Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will make grants available to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.
The department is eligible to receive approximately $275,000 in grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which is run by USDA's Ag Marketing Service. This is the fourth of five Specialty Crop Block Grants authorized through the Farm Bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008).
"These 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," Northey says. "Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products."
Who is eligible to apply? What are amounts to be awarded?
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. Grant funds shall be used for projects that solely 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.
"Specialty Crops" that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
Proposals must be received by IDALS on or before 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2011. For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Iowa ag department's web site www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.
IDALS putting together a grant application review committee
The Iowa Department of Agriculture is also establishing a review committee, to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the department. Anyone interested in participating in the 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 be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp. Applications to participate in the reviewer committee are due by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 1, 2011.