The Washington State Department of Agriculture says federal funds will be available to enhance the state's fruit, vegetable and nursery industries.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $3 million to Washington through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill.
Private and non-profit organizations, commodity commissions and other public entities may request funds for projects of $25,000-$250,000 that benefit the competitiveness of fruit, vegetable, nursery and turfgrass producers. All projects must be finished in under three years.
The first step in applying for grant funding is to submit a brief pre-proposal to WDSA. The submittal should be e-mailed to the department at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be reviewed by the agency, and successful applicants will be asked to submit full proposals for further review.
Pre-proposals are due Jan. 23.
Applicant information and forms are available at WSDA's website at agr.wa.gov/grants/scbgp.
For more information on the program, lists of eligible products and the federal requirements, go to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service website at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp, or contact Rianne Perry (360) 902-2177 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Based on feedback from Washington's specialty crop industries, WSDA is seeking projects that improve food safety, develop organic and sustainable production methods, promote domestic and international markets, control pests and diseases and protect the environment including water, labor and land.
Projects that benefit Washington's specialty crop producers in other ways are also encouraged.
Each project must demonstrate benefits for the specialty crop industry and must not assist just q single producer or company. Projects that benefit Washington in addition to other states are encouraged, as are projects that benefit new farmers or socially disadvantaged producers.
Matching funds are not required.
Washington is the third leading producer of specialty crops in the nation, which includes being the No. 1 grower of apples, cherries, raspberries, hops, spearmint oil and many other commodities.
Last October, WSDA announced distribution of $3.1 million to fund 20 projects benefiting the state's specialty crops. The list may be viewed at www.agr.wa.gov/Grants/docs/2011AwardAbstacts/pdf/.