A $48,500 grant over three years will help fund Snohomish County’s annual Focus on Farming Conference, scheduled this year for Nov. 4 at the Tulalip Resort and Conference Center. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, was awarded to the county in September for its efforts to enhance competitiveness of specialty crops – one aspect of the annual conference that now draws more than 500 participants from across the state. “Our partnership with the USDA shows the strong connections that this truly regional conference has with the agriculture industry in Washington state and beyond,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “The work we are doing here in Snohomish County is protecting farmland, keeping agriculture a viable option for generations to come and increasing farmers’ profitability.”

Another part of the USDA – the Farm Service Agency – was a sponsor of last year’s Focus on Farming Conference and continues as a sponsor this year. “We are pleased to support diverse efforts to help specialty crop growers market their products in a global marketplace and encourage all Americans to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption,” said U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “These grants are instrumental in helping specialty crop growers tackle the issues they are facing today.”

The USDA grant, part of a larger block grant to the state, is administered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, which is co-hosting its statewide Future of Farming meeting at the Tulalip Resort and Conference Center the day before the annual Focus on Farming Conference.

This year, the county will use $12,000 of the $48,500, with $17,500 available for next year and $19,000 for 2012.

Snohomish County also is partnering with local organizations such as the Snohomish County Farm Bureau, which has donated $10,000 to this year’s conference. Additional grants and sponsorships will help fund the 2010 conference, including money from the Snohomish Conservation District ($5,000), USDA’s Farm Service Agency ($3,500) and Country Financial Insurance ($3,500).

A number of $2,500 sponsors include Cedar Grove Compost, NW Dairy Association, Washington State Farm Bureau, Bill the Butcher Inc, and the Washington Potato Commission.

“The fact that so many different agricultural organizations and companies want to be a part of this annual event says we’re on the right track with our goals for farming in Snohomish County,” Reardon said. “We continue to be a leader in agriculture initiatives.”

To register for Focus on Farming VII, go to www.focusonfarming.org. For conference questions, contact Linda Neunzig, the county’s agriculture project coordinator, at 425-388-7170 or linda.neunzig@snoco.org.

  • Share/Bookmark