Montana Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program

Montana Department of Agriculture

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Grant amount: More than US $15,000

Anticipated deadline: Feb 6, 2020 10:59pm PST

Applicant type: Organizations

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: Montana

Location of residency: Montana

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Specialty Crop Block Grant

The Montana Department of Agriculture is pleased to present the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG). The purpose of this program is solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Montana. For purposes of the program, specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, peas and lentils, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Eligible Projects

USDA encourages entities to develop projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry: 

  • 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, by developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in costshare 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;
  • increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
  • improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems and;
  • sustainability.

Examples of Acceptable Projects

  • Conducting research on the feasibility of planting, cultivating, and growing a specialty crop in a particular area, the results of which will be shared with many growers throughout the State during the project.
  • Demonstrating the viability of organic small fruit production and partnering with Cooperative Extension to publicize the working model of diversification to other regional growers.
  • Providing a viable pollination alternative to specialty crop stakeholders in a region that currently does not have one.
  • Conducting an advertising campaign that will benefit a non-profit organization’s specialty crop members.
  • A single farmer erecting high tunnels on his/her 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.


The following priorities have been adopted by MDA specific to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These priorities are used to guide the MDA director in making decisions on funding recommendations. Providing Farmer Education on Specialty Crop.

  • Farm to institution practices
    • Value-added production
    • Disease and pest management
    • Farm and food safety
    • Organic production
    • Use of beneficial organisms
    • Business development
  • Supporting Research in the areas of Specialty Crop
    • Disease and pest management
    • Variety testing and selection
    • Organic production
    • Use of beneficial organisms
  • Planning and supporting Infrastructures that create or support Specialty Crop
    • Storage
    • Processing
    • Farm to institute
    • Pest management assistance for farmers
  • Increasing Consumer Awareness of the Value of Specialty Crops through
    • Education
    • Market Development
  • Representing a Geographic Diversity of Projects across the State

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


  • Eligible Applicants
    • State and/or local organizations, government entities, producer associations, academia, community based organizations, and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts.
    • Regional or multi-state projects may be considered by MDA. 
  • Eligible & Ineligible Specialty Crops
    • A comprehensive definition of specialty crops can be found on the USDA website.
    • Eligible specialty crops must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be eligible.
    • Processed products shall constitute greater than 50% of the specialty crop by weight, exclusive of added water
  • To be eligible for a grant, the project(s) must solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets and benefit crops grown in Montana. 
  • Eligible Projects: 
    • To be eligible for a grant, the project(s) must solely enhance the competitiveness of U.S. or U.S. territory grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets.
    • Projects must also benefit more than one commercial product (e.g., ABC Company brand), organization, or individual.


    • Multiple beneficiaries:
      • MDA will not award grant funds for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.
      • In addition, recipients and subrecipients cannot use grant funds to compete unfairly with private companies that provide equivalent products or services. 
    • Projects that support the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase and/or include technologies for benefit redemption systems should consider submitting those projects to the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program (FINI).
    • Projects that support domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities, local and regional food business enterprises that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products should consider submitting those projects to the Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program.
    • Projects that support biobased products and bioenergy and energy programs, including biofuels and other alternative uses for agricultural and forestry commodities (development of biobased products) should see the USDA energy website for information on how to submit those projects for consideration to the energy programs supported by USDA
    • Examples of Unacceptable Projects:
      • A company requests grant funds to purchase starter plants or equipment used to plant, cultivate, and grow a specialty crop to make a profit, or to expand production of a single business or organization. 
      • An entity requests grant funds to make grants to individual specialty crop businesses or roadside stands to promote their individual business. 
      • A non-profit organization uses grant funds to purchase produce and then sells that produce to other entities at cost or a higher price than the purchase price while competing with other private companies who sell produce in the area. 
      • A sole proprietor requests grant funds to redesign her/his logo in order to make her/his specialty crop value-added product stand out at the local farmers’ market. 
      • A single specialty crop organization requests grant funds to market its organization so that it can increase membership in the organization.