Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Request for Applications Announced

February 8, 2022

For more information contact: Leigh Hallett at: SpecialtyCropBlockGrant@Maine.gov

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Bureau of Agriculture seeks Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) program applications from Maine's specialty crop industry to present for funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is anticipated to be the only SCBG RFA for 2022.

The SCBG program is specifically designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Funds will be awarded through a competitive review process. Grant awards will be for a two-year term.

Priority areas: Each SCBG RFA includes priority areas. Proposals that directly align with one or more priority areas receive additional points in the scoring process and are more likely to receive a grant award. The priority areas for the 2022 SCBG RFA are below (see RFA for more details and examples):

  1. Any application from the previous year which was for a multiple-year term and was only funded for the first year of the project. For those projects that fit under this category, they must submit a new proposal and show progress from the first year's funding in the work plan section of the proposal.
  2. Projects that enhance food safety education, primarily in relation to FDA rules regarding improved handling and processing of specialty crops.
  3. Projects to enhance soil and biotic health to improve pest management and biodiversity.
  4. Projects that market Maine specialty crops to diversified and expanded markets, or that research potential market expansion efforts and strategies.
  5. Projects that improve adaptation and increase resilience to climate-related crop disturbances in support of long-term farm business vitality and productivity.

Agricultural organizations, educational institutions, commodity groups, municipalities, and producers may download the 2022 SCBG application by searching under DACF online on the DAFS Procurement Services website. The application deadline is March 8, 2022.

Maine's 2021 SCBG awards supported numerous projects, including to support the organization of a Maine cut flower collective, expanding marketing and infrastructure for the wild blueberry sparkling wine industry, providing technical assistance to farms for compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act, and exploring fertilizers and soil amendments to improve wild blueberry resilience.

Please consult the RFA for more information. Questions may be submitted by February 15, 2022 to SpecialtyCropBlockGrant@Maine.gov; responses will be published by February 22, 2022.