The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently announced a request for proposals through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from USDA Ag Marketing Services.
The program is designed to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan’s specialty crops. Grant proposals must be emailed to MDARD at MDAfirstname.lastname@example.org by 3 p.m. Feb. 27.
Specialty crops are defined as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)."
Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations; local, state and federal government entities; and for-profit organizations. The organizations must be legal entities recognized by the IRS, and applicants must reside or conduct their business in Michigan.
Proposals should demonstrate how the project will potentially produce measurable effects for the specialty crop industry as a whole, and not benefit only a specific product or a single organization, institution or individual.
The grants have a maximum award of $100,000 for research proposals, and $125,000 for marketing, training and education proposals designed to enhance the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crops — including but not limited to promotion; marketing; research; nutrition; trade enhancement; food safety; food security; plant health programs; education; increased knowledge and consumption; increased innovation; improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems; environmental concerns and conservation; product development; good agricultural practices; good handling practices; and good manufacturing practices.
Funding priority will be given to projects with a focus on market enhancement (market expansion and access, and farm to institution); research (health, pest management, farm sustainability); and training and education (food safety, environmental sustainability, workforce or labor).
For program information, an application form and submission criteria, visit michigan.gov/mdardgrants.