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Iowa Ag News Headlines
Grants Available to Help Promote Specialty Crops
Iowa Ag Connection - 02/12/2019

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.

"The Specialty Crop Block Grant program allows farmers to focus on areas that help them expand their business," said Naig. "Specialty crops are an example of value added agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products."

Grant funds shall be used for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. These projects can include marketing and promotions, research and development, expanding availability and access to specialty crops and addressing local, regional and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community-based organizations are all eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In addition, single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months. The final funding level for the 2019 Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is yet to be announced by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, administer of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Funding for the 2018 Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grand was $334,269.77.

Specialty Crops that are eligible under this program include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible. Proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on or before 4 p.m. on March 1. For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department's website at https://bit.ly/2SrPGoJ.

The Department is again establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the Department. Those interested in participating in the Review Committee should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at https://bit.ly/2SrPGoJ.

In addition, to ensure that funds are used in the most efficient manner possible, the Department is asking specialty crop stakeholders and organizations to submit public comments on program priorities. The comments will help the Department identify priorities, establish the criteria used to evaluate the projects proposed for funding, and to determine how the reviews are conducted.

Iowans interested in submitting comments about the program can do so by emailing HorticultureAndFarmersMarkets@IowaAgriculture.gov or by mail to Horticulture and Farmers Market Bureau, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, 502 East 9th, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. Comments received by March 1 will be presented to the review committee to assist in prioritizing projects.

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