California led the nation in the amount of funding received through the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). Of the more than $72 million that the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded nationwide through the program, California accounted for $22.6 million of the total amount of grant funding.
The SCBGP awards funding to state departments of agriculture in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and five U.S. territories. The grants are used as a means to support the competitiveness of specialty crops such as fruits, tree nuts, vegetables, nursery crops, and horticulture. Funding is meant to be used on agricultural extension activities, research and other programs aimed at increasing demand and overall value of agricultural goods.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is set to fund 83 different projects, with grant awards ranging from $25,000 to $300,000. The projects that received funding were divided into categories such as plant health and pest management, specialty crop access and nutrition education, equipping current and next generation specialty crop farmers, environmental stewardship and conservation, and food safety. Fixed amount awards were also given to assist in the preparation of the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.
Grant recipients included non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, along with colleges and universities. As part of the ongoing efforts to increase the success of food safety practices and protocols, CDFA continued its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety which assisted in the evaluation of projects related to food safety.
CDFA is currently accepting proposals for the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Applicants will need to register online using the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) in order to submit an application. Proposals will need to be submitted through FAAST no later than November 2, 2018, by 5 pm.