Jan 23, 2023$73 million in specialty crop grants boost competitiveness
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $72.9 million through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to fund projects designed to support the expanding specialty crop sector and explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is accepting applications for the grant program until May 1.
Through the SCBGP, AMS will issue noncompetitive grants to state departments of agriculture or equivalent in the 50 States, District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). SCBGP funds are allocated to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. SCBGP is funded through the 2018 Farm Bill.
USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt announced the grants at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo on Jan. 21.
“This continued funding for specialty crop block grants will help states and territories pinpoint local needs of their specialty crop sectors and support producers which will in turn increase the availability of specialty crops throughout the nation,” USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a news release. “Since 2006 when the program began, USDA has invested more than $1 billion through these block grants to fund nearly 12,000 projects that increased the long-term competitiveness of the specialty crop industry and created new and better markets for specialty crop producers selling both in the U.S. and abroad.”
“Our specialty crop industry is a robust part of our region’s economic prowess, especially at an institution like Cal Poly San Luis Obispo – which has benefited from these block grants in the past to support its cutting-edge agricultural research,” Congressman Salud Carbajal said in the release. “The Central Coast’s farms and farmworkers produce the fruits, vegetables and other crops that feed our nation and the world – and these funds will help sustain and grow that important market here and across our state.”
AMS encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities. Interested applicants should apply directly through their state departments of agriculture. A list of state contacts is available on the SCBGP website.
Applications from states and territories must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1. The Request for Applications is posted on the AMS SCBGP webpage. 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. More information is available in the AMS Late and Non-Responsive Application Policy.
Photo: Peppers and cucumbers are on display by vendors at the USDA Market in July 2016, in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung