CropWatch March 5, 2010: Nebraska Department of Ag Offers Specialty Crop Grants

CropWatch March 5, 2010: Nebraska Department of Ag Offers Specialty Crop Grants

March 5, 2010

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is again seeking grant proposals from organizations or groups of individuals interested in enhancing the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

“Specialty crop production continues to be an important segment of Nebraska’s agricultural industry,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “As our state’s specialty crop production continues to grow, we encourage those involved to look into the opportunities available through this grant program.”

NDA is requesting grant proposals as part of its effort to develop a state plan for the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The USDA program was created by Congress in 2004. For the 2010 funding cycle, NDA can receive up to $352,417 for specialty crop projects, but must submit a state plan detailing how the funds will be used.

NDA will administrate a two-phase competitive grant application process to determine what projects are to be included in the state plan. Phase one will involve the submission of concept proposals. The proposals will allow the applicants to explain the main points of their project. The concept proposals will be competitively ranked and scored, with the top proposals asked to complete the second phase of the application process. Those proposals that are selected for the state plan will also be reviewed by USDA. Concept proposals are due to NDA by April 29.

According to USDA guidelines, eligible projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and may focus on: research, knowledge, consumption, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant pest and disease control, organic and sustainable production practices, among other opportunities. Proposals must show the project will benefit the specialty crop industry or a segment of the industry as a whole; proposals that will profitably benefit one organization or individual will not be accepted.

Grant proposal guidelines and application information are available through NDA by calling (800) 422-6692, or e-mailing casey.foster@nebraska.gov. Further information on the process is available on the  NDA Web site or for more information visit the USDA Web site.

NDA News Release