USDA opens specialty block grants - American Nurseryman Magazine - Horticulture Magazine and Horticulture Books - USDA opens specialty block grants

USDA opens specialty block grants


The USDA has just announced the availabity of approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of ag for projects that help suport specialty crop growers - including nursery products - through research, programs to increase demand and more.

The historic support provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), will strengthen rural American communities by supporting local and regional markets. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Serivce (AMS), is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

As directed by the Farm Bill, the block grants are now allocated to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and producution value. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds.

The AMS would like to see applicants develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen rural economies by: 
  • Improving efficiency within the distribution system
  • Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors
  • Supporting research through standard and green initatives
  • Developing new/improved seed varieites and specialty crops
  • Controlling pests and diseases
  • Creating organic and sustainable production practices
  • Expanding access to specialty crops in underserved communities
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers
Interested applicants shoujld apply directly to their state department of agriculture; the list ofFY 2014 State Requests for Proposals is available on the AMS website.