Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MDA requesting specialty crop grant proposals

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting grant proposals for specialty crop research and development.  A federal block grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service was authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and the MDA anticipates funds for farmers.  The goal of the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program is to increase specialty crop competitiveness.

The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Non-profits, government agencies, universities and other organizations involved in Minnesota agriculture are encouraged to apply for funding to support new and on-going innovative research. MDA is seeking proposals spanning up to three years and ranging from $10,000 - $100,000.

SCBG projects may not benefit individual businesses or organizations. “These are not business development grants, the funds must address sector-wide opportunities or barriers,” said MDA program manager, Brian Erickson.

MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson makes a strong case for continued support of diversifying our agricultural economy, “Specialty crop production and marketing provides opportunities for Minnesota farmers to diversify their operations.” Frederickson said, “Research into production and marketing of non-traditional agricultural products will benefit many Minnesotans.”

Examples include nursery and turf crops, direct-marketed fruits and vegetables, and investments directed toward the development of the local food systems to help get those products from farm to table. MDA is accepting applications from eligible entities submitted electronically by 4:00 p.m. April 30, 2014.

Project review will be provided by an independent panel with experience growing, marketing, researching and promoting specialty crops.

For a copy of the Minnesota Specialty Crop Block Grant RFP/Grant Manual, grant application guidance and a fillable application form, go to