Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for the 2024 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through March 1, 2024. The grant program, which is designed to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa by increasing demand, yields, or awareness, is administered by the Department with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Iowa consumers are increasingly turning to Choose Iowa to find more local food and ag products, and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program helps Iowa farmers and producers build the variety and supply needed to meet this growing demand,” said Secretary Naig. “As Choose Iowa grows statewide and more farmers become members, it’s important we have Farm Bill programs like the Specialty Crop Block Grants to stimulate new markets, invest in research, and make Iowa’s specialty crop industry more competitive.”
Projects must enhance the competitiveness of Iowa-grown specialty crops that benefit the industry as a whole and that do not directly benefit a particular product or single organization, institution, or individual. Eligible specialty crops include fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, and dried fruits, as well as horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Livestock and poultry are not considered specialty crops.
Iowa’s total allocation for the program this year is $368,627.98. The maximum amount of a sub-award is $30,000. However, if it is determined there are not enough qualified projects to award all available funding from USDA-AMS, the Department reserves the right at its sole discretion to re-evaluate the maximum amount to be awarded on a per-project basis to utilize all funding available. Contract options will be available for projects lasting 12 months, 24 months, and 30 months.
Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, producers, industry associations, and community-based organizations are eligible to apply. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. Eligible applicants must reside and/or conduct their business or organization in Iowa and must be in good standing.
Grant proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on or before 4:00 p.m. on March 1, 2024. For more information, visit the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program website.
The Department is also establishing a review committee to help evaluate and make recommendations on the submitted grant proposals. Individuals interested in participating in the review committee should be knowledgeable about specialty crops and/or have grant writing or grant management experience as well as be able to devote time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates, and an application form can be found on the Department’s website. Applications to participate in the review committee are due by 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2024.