Apr 13, 2021$330M in specialty crops grants, incentives to purchase produce set
The USDA announced April 13 the availability of more than $330 million to help agricultural producers and organizations in the food supply chain recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative launched in March, and includes $169.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), the availability of $75 million for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program [GusNIP; formerly known as Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI)] grantees and approximately $80 million in payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton.
This funding will aid in developing new markets for U.S. agricultural products, expand the specialty crop food sector, and incent the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. USDA also informed dairy producers and processors today about ongoing plans for the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
USDA launched the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative in March with $6.5 billion in available funding to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations.
“We launched USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers to respond in a broader, fairer way to the pandemic’s impact across food and agriculture, and we are following through on our promise,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in wide-ranging impacts that were felt throughout the agricultural sector. The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on ensuring that the entire agricultural sector successfully rebuilds following the pandemic, and the funding we’re announcing today will reach a broader set of producers and businesses than previous COVID-19 aid programs.”
Developing new markets for specialty crops, expanding existing ones
- $72.9 million available as part of the annual Farm Bill funding for the program; and
- An additional $97 million available as emergency funding for applications under this solicitation. Congress provided this funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, due to COVID-19 impacts to the food system.
Grant project funding awarded as part of pandemic assistance can also go to organizations to assist farmworkers (e.g., for PPE and vaccination costs), projects to fund farmers, food businesses, and other relevant entities to respond to risks and supply chain disruption.
The SCBGP funds are allocated to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. Interested applicants should apply directly through their state departments of agriculture. A listing of state contacts is available on the USDA website.
Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 11, 2021. Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application. For more information about grant eligibility, visit the SCBGP website.