The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.
“The Specialty Crop Block Grant program allows farmers to focus on areas that help them expand their business,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Specialty crops are an example of value-added agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.”
Grant funds shall be used for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole. They will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.
The projects can include marketing and promotions, research and development, expansion of availability, and access to specialty crops, as well as addressing local, regional and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.
Who’s eligible for grants?
Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry and community-based organizations are eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In addition, single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.
Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000, and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months. The final funding level for the 2019 Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is yet to be announced by USDA’s Ag Marketing Service, which administers the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Funding for the 2018 Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grand was close to $334,270.
Specialty crops that are eligible for this program include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.
March 1 deadline
Proposals must be received by IDALS by 4 p.m. March 1. For more information, visit the Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grant program at iowaagriculture.gov.
In addition, to ensure the funds are used in the most efficient manner possible, IDALS is asking specialty crop stakeholders and organizations to submit public comments on program priorities. The comments will help identify priorities, establish criteria used to evaluate the projects proposed for funding, and determine how the reviews are conducted.
Iowans interested in submitting comments about the program can email HorticultureandFarmersMarkets@IowaAgriculture.gov or send a letter to Horticulture & Farmers Market Bureau, Iowa Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship, 502 E. Ninth, Des Moines, IA 50319. Comments received by March 1 will be presented to the review committee to assist in prioritizing projects.