November 29, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has awarded over $1.2 million in 2023 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants to 11 projects aiming to boost the competitiveness of Minnesota-grown specialty crops in domestic and foreign markets.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds projects focused on marketing and promotion, research and development, expanding availability and access, and addressing challenges confronting producers of specialty crops. A full list of 2023 recipients and their projects can be found below.

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program supports innovation in Minnesota’s specialty crop sector and increases market opportunities for our producers,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “We thank USDA for their continued support that helps strengthen the competitiveness of Minnesota-grown crops.”

Grant funding is provided annually by a USDA Block Grant under the legislative authority of the Farm Bill. USDA defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, floriculture, and processed products that have 50% or more specialty crop content by weight, exclusive of added water.

Applications for 2024 Specialty Crop Block Grants are anticipated to open in January. Visit the MDA website for more information on the grant program.

Grantee Organization Name

Principle Investigator/ Project Coordinator

Federal Award Amount

Project Description

Hmong American Farmers Association

Dao Yang


Training Hmong farmers to access new markets and increase availability of locally grown tree fruit.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy



Harvest of the Month programming for Minnesota's youngest eaters.

Minnesota Farmers' Market Association

Kathy Zeman


Translations of field conditions and price reporting for Minnesota specialty crops in multiple languages.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Michelle Grabowski


Identifying best management practices for red star rust, an invasive pathogen of apple and nursery crops.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Nicole Baysal


On-farm produce safety improvement grants and Produce Safety Rule grower training.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Rachel Wandrei


Statewide promotion of Minnesota Grown specialty crops.

Regents of the University of Minnesota

Dr. Brandon Miller


Jumping worm management in container nursery crops.

Regents of the University of Minnesota

Daniel Kaiser


Improving dry bean profitability in Minnesota by optimizing nutrient management.

Regents of the University of Minnesota

Matthew D. Clark


Assessing Rubus wild crop relatives for caneberry genetic improvement.

Regents of the University of Minnesota

Vera Krischik


Development of a biocontrol agent for Japanese beetle in Minnesota wine grapes, hops, berries, and apples.

Sprout MN

Taran Skwira


Specialty crop value education and expanding marketing efforts to rural communities.


Media Contact
Logan Schumacher, MDA Communications