Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announces USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants for up to $75 thousand

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Posted at 10:44 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 10:44:50-05

VIRGINIA - The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has announced that they have nearly $600 thousand in federal funding towards the development of specialty crops.

Those who are looking to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops are eligible to apply for grants up to $75 thousand per project.

According to the VDACS, specialty crops are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops, including floriculture, that are not typically covered by the traditional crop insurance. Specialty crops don’t include standard commodities such as corn, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, cotton or tobacco. Processed foods are eligible, provided their development enhances the competitiveness of one or more specialty crops.

“Specialty Crop Block Grant funds are a great tool for implementing Governor Glenn Youngkin’s priorities of expanding local economic development opportunities and improving food access throughout the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew Lohr.

Agricultural associations, industry and producer groups, localities, community-based organizations, educational institutions, and non-profits may submit applications to VDACS for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grants.

Individual producers are not eligible for this grant.

Proposals for the grant must be specific and explain how the funds will be used to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lists some examples as research, promotion and marketing plans, as well as food safety projects and projects that improve food access.

When choosing who to award the grant to, VDACS is giving priority to projects that focuses on improving competitiveness, as well as, the following issues: enhancing food safety; improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act and in cost-share arrangements for finding audits of such systems (including USDA GroupGAP) for small farmers, packers and processors; investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; improving pest and disease control; increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; and enhancing sustainability.

Each grant lasts two years and will begin on October 1, 2022.

A proposal must be submitted and the deadline for those applications is 5 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2022.

The guidelines, instructions, and the application for the USDA Specialty Crop Competitive Grants is available here.