The Oregon Department of Agriculture is now accepting concept proposals for project ideas as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Contact proposals must be submitted by Feb. 27 at noon Pacific Standard time.
About $1 million is available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, processors, commodity commissions, non-profits, for-profits, and local government agencies in the state.
ODA asks for two to three page proposals from applicants describing projects.
Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, nursery crops and other commodities not covered by large USDA programs, such as corn and wheat. Oregon is the fifth largest producer of specialty crops in the nation.
ODA will continue to fund projects in the following priorities for 2012:
Market development and access, both international and farm-direct/local
Product and varietal development
Innovation and productivity
Food safety and traceability
Certification and producer outreach including, but not limited to, Good Agricultural/Good Handling Practices, identity preserved, organic, sustainability or other market assurance programs will also be acceptable for project proposals.
Oregon's Specialty Crop Grant program has a two-phase competitive process. In April, an industry advisory board will evaluate concept proposals and make recommendations to the ODA's director on the selection of the top-ranked applicants.
Selected applicants will then be asked to submit full grant proposals for a second evaluation round. Projects selected for funding will be announced in October or November this year.
ODA and the advisory board are looking for innovative proposals and encourage interested parties to work regionally to submit collaborative project proposals that benefit Oregon growers and processors as well as partners in other states that share common specialty crops.