Flathead Cherry Producers Offering $10 Million Grant for New Ideas
Flathead Cherry growers are looking for big ideas to help the sweet northwest Montana Cherries reach new markets. Montana Agriculture Department Communications Director Jayson O’Neill says there is a ten thousand dollar grant waiting for the perfect idea.
"Through a voluntary program of the cherry industry they created a check off fund which goes to an account that enables these grants to be able to enhance the industry through market research, promotion, and also research on such things as fruit flies and other pests which might harm the production of sweet cherries in Montana," O'Neill said.
O’Neill says Flathead cherries play a significant role in the Montana economy despite being a specialty crop from a single region.
"It's been doing well," O'Neill said. "We had a dip in prices that effected the industry a couple years ago, and those prices have rebounded to almost double the value of the industry last year. In 2012, the total value of the industry was about two million, and last year it was nearly four million dollars."
Ideas need to be submitted to the Department of Agriculture before the end of March to qualify for the grant money.