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OH Specialty Crop Promotion Program

Ohio Department of Agriculture

Grant amount: US $25,000 - US $150,000

Anticipated deadline: May 1, 2019 1:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Nonprofit

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

Location of project: Ohio

Location of residency: Ohio

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Program Overview

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will be receiving a federal allocation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for specialty crop promotion in 2018. ODA is currently soliciting projects to solely enhance the competitiveness of Ohio specialty crops. It is the intent that all funding will be used to advance the long-term economic and viability of Ohio’s specialty crop industry while increasing the marketability of specialty crops.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will allocate funding to Ohio to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will award multiple grants to sub-recipients from these funds. Grant awards will range from a minimum of $25,000 up to a maximum of $150,000. Applicants are encouraged to coordinate efforts of similar projects; however, unique projects will be considered.

Because USDA is the funding authority, they have the final approval for projects submitted through this notice. ODA will utilize a review panel to make funding recommendations to ODA Director David T. Daniels. The review panel and Director’s decision will be forwarded to USDA to make the final determination concerning the awards. Projects cannot begin until the USDA has made their official award announcement and the contract between ODA and the sub-grantee has been signed by all parties. Projects are permitted to last up to two years in duration (October 2018 – October 2020).

Purpose of Grant

Specialty crops are identified as fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, tree nuts and nursery crops (including floriculture). The full list from USDA can be found here.

Grant Eligibility Requirements

Proposals shall be designed to address obstacles or opportunities that solely impact the competitive advantage of Ohio’s specialty crop industry; develop a plan to address these obstacles or opportunities. Proposals must clearly identify measures that can quantify the results or outcome of the proposed project. Proposals that are able to demonstrate clear profit and employment opportunities to the specialty crop industry will be given a higher rating during the review process. Grant projects may focus on, but are not restricted to these areas:

  • Water Quality
  • Support for Ohio’s bee industry
  • Third party audit education for buyers (retailer industry) of Ohio’s specialty crops
  • Development of season extension and sales opportunities
  • Provide improvements in the aggregation and distribution of specialty crops
  • Develop value-added products using Ohio specialty crops (All projects seeking assistance to develop a value-added venture must submit complete financial statements and a completed feasibility study.)
  • Support for efforts to reduce or mitigate risk for specialty crop producers
  • Diversification and expansion of production and processing
  • Implement programs or projects that provide outreach and education on the importance of the industry with regards to Ohio’s economy, food safety or the nutrition and health benefits of specialty crops.
  • Provide technical and direct support to beginning producers
  • Assist specialty crop producers in cooperative marketing efforts
  • Enhancing food safety and related areas
  • Initiatives to assist Ohio’s nursery industry
  • Leveraging investment of previously awarded grants to take project to the next level

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


  • Applicant Eligibility Requirements: 
    • The Ohio Department of Agriculture will only accept proposals for consideration for specialty crop block grant funds from food and agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, associations or commodity groups, universities and research institutions (hereinafter referred to as “eligible applicants”) that represent specific specialty crop sectors.
    • Individuals and partnerships (hereinafter referred to as “partnering entities”) may participate in this grant program by developing and submitting proposals, through an eligible applicant. 
  • Refer to the USDA document for cost principles, allowable and ineligible expenses under the program.
  • Matching Funds: 
    • All applicants must provide matching funds of a minimum of 25% of the requested grant amount. 


  • Applicants:
    • Private individuals and companies are not eligible to apply.
    • Employees of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, members of his or her immediate family, or business partners of the aforementioned are not eligible to receive a grant.
    • Members of the review committee are not permitted to apply for the grant if they are the applicant or have a financial obligation to project.
  • The following projects do not qualify for funds under the SCBG.
    • Advertising and public relations costs used to solely promote the image of an organization, general logo, or general brand, rather than specialty crops is unallowable.
      • 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 could say “Buy XYZ Grown Apples” but not “XYZ Grown” which promotes XYZ generally.
      • A promotional campaign to increase producer sales of “XYZ Grown fruits and vegetables” is acceptable while increasing membership in “XYZ Grown” generally is not.
    • Grant funds cannot be used for coupon/incentive redemptions or price discounts.
      • Costs associated with printing distribution, or promotion of coupons/tokens or price discounts (i.e., a print advertisement that contains a clip-out coupon) are allowable only if they solely promote the specialty crop rather than promote or benefit a program or single organization.
    • Aquaponics is allowable as long as the crops that are being grown are eligible specialty crops and the focus of the project is on the specialty crop and not the fish.
      • A project to determine whether carp, catfish or tilapia are best for growing lettuce is acceptable.
      • A project to study whether lettuce or tomato produced the highest yield of tilapia is not acceptable.
      • A project farm fish using an aquaponics system and then sell the fish is not acceptable.
      • A project to grow specialty crops where both the specialty crops and the fish are sold is not acceptable.
    • Grant funds cannot be used for costs associated with the used of trade shows, meeting rooms, displays, demonstrations, exhibits, and the rental space for activities that do not solely promote specialty crops.