NSAC's Blog

Funding Available for Specialty Crops

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:

  • Increasing nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption among children and adults;
  • Improving efficiency within the distribution system;
  • Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors;
  • Supporting research through standard and green initiatives;
  • Enhancing food safety;
  • Developing new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
  • Controlling pests and diseases;
  • Creating organic and sustainable production practices;
  • Establishing local and regional fresh food systems;
  • Expanding access to specialty crops in underserved communities;
  • Developing school and community gardens and farm-to-school programs; or
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers

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.

For more information visit USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program webpage or contact Trista Etzig via phone at (202) 690-4942 or by e-mail: trista.etzig@ams.usda.gov.



Categories: Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access

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