The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded more than $1.3 million in 26 matching grants to 21 states supporting agricultural market research and demonstration projects.

These grants, provided under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program, explore new and innovative approaches to marketing U.S. food and agricultural products and help improve the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.

"They are focused on developing innovative, more efficient and market-oriented ways to benefit our agricultural sector and support our nation's growing economy in the 21st century," says agriculture secretary Mike Johanns.



The projects focus on developing agricultural marketing strategies for an array of areas such as a pilot statewide food traceability system; assessing local grower capability to supply regional demand for HACCP certified bagged salad greens; and exploring opportunities for sales, distribution and safe handling guidelines of locally grown and processed products in schools.

Among the grants USDA awarded were:

Arizona: $49,275 to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Arizona State University, to conduct a national survey to identify attributes of an effective, private-sector funded state branding program.

Hawaii: $50,000 to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with industry partners, to conduct a pilot project for a statewide food traceability system.

Maryland: $50,000 to the University of Maryland School of Nursing, in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, several non-profit organizations and others, to promote increased use of locally produced foods in Maryland hospitals.

Massachusetts: $33,825 to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts and non-profit organization partners, to determine the regional demand for HACCP certified bagged salad greens and to assess the capability of local growers to supply this market.

New Jersey: $85,000 to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Rutgers University, to prepare produce growers to meet emerging food safety trends and access commercial markets through training on the state's food safety certification program.

New Mexico: $58,550 to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Chile Commission and industry partners, to develop a comprehensive regional marketing program for red chilies.



Ohio: $49,225 to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Ohio State University and industry partners, to explore opportunities for sales of locally grown and processed products in school vending machines, and to conduct a pilot project in a university setting.

Ohio: $56,715 to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Ohio State University, the Ohio Farm Bureau and others, to evaluate the current marketing strategies and practices of Ohio food producers, and to determine if and how a Web-based marketing system can improve the effectiveness of their efforts.

Oklahoma: $56,365 to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in cooperation with Oklahoma State University, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Oklahoma State Department of Education, to develop food distribution models for small, medium and large producers, and to create safe handling guidelines to foster use of locally grown and produced food products in school systems throughout the state.

Oregon: $43,000 to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Oregon State University Food Innovation Center and the Oregon School Nutrition Association, to explore opportunities for Oregon producers to supply ingredients or produce processed products for sale to public schools and to conduct a pilot project involving several products tailored to meet the needs and requirements of participating schools.

Washington: $55,000 to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Washington Red Raspberry Commission and Washington State University, to use health-based research in support of a program to expand use of red raspberries in the production of new and existing processed products.



Wyoming: $23,000 to the Wyoming Business Council to foster development of the specialty food sector in Wyoming and to train producers and processors on food safety principles.