June 28, 2017
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Specialty Crop Multistate Program (SCMP), a component of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Approximately $7 million will be available to fund projects from state departments of agriculture on a competitive basis, which will in turn award grants to collaborative, multi-state projects that address the following regional or national specialty crop issues:
In particular, AMS is encouraging proposals that will:
Of those proposal categories, only the first one – projects that will improve capacity for FSMA compliance – will be given priority status.
Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), SCMP funds projects that foster the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” To be considered specialty crops, crops also must be used for consumption, medicinal value, or aesthetic value.
The minimum award size is $250,000 and the maximum award size is $1,000,000,000. Awarded projects must be completed within three years.
SCMP projects must be developed by multi-state partnerships working on innovative solutions that benefit specialty crop growers in multiple states. Multi-state partners can include, but are not limited to:
While multi-state partnerships can be made up of various types of organizations, only state departments of agriculture are eligible to apply for SCMP awards. To be eligible to do so, state departments of agriculture must first notify the USDA that they would like to participate. State departments of agriculture must inform AMS of their participation status by July 11, 2017.
Participating state departments of agriculture help administer SCMP projects by, for example: handling inquiries from the public, developing internal procedures to screen applications for eligibility under the RFA, and accepting administrative responsibility for those applications ultimately selected for funding.
Multi-state partners are required to submit applications determined to meet the terms of the RFA to participating states. The deadline for applications to be submitted to participating states is September 25, 2017. Participating states will then submit the applications, after review to ensure they meet the requirements of the RFA, to AMS via www.grants.gov. The deadline for applications to be submitted to AMS is October 24, 2017.
A participating state department of agriculture that develops its own proposal can submit it directly to AMS along with other proposals determined to meet the RFA requirements. Non-participating state departments of agriculture must submit their proposals to a participating state department of agriculture, which can in turn submit the proposal to AMS if it meets the RFA requirements. An entity other than a state department of agriculture may develop a SCMP proposal, but only a participating state department of agriculture may submit the proposal to AMS.
SCMP and Food Safety Training and Outreach
Created in the 2014 Farm Bill, SCMP includes food safety as a focus area for funding to assist farmers and local and regional food processors in developing and following food safety practices that will comply with new FSMA regulations. In addition to programs like the Food Safety Outreach Program, SCMP can function as a critical source of funding for projects serving the food safety training and outreach needs of producers and local and regional food processors.
Among the types of projects that may be funded by SCMP are those that:
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is pleased to see the adoption of many of our recommendations in the SCMP RFA, including recommendations that projects:
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