New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced that nine projects in the state will receive nearly $1.1 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants. Funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. It supports projects designed to increase the competitiveness of New York farms and improve the long-term viability of the State's agri-businesses. Six grants were awarded to support research and grower education based at Cornell University. These projects aim to benefit farms growing vegetables, apples, hops, and wine grapes, as well as tree nurseries across the State. They will help organic and conventional growers utilize new tactics to manage diseases and reduce plant loss, ultimately improving the viability of New York farms. In addition, more than $477,000 is supporting three statewide initiatives to increase the marketing and promotion of New York's specialty crops at a produce trade shows, support greater use of locally-grown specialty crops on school lunch menus through the State's Farm-to-School program, and help farms implement new food safety standards under the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).