DATCP: Specialty crop grant applications due June 30

Contact: Mike Bandli, 608-224-5136

Lora Klenke, 608-224-5119

MADISON — If you have an idea to make Wisconsin’s specialty crops more competitive in the domestic or international marketplace, it just might qualify for a grant to help turn that idea into reality.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection will accept applications until 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, for grants under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funded by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, commonly known as the Farm Bill. Specialty Crops Competitiveness funding is available for projects to benefit the specialty crops industry as a whole. Single organizations, institutions or individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. Projects that profit only one commercial product or one business or organization will not be considered.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants. For a complete updated list of acceptable crops, see http://www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp.

There is $49 million available nationwide to be awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to states. Individual state allocations are not yet known. The state agriculture department will select applications from those submitted to be included in one state plan for USDA approval. It is anticipated that approval will be received and projects will be able to begin in late fall or early winter.

Projects may be new or continuing, last up to three years, and receive up to $100,000 to pay for personnel, consultants, subcontractors, materials and supplies, specialized equipment and other capital expenditures, and miscellaneous costs such as telephone service, meetings, and publications. The USDA encourages projects that pertain to the following issues:

* Increasing knowledge and consumption of specialty crops

* Improving costs and efficiency of distribution

* Helping develop good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices throughout the distribution chain

* Research including organic research focusing on conservation and environmental outcomes

* Food safety

* New and improved seed varieties and crops

* Pest and disease control

* Sustainability

Examples of acceptable projects might be a proposal by a commodity group or university to research the feasibility of planting, cultivating and growing a specialty crop in a particular area, with the results available to many growers statewide, or a project to improve and expand farmers’ markets to benefit a wide array of specialty crop producers.

Complete application materials are available online at http://www.datcp.state.wi.us. For questions about the grant program or completing the application, contact Mike Bandli, [email protected], 608-224-5136; or Lora Klenke, [email protected], 608-224-5119.