Agriculture Director Bob Flider announced Illinois will receive nearly 540-thousand dollars through the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The funds will be split between 12 projects intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the state's specialty crop industry. While best known for growing corn and soybeans, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins and horseradish in the nation and ranks among the top ten states in the production of asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans. The state devotes more than 117-thousand acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produce nearly 137-million dollars in sales for Illinois farmers. Some grant recipients and projects include the Illinois Specialty Growers Association increasing training opportunities emphasizing food safety requirements, and the Ag in Progress Partnership creating an educational program teaching the importance of honeybees to specialty crop pollination.