Maine DACF Seeks Specialty Crop Proposals
February 25, 2019
For more information, contact: Leigh Hallett at 207-287-3494
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is accepting proposals for US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG). DACF anticipates awarding approximately $500,000 in 2019. The Department's Agricultural Resource Development Division administers the program, and is the point of contact for Maine applicants.
Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has awarded nearly $6 million in Maine to support the growing number of specialty crop producers who are selling into local and regional markets. The program provides federal funding to projects identified as critical at the local level. Projects should enhance the competitiveness of Maine-grown specialty crops.
Commodity groups, agricultural organizations, educational institutions, municipalities, producers, and state agencies are eligible. Each spring, the Department accepts applications and evaluates proposals through a competitive process. The Department submits its recommended proposals to USDA, and approved projects typically start in the fall.
Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)." Recent awards have supported research into new plant varieties, development of pest management strategies, technology innovations, school initiatives, and food safety projects. Funds have been used to improve harvests of blueberries, potatoes, maple syrup, hops, honey, and other crops.
Awards are for one year only, but may be submitted for consideration for additional funding in subsequent years. Annual reports, regular invoices, and regular project updates are requirements of the program.
Organizations of any size are eligible to apply for the grants, provided their projects serve multiple producers. The Department's priority areas for 2019 are as follows:
- Ongoing funding for multi-year projects; these projects must submit a new proposal and demonstrate progress from the first year's funding in the work plan;
- Enhancing food safety education, primarily in relation to new FDA rules regarding improved handling and processing of specialty crops;
- Enhancing integrated pest management research and education for programs for specialty crops;
- Research and demonstration of systems to market and distribute specialty crops to institutions;
- Domestic and international market expansion of Maine specialty crops.
Proposals are due by March 27th.
For further information and assistance on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, please contact: Leigh Hallett 207-287-3494, Leigh.Hallett@maine.gov