Ag Department Invites Proposals for $1 Million in Federal Grants to Boost Sales, Quality of Vegetable, Fruit, Nut, Nursery Specialty Crops

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is accepting project proposals for $1 million in federal funding to increase the visibility and competitiveness of the state’s horticultural specialty crops including fruit, vegetable, nursery, flower, and nut products. Proposals, due December 22, 2022, are for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which is administered by the state.

“Pennsylvania specialty crops are the finest available anywhere,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These grants feed profits for our growers by increasing their quality and demand for their products, protecting crops from pest, disease and climate threats, and helping them retain, recruit and train the workforce they need to grow their businesses and keep feeding Pennsylvania and the world.”

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.

In May 2022, the USDA awarded more than $2.45 million to 23 Pennsylvania projects through the program, and again in August 2022, they awarded more than $1 million to 14 Pennsylvania projects focused on research, education and sustainability.

Applicants must submit a full proposal for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through nutrition education, technology and trade innovation, conservation, pest and disease management research, food safety or food security enhancement, good handling practices, or organic and sustainable practices.

Requests may be made for a minimum of $20,000, provided the amount reasonably represents the cost of the intended project. Each project must have measurable outcomes demonstrating how it benefits the specialty crop or consumers, rather than a single organization, institution or individual. Single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

Full proposals must be received by 5:00 PM on December 22, 2022. Applications can be submitted to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application for Assistance at esa.dced.state.pa.us. Applicants with questions about eligible projects or procedures should contact Lauren Stackhouse at lastackhou@pa.gov or 717.614.5730.