(Nov. 11) Providing ammunition for phytosanitary trade barrier relief, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Nov. 4 announced funding allocations totaling $2 million to 16 organizations under the fiscal 2003 Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program to help open, retain and expand markets for U.S. specialty crops.

Mark Powers, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash., said the organization received $60,000 to study fireblight mitigation and help open export markets.

“We’re very supportive of the program,” he said.

The 2002 farm bill created the TASC program and authorized $2 million of Commodity Credit Corp. resources in each fiscal year from 2002 through 2007 to address barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops. The allocations are limited to $250,000 or less per project, the USDA said.

The funding agreements with the recipient organizations were signed in late September, before the end of fiscal 2003.