Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Awards 12 Grants to Support Specialty Crop Producers

Specialty Crop Block Grants are offered in partnership with USDA

DES MOINES, Iowa (August 25, 2022) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has awarded over $334,000 in grants to help grow demand for Iowa’s specialty crops. The money will be distributed to support 12 programs or projects that raise awareness about, drive demand for, or create new markets benefiting Iowa’s specialty crops and is made available through a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Iowa has many specialty crop farmers, producers, and retailers and they do a wonderful job showcasing the diversity of Iowa agriculture,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “As locally produced foods remain in great demand and as we work to shorten our supply chains, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is pleased to partner with USDA to offer grants that help farmers diversify their offerings, expand their distribution channels, and improve marketing methods in ways that encourage consumers to choose Iowa grown products.”

The specialty crop block grants will be awarded to the following organizations to assist with the following initiatives:

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Farmer to Farmer Knowledge Sharing to Improve Cut-Flower Production and Profitability

To improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in Iowa through in-depth, crop-specific knowledge sharing related to cut flower production and marketing among farmers at conferences, field days, and meetups.

Rodale Institute

Development and Demonstration of No-Till Vegetable Production Systems in Iowa

To reduce the reliance on plastic mulch by using permanent beds for no-till vegetable production while additionally studying temperatures, water, and soil nitrate impacts.

Iowa State University

Climate Smart Irrigation Sensors and Technologies for Iowa Vegetable Growers

To study efficient management of irrigation and how sensors, sensor technology, and automation can be used for sustainable water management. 

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Reimbursement for On-Farm Food Safety Improvements for Fruit and Vegetable Growers

To increase competitiveness of specialty crops by supporting on-farm enhancements through a reimbursement program and through in-depth knowledge sharing at a field day.

Iowa State University

Improvement of Blueberry Establishment in Iowa Soils

To improve blueberry production in Iowa by working to lower the soil pH, study the viability of two new cultivars, and reduce establishment costs for producers.

Iowa State University

Winemaking Practices to Improve Cold-Hardy Wine Quality Over Time

To study enhancing the way Iowa wines age by evaluating the use of sulfur dioxide and other options used to preserve the quality in Iowa wine. 

Iowa Wine Growers Association

Specialty Producers Conference

To host and provide education opportunities to specialty producers at a specialty producers conference.

Healthy Harvest North Iowa

The Kitchen: Where Small Communities and Food Businesses Grow in North Iowa

To partner with local collaborators to create a shared-use kitchen space offering commercial-grade equipment, storage space, and technical assistance to businesses to support the development of value-added products from specialty crops, increase farm profitability, and decrease food waste in north Iowa

Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation

Teaching about Vineyards and Grape Production

To provide educational material and career connection highlights for educators and students about vineyard management, grape processing, product production. 

Iowa Food Foundation

Developing Digital and Print Marketing Tools for Shared Use amongst Iowa’s Specialty Crop Markets and Producers

To support a year-long digital and print marketing campaign focusing on the community benefit of buying locally.

Iowa State University

Business Basics Boot Camps for Iowa Specialty Producers

To increase the financial and marketing business knowledge of Iowa specialty producers by offering financial and marketing boot camps.

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University

Understanding Capacity and Feasibility of a Fruit and Vegetable Processing Facility in Iowa

To fund research with Iowa State University to determine best practices for processing facilities in other states; conduct market analysis and a feasibility study for a processing facility; and understand the potential economic impact that a processing facility for local fruits and vegetables could be for our state.


About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Don McDowell
Communications Director