State

Ill. gets $500K federal grant for local crops

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois will receive nearly $540,000 in federal funds to expand the availability of fresh, locally grown produce.

Agriculture Director Bob Flider said Wednesday the money will come from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. It will be split among 12 projects focused on local produce.

Flider says Illinois' "fertile soil and favorable climate" are good for growing a variety of crops. He says the grants will help encourage production and make nutritious food available to more people.

Illinois is known for growing corn and soybeans. But it's the nation's largest pumpkin and horseradish producer in the nation and is among the top states for such crops as asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans.

The state has more than 117,000 acres of specialty crops which produce $137 million in sales.

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