Specialty crop block grants available

Specialty crop block grants available

Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:02 pm

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
These funds will help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery crops including floriculture. Administered by TDA, the grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
“As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables and other products increases, specialty crops are growing in importance and will continue to have a significant impact on Tennessee’s farm economy,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens. “These grants will fund innovation, research and training that will help keep our farms viable.”
Proposals are divided into three main categories:
• Good Ag Practices/Food Safety/Traceability
This category includes, but is not limited to training, specialized equipment and facilities needed to incorporate GAPs, GMPs and/or specialty crop traceability.
• Farmers Markets/Wholesale Produce
This category includes, but is not limited to, cool storage, distribution and handling needs. A priority is establishing wholesale produce auctions.
•Innovative Specialty Crop Projects
This category includes, but is not limited to, on-farm needs that enhance marketing, production, packing and/or distribution of specialty crops.
Tennessee is eligible for more than $517,000 in federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds to support grower education, infrastructure needs, food safety and marketing. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for project funding for up to $50,000.
Eligible projects must be forward thinking and demonstrate a positive impact on Tennessee agriculture and demonstrate significant potential for increasing farm income through the improvement or expansion of farm or agribusiness operations involving the production of specialty crop products. Demonstration of long-term benefits is also required.
Proposals must be delivered to TDA no later than May 21. Proposal requirements and other information can be found at http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/marketing/produce.html. Once proposals are received, a panel will review and rank them according to the criteria provided. Applicants who submit a project will be notified by June 18 if TDA intends to present the project to USDA for funding.
For more information regarding the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, contact Rob Beets at (615) 837-5160 or Robert.Beets@TN.gov.
Published in The Messenger 4.27.10

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