California Secretary of Food and Agriculture A.G. Kawamura is announcing the formation of the Specialty Crop Advisory Committee. This advisory committee will make recommendations to the department on Specialty Crop Block Grant Program applications authorized under the 2008 farm bill. Individuals interested in serving on the committee are urged to apply by Feb. 23, 2009.

“By working with our growers and processors we can keep California’s specialty crop sector innovative and competitive,” said Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “This advisory committee will help determine projects that meet the agricultural needs of this state.”

The 2008 farm bill amends the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004, providing increased federal funding to states through fiscal year 2012. It is anticipated that $49 million will be made available in the current year, of which approximately $14.5 million would be allocated for California. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).

The Specialty Crop Advisory Committee will consist of 12 individuals who represent the diversity of California’s specialty crop industry. Members receive no compensation, but are entitled to payment of necessary traveling expenses in accordance with the rules of the Department of Personnel Administration. By establishing the advisory committee, CDFA is adhering to amended language of the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act, which encourages the development of state plans through a competitive process to ensure maximum public input and benefit.

Individuals interested in being considered for an appointment should submit a resume and a letter of interest demonstrating their commitment to work on behalf of California’s specialty crop industry. Committee members will review applications submitted under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program authorized under the 2008 farm bill.

Applications should be sent to Casey Walsh Cady, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 ‘N’ Street Room 444, Sacramento, Calif., 95814, or e-mailed to ccady@cdfa.ca.gov.