Michigan is looking to advance its specialty crop program and is requesting proposals for everything from market expansion and research to help with COVID-19-related disruptions and farm sustainability.
Designed to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan's specialty crops, USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program allows for 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. Specialty crops are defined as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops [including floriculture]."
Grant proposals must be emailed to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at [email protected] by 3 p.m. Feb. 24.
The awarded grants are funded by traditional farm bill funding or HR 133 funding. USDA is encouraging HR 133 funding to be COVID-related, noting anything traditionally allowable under the farm bill funding is permitted. MDARD welcomes proposals on COVID-19-related disruptions affecting the specialty crop industry. The program's funding priorities are:
- market enhancement to promote specialty crops
- market expansion, availability and access to specialty crops
- farm to institution
- research and development relevant to specialty crops
- plant health and pest management
- farm sustainability
- training and education addressing local, regional and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers
- enhancing food safety
- environmental sustainability
- workforce or labor
Acceptable proposal activities include, but are 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.
Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations; local, state and federal government entities; and for-profit organizations. The organizations must be legal entities recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, and applicants must reside or conduct their business in Michigan.
Proposals should demonstrate how the project will potentially produce measurable impacts for the specialty crop industry as a whole, and not benefit only a specific product or a single organization, institution or individual.
For program information, application form and submission criteria, visit michigan.gov/mdardgrants. At the bottom of the page, click on the Specialty Crop Block tab.