A total of $72.9 million is being made available through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grant funding is aimed at supporting and further expanding the specialty crop sector through various types of projects. Funding support is also meant to explore new market opportunities for American agricultural products.
The SCBGP is made possible through the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004. The overall program is managed by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Funds from the program are allocated based on considerations that include acreage and production value of specialty crops. State departments of agriculture are tasked with administering the grant funding to eligible projects. States and territories will have until May 3 to submit applications electronically. Those interested in applying for the grant support are encouraged to work directly with their state department of agriculture.
“These specialty crop block grants will help states and territories target resources locally to increase the competitiveness of the specialty crops sector and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research,” USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a press release. “Since 2006 when the program began, USDA has invested more than $953 million through these block grants to fund nearly 11,000 projects that increased the long-term success of producers and created new and better markets for specialty crops in the U.S. and abroad.”
AMS defines specialty crops as both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, as well as horticulture and nursery crops, which includes floriculture. Awards issued through the program as made for a period of up to three years. AMS is encouraging applications for projects that serve smaller farming operations, disadvantaged or underserved producers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and veteran producers. State departments of agriculture are also being encouraged to conduct outreach with stakeholders and engage potential beneficiaries when developing projects and applications.