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USDA grants set to help specialty crops

By Staff | Apr 30, 2010

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is eligible to receive approximately $275,000 in grant funds through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and will use the funds to make grants available to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.

Proposals must be received by the Department on or before 4 p.m. on May 21. For more information visit the Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department’s web site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov.

The Department will receive the funds from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

“Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products,” Northey said. “These federal funds are available to support food safety, research and marketing efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose the products that are produced right here in our state.”

Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups are all eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

In addition, partnerships and universities may participate in the grant program by developing and submitting proposals through an eligible applicant.

Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $20,000. Administrative and indirect costs are not allowed.

“Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

The Department also recently announced that specialty crop stakeholders are encouraged to consider submitting public comment to identify their priorities for the Program and is also establishing a new Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the Department.

Iowans interested in learning more about the program or submitting comment about the program can email horticultureAndFarmersMarket@iowaAgriculture.gov.

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