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State

USDA provides specialty crop money for Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing about $630,000 to help pay for a dozen projects in Illinois intended to strengthen the specialty crop industry in the state.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said Tuesday the grant will be used for projects that include a University of Illinois effort to improve produce handling at farmers markets and a social media campaign to inform people of specialty crop growers.

Other projects include a buy-local marketing campaign in grocery stores and farmers markets and educational conferences for farmers.

The state Department of Agriculture points out that while the state is known for corn and soybeans it also is the largest grower of pumpkins in the country. Illinois also grows substantial amounts of asparagus, cauliflower and lima beans, as well as other produce.

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