Colorado Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)

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Grant amount: Up to US $500,000

Next anticipated deadline: May 10, 2020 (Full proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Feb 1, 2021 4:00pm PST (Pre proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Colorado

Location of residency: Colorado

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The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which partners with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.

Colorado specialty crops range from perennial favorites like potatoes and onions to exciting innovators such as chiles and hops. To help develop and promote the state’s specialty crops, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) seeks proposals annually for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. 


For the purposes of this program, specialty crops are defined as

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • tree nuts,
  • dried fruits, and
  • nursery crops (including floriculture and sod).

A complete list of eligible crops is available on the USDA specialty crop block grant program (SCBGP) website

Funding from the SCBGP affords Colorado's specialty crops stakeholders an unprecedented opportunity to undertake new initiatives including, but not limited to:

  • enhancing food safety;
  • investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
  • developing adaptation and mitigation strategies for farmers in drought-stricken regionsof the country;
  • supporting the growth of organic specialty crops;
  • developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
  • pest and disease control;
  • increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
  • increasing opportunities for new and beginning farmers;
  • improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
  • protecting and improving pollinator health;
  • developing local and regional food systems; and
  • improving food access in underserved communities and among veterans.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and/or local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply with projects lasting from January 1, 2019 to November 15, 2020, either as single entities or in combined efforts.
  • Although proposals submitted by individual producers are allowed, they must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will accrue to a broader group of similar producers, region or industry segment.
  • All projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of Colorado specialty crops.
  • A matching contribution of cash and/or in-kind resources equal to at least 25 percent of the total project budget is required.
  • Each project must include at least one of the eight outcomes listed below (see Concept Proposal Instructions document for more details of each outcome: 
    1. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased sales (required for all marketing and promotion projects)
    2.  Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased consumption.
    3. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased access and awareness.
    4. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through greater capacity of sustainable practices of specialty crop production resulting in increased yield, reduced inputs, increased efficiency, increased economic return, and/or conservation of resources.
    5. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through more sustainable, diverse, and resilient specialty crop systems.
    6. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increasing the number of viable technologies to improve food safety.
    7. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased understanding of the ecology of threats to food safety from microbial and chemical sources.
    8. Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through enhancing or improving the economy as a result of specialty crop development.


  • We endeavor to make the best use of available resources and will give preference to proposals that demonstrate applicant commitment to the project in terms of cash contribution and that maximize the leveraging of funds.


  • Crops excluded from the program as defined by USDA's AMS include: cotton, cottonseed, feed crops (such as barley, corn, hay, oats, sorghum grain, and millet), flaxseed, food grains (such as quinoa, rice, rye, and wheat), livestock and dairy products (including eggs), marine aquaculture, oil crops (such as peanut, soybean, sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, canola, and mustard seed), peanuts, range grasses, sugar beets, sugarcane, hemp, and tobacco. 
  • Projects may not solely benefit individuals.
  • Indirect costs are fixed costs not directly accountable to the cost objectives and are not allowed for grant reimbursement. 
  • Funds may not be utilized for paying down current debt, general administrative expenses (such as rent, phone, copiers, legal, etc.), or for indirect institutional overhead costs.
  • Funds may not be utilized for capital expenditures for general purpose equipment, buildings and land.
  • Similarly, funds may not be utilized for purchasing equipment, and construction/building costs.
    • General purpose equipment means equipment, which is not limited to research, medical, scientific or other technical activities.
    • Equipment means an article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year with a unit cost of $5,000 or more
  • Funds may not be used for development or participation in lobbying activities pursuant to 31 U.S. Code 1352.
  • Funds may not be used to fund political activities pursuant to 5 U.S. Code 1501-1508