Grants to aid grape export, health studies

California's table grape farmers learned recently they will benefit from two new sources of government grants. A U.S. Department of Agriculture program will help expand world markets for California grapes and a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture will increase scientific understanding of the health benefits of fresh California grapes.

Under the USDA program, the California Table Grape Commission was awarded $160,000 to assist in removing trade barriers for exports of California grapes.

“The table grape industry is consistently leading the way in opening and expanding new international markets,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the commission. “These funds will help us continue that work. When markets are opened or access is improved for California grapes, it not only helps the table grape industry, it sets a precedent for other U.S. farm products as well.”

The CDFA awarded the commission $75,000 as part of a $7 million competitive grant program designed to promote California agriculture products to Californians. A total of 51 grants were awarded as part of the state's Buy California Initiative.

“California table grapes are not only good to eat but new research is showing the significant potential for fresh grapes to improve human health,” said Nave. “This grant will increase our knowledge about the benefits of grapes and that, in turn, leads to consumers choosing grapes more often.” The commission will use the grant to fund three projects researching the ability of California table grapes to fight cancer and heart disease. Commission research shows that health benefits are a significant reason that consumers purchase fresh grapes.

The California Table Grape Commission is the promotional arm of the state's table grape industry and its more than 600 farmers. California produces 97 percent of the fresh grapes grown in the U.S. and exports to more than 60 countries worldwide.

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