The California Department of Food and Agriculture will make more than $22 million in block grants for specialty crops available, thanks to a program funded through the 2014 Farm Bill.
The 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) provides competitive grants ranging from $50,000 to $450,000 to non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities.
The SCBGP provides grants to state departments of agriculture to fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).
The CDFA will fund 72 projects through a competitive bid process. The goals include:
- Increase sales of specialty crops by leveraging the California Grown identity;
- Increase consumption through expansion of the specialty crop consumer market;
- Improve availability and providing nutritional education for consumers;
- Train and equip growers for current and future challenges; and,
- Conduct research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.
CDFA is continuing its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety through the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These projects represent an ongoing effort to address food safety practices and minimize outbreaks of foodborne illness with proactive research.
Additionally, CDFA is introducing fixed amount awards to fund projects addressing two urgent priorities in specialty crop agriculture: helping farmers meet Food Safety Modernization Act standards; and helping them adapt to California’s historic drought with methods that reduce water use or improve efficiency.
The 2016 SCBGP project abstracts are available online