Call for specialty crop grant proposals
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is seeking proposals for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Colorado industry organizations and their producers," said Tom Lipetzky, CDA's markets division director. "This grant will allow for even greater diversity within Colorado's specialty crop industry, allowing producers to expand into a growing market."
Colorado's specialty crop industry is growing 20 percent faster than the rest of Colorado's ag industry and represents approximately 10 percent of Colorado's total agricultural cash receipts. Since 2000, cash receipts from specialty crops have increased by 44 percent from $455 million to $654 million--ranking Colorado 16th in the nation.
The specialty crop grant stems from the farm bill which authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to partner with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.
"The department must submit an application that includes possible projects to USDA in order to receive those funds," continued Lipetzky. "We are asking for proposals now so we can hit the ground running when the funds become available."
CDA anticipates nearly $700,000 to support the specialty crop grant and those funds would most likely be available after September 2009. Individual producers, producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will accrue to a broader group of similar producers, region or industry segment.
Proposals must be received by close of business on April 20. For more information, including a list of possible proposals, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call 303-239-4116.