MA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)


Grant amount: US $40,000 - US $90,000

Anticipated deadline: Apr 27, 2019 1:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Organizations Individuals

Funding uses: Research, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Massachusetts

Location of residency: Massachusetts

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Overview:

To address the goals the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has for solely enhancing the competitiveness of Specialty Crops. Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture (including maple syrup and honey), nursery crops (including floriculture).

Proposals Sought For:

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) seeks proposals to establish a financing infrastructure that increases access to healthy, affordable food options, with a preference for fresh, locally-sourced, Massachusetts grown, caught or harvested healthy food, and to improve economic opportunities for nutritionally underserved communities in urban, rural and suburban localities.

Overview and Goals: 

The overall goal of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (“SCBGP”) is to increases access to healthy, affordable food options, with a preference for fresh, locally-sourced, Massachusetts grown, caught or harvested healthy food, and to improve economic opportunities for nutritionally underserved communities in urban, rural and suburban localities. 

A full definition and a list of Specialty Crops can be found on the USDA—Specialty Crop Website,  or see attachment A “USDA’s List of Specialty Crops”. The USDA is the final approver and funding entity for the Specialty Crop Grant Program. While MDAR will conduct the initial review of project proposals and make recommendations to USDA, USDA shall make the final decision concerning grant awards.

Funding Availability

The Department intends to fund approximately $400,000 in projects which will result from this competitive RFR process. All funding is subject to appropriation. The suggested dollar value of projects is between $40,000 and $90,000 per project. 

A successful respondent will enter into a contract with MDAR. MDAR reserves the right to fund the project in part, add and delete tasks, and ask for clarification on the work plan, timeline and budget. MDAR may ask grantees to acknowledge MDAR as a grantor where appropriate. No contract shall be entered into until MDAR is satisfied with all the specifications of the project. 

Any grant award is dependent upon the availability of federal funds and the final approval from the USDA. Any successful contractor will be required to follow all the applicable federal and state regulations that pertain to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. 

Fiscal Year 2018 - Expected Measurable Outcomes

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is required to report on the outcomes of the SCBGP at a national scale to demonstrate the performance of this program. By collecting, aggregating, and reporting performance data across all states and territories, AMS can share the impact of the SCGBP with all stakeholders, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Congress, the agricultural community, and the general public. 

Full Proposals must identify at least one (1) of the AMS-defined expected measureable outcomes listed below, and at least one (1) indicator for each selected outcome. Additionally, if there are multiple sub-indicators under the selected indicator, select at least one (1). If the indicator(s) below the selected outcome(s) are not relevant to a project, a project specific indicator(s) may be developed which will be subject to approval by MDAR and AMS.


  1. Outcome 1: “To enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased sales.”
    • THIS OUTCOME IS MANDATORY FOR ALL MARKETING AND PROMOTION PROJECTS.
  2. Outcome 2: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased consumption.”
  3. Outcome 3: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased access and awareness.”  
  4. Outcome 4: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops though 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. Outcome 5: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through more sustainable, diverse, and resilient specialty crop systems.”
  6. Outcome 6: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increasing the number of viable technologies to improve food safety.”

  7. Outcome 7: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased understanding of threats to food safety from microbial and chemical sources.”

  8. Outcome 8: “Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through enhancing or improving the economy as a result of specialty crop development.”

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

Eligibility:

  • Eligible applicants
    • Socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers, eligible non-profit organizations, local government entities, for-profit organizations, industry trade associations, producer groups, and commodity commissions can submit projects that aim to enhance the production and competitiveness of Massachusetts specialty crop industries, provided their proposals meet all the specifications in this Request for Response (RFR) and the USDA. 
  • Eligible Projects:
    • Projects must be solely related to enhancing the competitiveness of Specialty Crops; specifically in regards to the following areas specified by USDA.
  • Examples of Eligible Projects:
    • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
    • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; 
    • Assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution process in implementing practices and standards that improve food safety which may include but are not limited to the “Commonwealth Quality Program”, “Good Agricultural Practices”, “Good Handling Practices”, “Good Manufacturing Practices”, and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors;
    • Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; 
    • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
    • Pest and disease control; 
    • Development of organic and sustainable production practices;
    • Enhancing food safety;
    • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors; and
    • Sustainability

Preferences:

  • Expected measurable outcomes #4 - #8 have been identified by the MDAR SCBGP review team as the best matches for the Commonwealth’s specialty crops priorities. 
    • Proposals that include at least one of these outcomes and indicators, and make a clear case for their projects generating substantial gains for the Commonwealth within these categories, will receive additional consideration for funding. 

Ineligibility:

  • Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.
    • Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.
  • Examples of Ineligible Projects:
    • A proposal for funds to purchase starter plants or equipment used to plant, cultivate, and grow a specialty crop for the purpose of making a profit, or to expand production of a single business;
    • A proposal for funds from a specialty crop organization to promote their members’ businesses;
    • A proposal for capital expenditures for general purpose equipment, buildings, and land;
    • A proposal that seeks additional funds to support a current or previously funded state or federal project;
    • A proposal that seeks to support a non-specialty crop project.