USDA Specialty Crop Competitive Grant Program

For all the details:

Submission deadline  for the 2012 round of grant funding: April 2, 2012

On December 21, 2004, the  Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note) authorized the  Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide grants to State departments of  agriculture solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.  The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of  2008 (Farm Bill) amended the Specialty Crops Competiveness Act of 2004 and  authorized the USDA to provide grants to States for each of the fiscal years 2008  through 2012 to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Each State that submits an  application that is reviewed and approved by the Agricultural Marketing Service  (AMS) is to receive at least an amount that is equal to the higher of $100,000,  or 1/3 of 1 percent of the total amount of funding made available for that  fiscal year. In addition, AMS will allocate the remainder of the grant funds  based on the value of specialty crop production in each state in relation to  the national value of specialty crop production using the latest available cash  receipt data.

In an effort to reach specialty crop  initiatives throughout the state, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and  Consumer Services (VDACS) established a competitive grant process for these  funds.  Based on previous funding cycles,  VDACS expects to administer funds  totaling approximately $500,000 for the development of Specialty Crop projects  that will support and enhance the competitiveness of Specialty Crops in Virginia.  VDACS will accept grant proposals with a value  of up to $30,000.  Once all  proposals are submitted to VDACS, each will be carefully reviewed and evaluated  based on the criteria listed in this application.  All VDACS-approved projects will then be  developed into one grant submission to the USDA.  Upon approval from USDA, VDACS will notify  applicants (sub-grantees) of their status.   No final awards to any sub-grantee will be made until a final grant  award is made to VDACS (grantor) by USDA.   Final approval is expected by October of 2012, but is subject to change.

Eligible Specialty Crops

Specialty crops are defined in law as  “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery  crops, including floriculture.” Specialty crops are plants that are intensively  cultivated. There are many plants that are specialty crops when cultivated, but  are also collected from wild populations. Wild plants are not considered  specialty crops even though they may be used for the same purpose as cultivated  plants.

Eligible Applicants

  • Applications will be accepted from agricultural associations, industry / producer groups, community based organizations, and academia that seek to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops in Virginia.
  • Applications for grant funds should describe how the project potentially impacts and produces measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual.

Submission deadline  for the 2012 round of grant funding: April 2, 2012

For more information, please contact Melissa Ball  Allensworth at

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