PORTLAND (AP) — Maine will get more than $600,000 from the federal government in support of the state’s specialty crop producers, including producers of hops.

The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant will give the state $602,679 to invest in ten specialty crop initiatives. The state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says the initiatives will help strengthen food products including potatoes, wild blueberries and maple syrup. The department says it will also investigate the health of honey bees and further development of a hops industry that will aid Maine’s craft beer industry.

Gov. Paul LePage says the market value of Maine agricultural products has increased 24 percent since the last Census of Agriculture. He says the new investments will “strengthen markets for Maine grown crops.”

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