Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets


Grant amount: US $10,000 - US $90,000

Next anticipated deadline: Feb 28, 2019 8:59pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: Apr 22, 2019 8:59pm PDT (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Individuals Organizations

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

Location of project: Vermont

Location of residency: Vermont

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Overview:

Funding Opportunity Description

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont and regionally-grown specialty crops. 

The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.”

The Vermont SCBGP aims to support all sectors of Vermont’s specialty crop industries and improve the performance of Vermont specialty crops within local, domestic, and international markets. We encourage projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain farmers’ livelihoods, and strengthen local economies. Vermont SCBGP applicants should describe projects that are supported by and address the needs of Vermont specialty crop producers.

There is no minimum or maximum award, but successful proposals are often awarded $10,000–$30,000 per project year.

Project Length: Projects can be funded for up to 3 years, or 36 months.

Funding Priorities

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, in partnership with statewide specialty crop stakeholders, has identified the following program funding priorities (eligible project types) for 2017. Funding priorities are not ranked.

  • Development of innovative horticultural production practices to enhance farm viability (including improved efficiency, production, or human resources management) and/or natural resource conservation
  • Pest and disease management
  • Food safety—including the handling, preparation, transport, and storage of specialty crops in ways that reduce foodborne illness
  • Value chain enhancement—including strengthening relationships between individuals, businesses, and organizations that build specialty crop value from production to consumption
  • Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
  • Producer collaboration—including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives

VAAFM strongly encourages projects proposing innovative partnerships that will develop new knowledge to strengthen specialty crop producers’ operations. VAAFM also encourages projects that address one or more goals and indicators for strengthening Vermont’s food system identified in the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan (published by the Vermont Farm to Plate Network and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund). 

Expected Measurable Outcomes

Each funded project must include at least one of eight specified outcomes listed below, and at least one of the indicator within the selected outcome. See complete details on outcomes and indicators here.

  • Outcome 1: To enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased sales.
  • Outcome 2: Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased consumption 
  • Outcome 3: Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased access and awareness 
  • 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
  • Outcome 5: Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through more sustainable, diverse, and resilient specialty crop systems
  • Outcome 6: Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increasing the number of viable  technologies to improve food safety 
  • Outcome 7: Enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through increased understanding of threats to food safety from microbial and chemical sources
  • 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:

  • Any entity may apply, provided that the proposed project benefits Vermont’s specialty crop industries.
    • Projects must benefit more than one specialty crop business, individual or organization. 
  • Projects must be supported by and address the needs of Vermont specialty crop producers
  • Projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of U.S. or U.S. territory-grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets.
    • Visit this link for a list of eligible specialty crops and ineligible commodities.
  • Applicants must identify at least one expected measurable outcome that specifically demonstrates the project’s impact in solely enhancing the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops
  • All proposals must show matching funds representing at least 50% of the SCBGP grant request.

Preferences:

  • Preference will be given to projects that have not received Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding in the past, but applications that build on a previously funded SCBGP project may be submitted.
    • In such cases, applicants must describe how the project will differ from and build on the previous efforts.

Ineligibility:

  • The Vermont SCBGP will not fund projects that solely benefit a single commercial product or provide a profit to a single business, organization, or individual. 
  • The Vermont SCBGP will not award funds to an entity to compete unfairly with private companies that provide equivalent products or services or fund projects where one organization attempts to disparage the mission, goals, and/or actions of another organization. 
  • EXAMPLES OF INELIGIBLE PROJECTS
    • A business requests funds to purchase equipment used to produce a specialty crop for the purpose of making a profit or to expand production within a single business.
    • A farm requests funds to market its farm stand or another aspect of its individual business.
    • A single specialty crop organization requests funds to promote its organization.