NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These federal funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, which include fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and are administered by TDA.
“Crop and income diversity are key elements for success as we work to grow rural economies in Tennessee,” said Ed Harlan, TDA assistant commissioner for Market Development. “Specialty crops are by definition crops that are not common or traditional to our producers. These crops are increasingly important to stable growth for agriculture related businesses, however. Specialty crop grants can fund innovation, research and training to allow our producers and agriculture related businesses and organizations to improve, expand and try new income avenues with less risk.”
TDA officials anticipate the state will be eligible for about $480,000 in federal SCBG funds to support grower education, infrastructure, food safety and marketing. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, for-profit industries or community-based organizations may submit proposals for project funding, but all fund recipients must be recognized by the IRS and must provide benefit to more than a single organization, institution or individual. Demonstration of long-term benefits is also required.