal year must be submitted to the Department no later than May 11, 2012. A list of previously funded projects is available on the Department's website.

Applications are available online, or by contacting the Department's Agriculture Business Development Division at abd@mda.mo.gov. For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at mda.mo.gov.
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