Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has announced that 18 North Carolina organizations have been awarded grants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace.

More than $1 million will be granted for 22 projects that benefit North Carolina’s specialty crops industry as a whole. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass and sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops.

The program, managed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program established by the 2008 farm bill.

Grant proposals ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 were submitted by non-profit organizations and corporations, commodity associations, state and local governments, and colleges and universities. Committees made up of representatives of a variety of agricultural and marketing groups in North Carolina made the grant decisions.

“There were many worthy projects, and the competition for funds was intense,” Troxler said. “The 22 selected projects should help North Carolina farmers grow more profitable crops, which in turn can help them stay on their farms.”

Following are the grant recipients; numbers in parentheses denote the number of grants an organization received: N.C. State University (five), N.C. A&T State University, NCDA&CS, N.C. Christmas Tree Association, N.C. SweetPotato Commission, N.C. SweetPotato Commission Foundation Inc., Johnston County Nurserymen Marketing Association, N.C. Strawberry Association Inc., N.C. Vegetable Growers Association, N.C. Watermelon Association, N.C. Commercial Flower Growers Association, N.C. Nursery and Landscape Association, N.C. Sod Producers Association, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, N.C. Blueberry Council, New River Organic Growers Inc., Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center.