TX Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Texas Department of Agriculture


Grant amount: Up to US $1,300,000

Anticipated deadline: Feb 21, 2019 3:00pm PST

Applicant type: Nonprofit For-Profit Business Government Entity

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

Location of project: Texas

Location of residency: Texas

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Overview:

The Texas Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications to consider for the 2017 State Plan to the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. SCBGP funds will be made available to Texas from the USDA 2017 fiscal year budget. Although USDA-AMS has not officially released SCBGP funds to the states, TDA anticipates approximately $1.3 million will be available for Texas projects. This figure is subject to change upon the formal Notice of Funding posted by USDA-AMS.

Program Purpose

The sole purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. TDA encourages organizations to develop projects to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops pertaining to the following issues affecting the industry:

  • Food Safety
  • Marketing
  • Nutrition
  • Plant Health
  • Value Added/Industry Development

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, nursery crops (including floriculture). See lists of eligible and ineligible crops  from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.  

Proposals for grant funds should describe how the project potentially impacts and produces measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual.

Funding Areas and Priorities

TDA encourages applicants to develop projects to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops pertaining to the following five (5) key focus areas affecting the specialty crop industry: Food Safety, Nutrition, Plant Health, Value Added and Industry Development, and Marketing. Applicants are responsible for selecting the key focus area that best fits their project.

Research projects in all focus areas should be applied research and results should be available to producers, processors and/or consumers within one (1) to two (2) years of the grant term date. Projects with a large research component will be evaluated on their ability to document and transfer results to the industry.

TDA may choose to use a portion of the funds for projects conducted internally, including, but not limited to, outreach activities, nutrition, regulatory or marketing. Internal projects will also be evaluated in the competitive process. 

See complete priority details in the RFA.

Food Safety

TDA will consider projects that assist production of specialty crop agricultural operations in continuing to supply the safest food in the world.

Nutrition

TDA will consider projects that improve access and consumption of specialty crops. Ensuring access to healthy foods in underserved low-income areas of Texas and increasing Texans’ access to and consumption of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts is a key strategy to improve human health.

All projects must increase the competitiveness of specialty crops and clearly demonstrate a benefit to the specialty crop industry. TDA will consider projects that integrate human health and nutrition into applications that also show a direct impact on specialty crops.

Plant Health

TDA will consider applications that address pests and diseases that affect the production of Texas’ specialty crops. This includes research related to the probability and impact of invasive pest, disease and weed threats to specialty crops and research to develop tools to detect, eradicate and control pests and diseases. Results should be available to producers, processors or consumers within one (1) to two (2) years of grant term date.

TDA will also consider projects that enhance the conservation or improve the quality of agricultural land, water, habitat and biodiversity, as well as, applications that address specialty crops’ contribution to adaptation and/or mitigation of climate change. 

Value Added and Industry Development

TDA will consider projects that add to the value of specialty crops, or develop new ideas, tools or information that increase the benefit to the industry.

Marketing

TDA will consider projects that improve consumers’ knowledge and understanding of specialty crops through education and outreach. Additionally, TDA will consider projects that increase or develop long-term sales, consumption and competitiveness of specialty crop products, including international marketing and trade activities.

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

Eligibility:

  • Responses will only be accepted from producer, industry or community-based organizations involved with, or that promote specialty crops.
    • Projects must demonstrate that they enhance the competitiveness of Texas’ specialty crop industry. 
    • Project funds may only be used for activities benefiting specialty crops.
    • Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.
    • Producer, industry or community-based organizations involved with specialty crops may partner with an educational institution; however, the primary applicant must be a producer, industry or community-based organizations involved with specialty crops
  • Eligible Expenses: Generally, expenses that are necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient performance and administration of the project are eligible
    • Examples of eligible expenditures include:
      • Personnel costs – both salary and benefits directly related to project implementation
      • Contracts – agreements made with a third-party to perform a portion of the award;
      • Travel – mileage reimbursement, transportation and lodging;
      • Capital Expenditures – Equipment that has a useful life of more than one year and a cost of more than $5,000. CAPITAL EXPENDITURES MUST BE SUBMITTED FOR APPROVAL TO TDA PRIOR TO EXPENDITURE/PURCHASE. Failure to secure written approval from TDA will result in disallowance of the cost; 
      • Supplies and direct operating expenses – items that cost less than $5,000 per unit with a useful life of less than one year, office supplies, postage, telecommunications, printing, etc. that are directly related to the project activities; 
      • Controlled assets are defined as certain items valued $500.00 - $4,999.99 which must also be inventoried, Controlled Property Listing. 
      • Direct operating expenses (other) – any expenses that do not fall into the other categories directly related to the proposed activities; and 
      • Indirect costs - The maximum allowable rate set by the SCBGP regulations is 8%

Ineligibility:

  • Applications will not be accepted where the primary applicant is an educational institution.
  • Grant funds may not be used to supplant normal business costs but instead must be used to cover the costs incurred for the approved proposed activities.
  • Ineligible Expenses: Certain expenses may be prohibited by state or federal law or determined to be ineligible by program guidelines.
    • A list of eligible/ineligible expenses are provided here.
    • Additionally some common examples include but are not limited to the following:
      • Alcoholic beverages
      • Entertainment
      • Tips
      • Contributions, charitable or political
      • Expenses falling outside of the contract period
      • Expenses for items not listed in the project budget or that fail to meet the intent of the program
      • Expenses that are not adequately documented
      • Meal reimbursements related to travel, meetings, conferences or other events
      • Advertising and Public Relations costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, general logo, or general brand rather than eligible specialty crops are unallowable.
        • A promotional campaign to increase sales of “XYZ Grown” Watermelon is acceptable while increasing brand awareness of “XYZ Grown” generally, is not. Promoting tomatoes while including an organization’s logo in the promotion is acceptable, while generally promoting an organization’s logo is not
      • 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
      • Costs associated with the use of trade shows, meeting rooms, display, demonstrations, exhibits, and the rental of space are allowable only if they solely promote the specialty crop.
        • Cost sharing to promote both specialty crops and non-specialty crops is not allowable for these types of expenses.