Deadline for Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Proposals Approaching

Posted: February 2, 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will accept proposals through February 23 for projects that increase the visibility and competitiveness of the state’s fruit and vegetable, nursery, horticultural and nut products.

The proposals are part of a two-phase competitive process for the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Pennsylvania has a rich history of diversity in its agricultural crops and a strong spirit of innovation across its agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “But consumer demands are shifting, the marketplace is changing, and Pennsylvania has the opportunity to move ahead, especially in the production of our specialty crops. I welcome all who have ideas for improving the industry to submit them for funding consideration.”

Commodities that meet the definition of specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticultural products, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants and nursery crops, including floricultural ones.

Applicants must submit a concept paper for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through market development, technology innovation, food safety, nutrition knowledge, sustainable practices and pest management. Concept papers should be approximately three pages in length and cover project purpose; estimated timeline; goals, objectives and expected measurable outcomes; work plan; and budget.

Requests may be made for a minimum of $20,000, provided that the amount reasonably represents the cost of the intended project.

Each project must have measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution or individual. Single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture administers the grant program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Proposals will be reviewed by a state-appointed specialty crop advisory board and approved by the state agriculture secretary. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal based on the concept paper, due April 14.

Last year, 20 projects were approved in Pennsylvania totaling more than $920,000. Projects addressed a range of priorities in the agriculture industry, including food safety, marketing, nutrition, succession planning and sustainability.

Concept papers must be received by 4 p.m. on February 24. Completed applications should be mailed to Morgan Sheffield, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Market Development, 2301 N. Cameron St., Room 310, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408.

For more information about the grant program, call 717-787-3568, email or visit and search “specialty crops.”