The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), beginning Sept. 1, will seek project proposals from Indiana’s specialty crop industry for funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This special round of funding is provided by congressional COVID-19 stimulus funding. Eligible projects must provide industry relief for the impact of COVID-19 and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Indiana, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops.
“This additional funding is a welcomed surprise from USDA for our specialty crop growers,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “I am looking forward to this agriculture sector advancing research, market development, education and training as well as seeing how this industry will best mitigate COVID-19 risks.”
The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program offers federal funding annually to the state departments of agriculture to support their specialty crop industries. USDA has allocated an additional $644,100 to Indiana for this program this year.
Applicants can include non-profit and for-profit organizations, governments and public or private colleges and universities. Special consideration will be given to non-traditional applicant organizations, such as local non-profit and for-profit organizations and governments. Funding will not be awarded to projects that benefit a particular commercial product, or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.
Projects should explain how they will relieve an impact of COVID-19 on the specialty crop industry and identify at least one expected measurable outcome that specifically demonstrates the project’s impact on enhancing the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops. Applicants are encouraged to develop projects focused on issues such as enhancing food safety, pest and disease control, increasing organic production practices and sustainable growing methods, and developing local and regional food systems. Additional scoring points will be awarded to projects that benefit beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.
ISDA’s funding priority will focus on three main areas:
- Funding Area I: Market Enhancement
- Funding Area II: Access, Education and Training
- Funding Area III: Research
“Indiana’s specialty crop sector is significant for our agriculture industry and this additional funding is a great opportunity for specialty crop growers,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler. “I would encourage anyone interested to apply and leverage this generous opportunity.”
Applications open on Sept. 1, 2021 and are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 7, 2021. Proposals must be submitted online through the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s Grants Management System.