Specialty crops offer new income opportunities for farmers, but getting started can be a challenge. USDA offers the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to help; in Nevada, about $250,000 is expected to be awarded, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The program funds will be used to promote and enhance the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crops.
Defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, legumes, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture),” the grant program covers a wide range of options. According to Alexa Johnson, agriculturist at NDA, “Many people may not know it, but Nevada producers grow a variety of specialty crops. The purpose of this grant is to help projects that research or promote Nevada-grown specialty crops and ultimately make them more available.”
These funds have been put to a wide range of use in the state in the past. The range of projects established include projects with the Desert Farming Initiative’s research and development practices for growing different specialty crops in the state, and education and increased sales through the Reno Garlic Fest.
Requirements to meet
There are some rules surrounding use of the grant program. Project proposals that promote and enhance specialty crops through research, marketing, education and production must have multiple beneficiaries and may not be used to benefit only one individual or organization.
Individual agricultural producers, nonprofit and tribal organizations, minority groups, disadvantaged farmers, agricultural associations, industry groups, community-based organizations and academic institutions are encouraged to apply.
There are two deadlines for this program. First are letters of intent, which are due to NDA by March 20. This is key, since the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has specific requirements for these programs to qualify for the grants. Full application proposals are due to NDA by April 20. The request for proposals, past funded projects and more information can be found at this NDA website.