Vegetables

Workshops to help Specialty Crop Block Grant applicants

Seminars to include an overview of the program, how to apply.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is holding instructional workshops this week as it seeks applications for the next round of Specialty Crop Block Grant funds, which are due Nov. 2.

The four workshops and two webinars all feature an overview of the program, a review of the concept proposal questions, a live demonstration of the online application system, and other information, according to a state news release.

The first workshop was held Tuesday morning in Merced. The others will be held as follows:

  • Sonoma Workshop: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Webinar 1: Thursday, October 11, 2018 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Los Angeles Workshop: Tuesday, October 16, 2018 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Webinar 2: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Sacramento Workshop: Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

All prospective SCBGP applicants are encouraged to participate. There is no cost to attend; however, space is limited and CDFA requests that attendees register in advance. To register, email [email protected] with your name and contact information, the workshop/webinar you would like to attend, and the number of seats required. Further details will be provided with confirmation of registration.

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA’s Office of Grants Administration at (916) 657-3231 or [email protected] for additional information.  

Each year, CDFA conducts a two-phase competitive solicitation process to award funds to projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). 

“This program is a very positive approach to enhancing California specialty crops through marketing; consumer education; grower training; and research in areas like conservation, environmental outcomes, invasive species, and sustainable production practices," CDFA spokesman Steve Lyle told Western Farm Press in an email. "We appreciate our ongoing partnership with the USDA in making this grant program possible. “

Phase I of the process begins with the submission of concept proposals, which undergo both an administrative review and a technical review. Successful applicants will be invited to submit a detailed grant proposal in Phase II of the process.

Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $450,000 per project and projects may last for up to two years and six months. Non-profit and for-profit organizations; local, state, federal, and tribal government entities; and public and private colleges and universities are eligible to apply. All applicants must register online with the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST), https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov, to apply. Concept proposals must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at 5 pm PST.

Visit CDFA's SCBGP website, www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants, for full details. Review the 2019 Request for Concept Proposals for detailed application instructions.

Review panel seeks members

The CDFA is also looking for volunteers with knowledge and expertise regarding California's specialty crop industry to serve as reviewers on the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Technical Review Committee. This committee reviews, evaluates, and makes recommendations to CDFA on proposals submitted for funding to California’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).

The SCBGP is a competitive solicitation process designed to enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $450,000 per project and projects may last for up to two years and six months.

The Technical Review Committee consists of representatives from government and non-government organizations. Technical Review Committee members will attend one training webinar in November and one in-person review in March 2019 to make recommendations on concept and grant proposals.

All individuals interested in serving on the Technical Review Committee must submit a completed application form and a copy of their résumé to [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. Please reference page two of the application form for requirements and restrictions.

Within the form, applicants must identify one primary and one alternate funding category related to their area of expertise. The SCBGP funding categories are as follows: 

• California Grown Promotion
• Specialty Crop Access and Nutrition Education
• Equipping Current and Next Generation Specialty Crop Farmers
• Environmental Stewardship and Conservation
• Plant Health and Pest Management

For a description of each funding category and more details about the program, please reference the 2019 SCBGP Request for Concept Proposals. The application form and the 2019 SCBGP Request for Concept Proposals can be found on the SCBGP website at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants. Prospective applicants may contact CDFA’s Office of Grants Administration at (916) 657-3231 or [email protected] for additional information. 

California leads nation

The CDFA recently announced that California received $22.6 million from the USDA for this year's round of Specialty Crop Block Grant funds, the most in the nation. More than $72 million was awarded nationwide.

CDFA will fund 83 projects, awarding grants ranging from $25,000 to $300,000, at non-profit and for-profit organizations, government entities, and colleges and universities. Selected through a competitive process, these projects focus on increasing sales of specialty crops by leveraging the California Grown identity; increasing consumption by expanding the specialty crop consumer market, improving availability, and providing nutritional education for consumers; training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; and conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.

Additionally, CDFA solicited fixed-amount awards to fund projects that address the priority to assist California specialty crop growers, farmers, producers, and manufacturers in adopting the requirements of and meeting the standards for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

CDFA continued its partnership with the Center for Produce Safety in 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.

The 2018 SCBGP project abstracts are available online at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.

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