N.C. Department of Agriculture offers Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting grant proposals from nonprofits and government agencies through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The program aims to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. It is managed by the department and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the 2014 farm bill. Last year, the department awarded nearly $1.2 million to fund 17 projects across the state. The department expects to see increased funding under the new farm bill.

 “National funding for specialty crop grants has increased to $72.5 million with this farm bill,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We expect to see an increase in money allocated to North Carolina as well because the state has such a diversity of specialty crops.”

The department will accept grant requests ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Grants are not available for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. The application deadline is 5 p.m. May 2.

Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture and horticulture crops. Funding is also available for projects aimed at developing local and regional food systems and improving food access.

For grant guidelines and an application, go to www.NCSpecialtyCropGrant.org. For more information, contact marketing specialist Jeff Camden at 919-707-3111, SpecialtyCropGrant@ncagr.gov or Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020.