Illinois Department of Agriculture now accepting specialty crop
block grant proposals
Applications due March 23rd
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[March 18, 2023]
In an effort to expand the availability
of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness
of the state’s specialty crop industry, the Illinois Department of
Agriculture (IDOA) plans to distribute more than $544,000 over a
three-year period thanks to funding allocated in the Specialty Crop
Block Grant Program in the Farm Bill.
for grant funding is available on the Illinois Department of
Agriculture website and must be returned to the Department by
11:59 pm on March 23, 2023. To be eligible for funding, all
projects must begin in calendar year 2024.
Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, local and
government entities, trade and commodity associations, public
and private colleges/universities. Illinois encourages
applications benefiting smaller farms and ranches, new and
beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged
producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities.
To encourage further expansion of this industry, and to take
full advantage of the allocated federal funds, the Department
invites the development of projects pertaining to the following
issues affecting the specialty crop industry:
capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution
chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety
Modernization Act, for example, by developing “Good
Agricultural Practices," “Good Handling Practices,” “Good
Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for
funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers
specialty crop research, including research to focus on
conservation and environmental outcomes.
growth of organic specialty crops.
Developing new and
improved seed varieties and specialty crops.
Improving pest and
Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and
consumption of specialty crops.
efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.
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Projects that benefit a particular commercial product
or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or
individual are ineligible. Farmers markets, roadside stands and
community-sponsored agriculture programs should consider submitting
proposals to the USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service defines specialty crops as
“fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and
nursery crops (including floriculture).” There are more than 3,200
producers devoting more than 90,000 acres of Illinois farmland to
specialty crops production, creating nearly $472 million in annual
sales for Illinois farmers. Nationally, Illinois ranks first for
pumpkin and horseradish production and is in the top ten in the
production of asparagus, cauliflower, fresh-cut herbs, peas, mustard
greens, and lima beans.
Additional information about the program can be found online at the
Department’s website and/or by contacting AGR.ISCBG@illinois.gov.
Applications must be submitted to the Department no later than 11:59
pm, March 23, 2023.
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