USDA awards Florida specialty crop block grant funds

03/30/2009 02:00:00 AM

There are more than 100 certified organic growers in Florida and about 14,000 acres currently managed in compliance with USDA National Organic Standards.  FOG will also seek to engage Florida-based and national retailers to promote and purchase both Florida organic and transitional specialty crops.

• Florida Sweet Corn Exchange - $100,318: The Florida Sweet Corn Exchange will conduct a statewide promotional campaign to focus on Florida producers and reinforce the message for Floridians to buy Florida corn.  The program focuses on actual producers and conveys messages from Florida farmers to connect consumers with actual producers. 

The promotion will feature in store displays and messages throughout the state. Corn purchased in state from Florida growers strengthens Florida farms, reduces transportation costs and narrows retails margins. The estimated 2007 cash receipts for farms producing Florida Sweet Corn totaled $113 million dollars, representing approximately 29,500 harvested acres.

• Florida Tomato Committee - $227,135: The Tomato Committee focused on a media consumer education program to counter balance the negative impact of last years Salmonella scare.  The consumer outreach campaign covered 14 major markets for Florida tomatoes. 

The message is to educate consumers that fresh Florida round tomatoes are safe and healthy.  The outreach is essential for Florida tomatoes to return to normal levels of purchase and consumption. The state of Florida annual tomato crop is valued at $500 million to $700 million and supplies 90 percent of the nation’s domestically grown tomatoes during the winter months.

• Florida Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida Inc. - $68,784: Funds will be used to conduct a marketing initiative to promote Florida tropical fruit to retail markets and the general public. The campaign will include in store demos to educate the public and heighten awareness and consumption of tropical fruit. This will be a one-year promotion. 

Fruits will be showcased in stores during their peak production period. The promotional campaign will inform consumers about the availability of Florida tropical fruits, provide opportunities to taste locally grown product, increase the availability to purchase tropical fruit in retail markets and establish connections with growers for direct sales. The campaign will also promote products made with Florida tropical fruit.

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