USDA offers grants for specialty crops

MONTGOMERY, AL – The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) is accepting grant applications for projects that enhance the competitiveness of United States specialty crops in foreign and domestic markets. The application deadline for these specialty crop block grants through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is May 3.

Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture (including maple syrup and honey) and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Commodity groups, agricultural organizations, colleges and universities, producers, municipalities, state agencies and agricultural nonprofits are all eligible for this grant program, provided their proposals meet all the specifications. The USDA has final approval for projects submitted. The ADAI and a review panel of industry representatives will make the initial review and award recommendations.

The specialty crops block grant is a competitive grant process. The maximum award to any applicant is $50,000 and the minimum is $5,000. The ADAI is looking to award multiple grants totaling more than $350,000.

Projects cannot begin until the USDA has made its official award announcement, expected in October 2010. A project can last for up to three years, but the proposal must justify its timeline. Projects with shorter time frames are encouraged. No extensions of any kind are allowed.

For more information, visit

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries: