MD Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Maryland Department of Agriculture


Grant amount: US $15,000 - US $140,000

Anticipated deadline: Apr 18, 2019 12:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Organizations

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Research

Location of project: Maryland

Location of residency: Maryland

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Overview:

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

​The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) administers funding received from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The amount of funding received by MDA is based on specialty crop acreage and production value on an annual basis. MDA conducts an annual competitive process to award grant funds. 

The purpose of the Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of Maryland specialty crops including fruits and vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, honey, hops, grapes, maple syrup, Christmas trees and nursery crops. MDA awards SCBGP funds through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. 

Please keep in mind, proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will be for a broader group of similar producers or industry segment.  For example, an acceptable project would be a single farmer erects high tunnels on their property to extend the growing season of tomatoes and lettuce and conducts a field day and farm tour to encourage other small family farmers to adopt the production methods. 

Funding Priority Areas

To be eligible for a grant, the project(s) must solely enhance the competitiveness of Maryland grown specialty crops. Priority will be given to projects that have the potential to provide solutions that lead to measurable benefits to the specialty crop industry in Maryland. Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that provide profit to or directly benefit a specific commercial product or a single organization, institution, or individual. 

Grant applications that focus on one of the areas below will be given priority. 

Food Safety Compliance

Proposed projects should improve the capacity of all producers in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act – Produce Safety Rule and\or Preventative Controls Rule. 

Market Enhancement

Proposed projects should increase sales and marketability and drive demand for commercially grown specialty crops for retail, wholesale or institution buying, i.e. schools, restaurants, grocery stores, nurseries and other businesses. 

Plant Health and Pest Management

Proposed projects should prevent and manage pests and diseases to protect markets and minimize economic harm to specialty crop growers, including integrated pest management activities. 

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

Eligibility:

  • Eligible Specialty Crops
    • Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.” 
  • Eligible Applicants & Projects:
    • Applicants must have the support of a specific specialty crop organization or group with at least three specialty crop producers.
    • Proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will be for a broader group of similar producers or industry segment.
    • Projects must also be identified as a priority of the industry. 
    • Proposals will be accepted from non-profit organizations, producer organizations, government agencies, universities, and other organizations involved in Maryland agriculture.
    • Applicants must reside in Maryland or their business or educational affiliation must be in Maryland.
  •  Eligible Expenses - Allowable Costs: Eligible project expenses include, but are not limited to:
    • Personnel Services
      • Salaries, wages and fringe benefits
    • Consultant Services or Subcontractors
      • Costs of professional and consultant services rendered by persons who are members of a particular profession or possess a special skill. 
    • Materials and Supplies
      • Costs incurred for materials, supplies, and fabricated parts necessary to carry out the grant project. Purchased materials and supplies shall be charged at their actual prices, net of applicable credits. 
    • Travel Expenses
      • Mileage reimbursement following federal requirements for reimbursement rates, hotel, vehicle rental, or air fare. 
    • Miscellaneous Costs
      • For example: telephone, meetings, publications, etc.

Preferences:

  • Matching funds are not required; however, the levels and sources of matching funds are a key criterion for evaluating proposals.
    • Proposals that demonstrate applicant commitment to the project that maximizes the leveraging of funds will be considered. 

Ineligibility:

  • Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that only benefit or provide profit to a single organization, business, institution or individual.
  • An unacceptable project would be a specialty crop producer requests funds to promote their asparagus at a roadside stand.​ 
  •  Ineligible Commodities:
    • The USDA maintains a list of ineligible crops on its website.
  • Ineligible Expenses:
    • Capital Expenditures for Equipment, Buildings, and Land
      • Equipment is any single item which costs $5,000 or more and has a depreciation of more than one year. 
    • Bad Debts
    • Lobbying, Political and Other Governmental Activities
    • Advertising and Public Relations costs
      • Costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, general logo, or  general brand rather than eligible specialty crops are not allowed. 
      • A promotional campaign to increase sales of “XYZ Grown” Watermelon is acceptable while increasing brand awareness of “XYZ Grown” generically is not. 
      • Promoting tomatoes while including an organization’s logo in the promotion is acceptable, while generally promoting an organization’s logo is not. 
      • Promotional items, swag, gifts, prizes, memorabilia and souvenirs, i.e. bags with “XYZ Grown Watermelon” are not eligible. 
      • Costs associated with sponsorships are not eligible. A sponsorship is a form of advertising in which an organization uses grant funds to have its name and/or logo associated with certain events and where the organization does not necessarily know how the funds will be used.