The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is seeking projects that strengthen the state’s competitiveness of horticultural specialty crops and combat food system shortfalls associated with COVID-19. Proposals, due July 30, 2021, are for the special allocation of the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program, which is administered by the state.
“These funds are a win-win for growers and consumers,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Funded projects will assist growers in overcoming challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. And, they will connect consumers with specialty crops through expanded availability and access, further strengthening our food system.”
The federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress awarded nearly $1.4 million in stimulus funding to the SCBG Program to combat COVID-19 impacts to the food system. These funds are intended for projects that respond to priority needs relating to COVID-19 and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by:
- Leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops;
- Assisting producers with research and development relevant to specialty crops;
- Expanding availability and access to specialty crops; and
- Addressing local, regional, and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.
Commodities that meet the definition of specialty crops include horticultural products such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants and nursery crops.
The Department’s competitive solicitation process will be divided into two phases: Phase I, full proposal, and Phase II, final grant proposal. Applicants must submit full proposals for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through market development, technology innovation, food safety, nutrition knowledge, sustainable practices and or pest management. Full proposals should outline the project’s purpose, objectives, beneficiaries, external support, measurable outcomes, indicators, data collection, budget narrative, oversight and commitment.