April 17, 2014
Today USDA announced the availability of $66 million through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBG) to fund projects related to the research, marketing, and development of specialty crops. The funding is available to State Departments of Agriculture, which must apply for funding and then use it to supplement state programs or make grants.
SCBG is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, and horticulture and nursery crops. SCBG can be used to support a wide array of projects, including farm to school initiatives, farmer food safety training, food hub development, and processing businesses, as long as the projects are focused on fruits and vegetables.
Applicants are encouraged to develop projects that address the competitiveness of specialty crops, the livelihood of American farmers, and the strength of rural economies. Projects that focus on the following outcomes will be given priority:
Interested applicants should apply directly to their State Departments of Agriculture. Several states have already published their requests for proposals (available here: FY 2014 State Requests for Proposals).
The 2014 Farm Bill increased the funding for SCBG, and the amount allocated to each state is now determined based on a formula that considers the specialty crop acreage and production value within the state. As a result of the the increase in overall program funding, each state will receive additional funding. The specific amount allocated to each state is listed here. The farm bill also specified funding for multi-state projects, with $1 million designated for FY 2014, but today’s USDA’s announcement did not mention this multi-state component.