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USDA grant funding for specialty crops availableUSDA grant funding for specialty crops available

Iowa groups promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers need to apply before May 2.

March 21, 2016

3 Min Read

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week reminded Iowans that the deadline to apply for grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program is May 2.  The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.


The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the program, has reported that Iowa will receive $244,352.23 in funding this year. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant funds can support food safety, research and marketing efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose the products that are produced right here in our state,” Northey said.  “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.”

Reminder: specialty crop block grant applications due May 2
Grant funds shall be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community based organizations are all 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.

What kinds of “specialty crops” are eligible for this program?
Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months (2 ½ years). “Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.  Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.

Proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) on or before 4 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 2016. For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the state ag department’s website at IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.

IDALS is again establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the department. If you are interested in participating in the Review Committee, consider that you should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience, and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp

Applications to participate in this committee are due March 25, 2016 by 4 p.m.

Stakeholders asked to submit comments on program priorities
In addition, to ensure that 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 the department identify priorities; establish the criteria used to evaluate the projects proposed for funding, and to determine how the reviews are conducted.

Iowans interested in submitting comments about the program can do so online by emailing [email protected] or by mail to Horticulture and Farmers Market Bureau, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, 502 East 9th, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. Comments received by May 2, 2016 will be presented to the review committee to assist in prioritizing projects.

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant program has been a tremendous benefit to Iowa and it is important we understand the priorities of the specialty crop producers as we consider this year’s applications,” Northey said. “The public comments will allow us to hear from all segments of Iowa’s specialty crop industries and give them a means to participate in the decisions surrounding this program.”

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