Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $1.7 Million to Enhance Production of Specialty Crops

– Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that the Oregon Department of Agriculture will receive $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance the production and sale of specialty crops.   Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in production of specialty crops, which include blueberries, cranberries, cherries, hazelnuts, onions, pears, potatoes, and raspberries, as well as other fruits and vegetables, grass seed, and nursery crops, including Christmas trees.

“Agriculture is deeply ingrained into Oregon’s economy and our unique landscape allows our farmers to grow many crops better than anyone else in the world,” Merkley said.  “This funding will help promote Oregon’s fantastic agricultural products around the globe.”

“This money for specialty crops was hard won and will be a boost for Oregon’s economy,” said Wyden. “It will also help spread the word about the great bounty of our state to the rest of the world and create new, global markets for Oregon crops. This funding couldn’t come at a better time.”

Oregon projects to receive funding include events to connect Oregon farmers with wholesale buyers, sustainability certification, and private-public partnerships to promote consumer awareness of Oregon products.

A list of the 25 Oregon programs is below.


Oregon Department of Agriculture

Amount Awarded: $1,764,486.13
Number of Projects:

Achieve International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation for the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Laboratory Services Division to provide voluntary certification services to potatoes, onions, blueberries, cherries, and pears.

Implement a pilot project that will document the process for implementing farm to school programs that integrate the school cafeteria with the classroom and community in a large urban and small rural school district, and describe the program’s impact on present and future market opportunities for Oregon fruits and vegetables in the school food market.

Conduct a trade development mission to Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Macau to introduce Oregon and Washington potatoes through specialty product cooking demonstrations and buyer meetings.

Conduct three farm day events to offer new opportunities for Oregon specialty crop farmers to connect to local wholesale buyers.

Partner with Curry Soil and Water Conservation District to expand cranberry marketing to Japan, Korea, China, and India, make cranberry farming more profitable for growers with a series of innovations on their farm, and commission a film/DVD about Oregon‘s South Coast cranberries.

Partner with Ecotrust to support comprehensive outreach and marketing efforts to recruit specialty crop producers and buyers and complete site modifications and improvements based on specialty crop user feedback. To ensure that specialty crop funding solely enhances the competiveness of specialty crops, the ratio of FoodHub specialty crop funding to non-specialty crop funding will be monitored, making sure it is equal to or less than the ratio of specialty crop members.

Partner with Food Alliance to create a voluntary sustainability certification program that provides nursery growers with opportunities to differentiate and add value to products.

Partner with Klamath Basin Fresh Direct, LLC to increase the sustainability of potato producers through the development and marketing of specialty potato varieties and potato products.

Partner with the Idaho Department of Agriculture and Northwest Food Processors Association to create a comprehensive, industry-driven sustainability support structure to help specialty crop producers and processors design and implement company-specific sustainability plans. Matching funds will be utilized to cover expenditures for non-specialty crop commodities.

Partner with Oregon Environmental Council to establish and manage a certification program for carbon management at Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE).

Partner with the Oregon Potato Commission to participate in a trade mission to the Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Macau to focus on multi-disciplinary methods involving expert potato variety personnel, an executive chef, potato exporters, written materials, and outreach seminars that will enhance the competitiveness of the Pacific Northwest potato industry.

Partner with the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission to increase awareness of Oregon berries as a premium berry crop by showcasing the industry in a two-day festival.

Partner with Oregon Wine Board to increase consumer awareness of Oregon certified sustainable wine through media relations, online marketing, and trade education.

Partner with Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association to protect current existing markets and build and develop new markets while providing a message to consumers that includes the sustainable nature of real Christmas trees while dispelling common misperceptions.

Partner with the Washington Department of Agriculture and the Pear Bureau Northwest to augment market development and access, as well as provide consumer education concerning USA pear product and varietal development and nutritional benefits in Mexico.

Partner with Perfectly Ripened Produce to develop a higher value market in India for fresh and dried pears and cherries.

Provide aspiring farmers with comprehensive field-based instruction and support in commercial, specialty crop farming operations.

Partner with the Oregon Association of Nurseries to develop a systems approach manual that addresses procurement and propagation of clean stock that includes best management practices for nursery operations.

Partner with Oregon Seed Council to educate producers of fine turf and other minor crops in the area of contract law and business structure.

Assist nurseries in identifying at which critical point the Phytophthora disease is being introduced to their nursery.

Identify common constraints in Mexico, Japan, and Hawaii markets to effectively and efficiently address quarantine issues and quality concerns in Oregon Christmas Trees.

Partner with Blue Mountain Horticultural Society to enable area wide mating disruption, predict insect and disease life cycles accurately, enable accurate timing of soft chemical sprays, reduce frequencies of chemical sprays, minimize effects of untended backyard fruit trees and abandoned orchards, and attempt to eliminate apple maggot from Pendleton.

Partner with Certified Onions, Inc. to expand food safety testing to include all registered pesticides used on onions and also testing for undesirable pathogens through the reduction of the cost for testing, an increase in the marketing and promotion of the benefits of testing to buyers and consumers, creation of added value for Oregon onions, and the provision of research in order to develop the most effective testing models.

Partner with Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers to provide cost-sharing to growers for mating disruption dispensers and conduct an intensive monitoring program for codling moth supporting threshold-based pest management decision making.

Perform pre-award and post-award activities in order to administrate the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations