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TDA Now Accepting Proposals for Specialty Crop Block Grants

Thursday, April 14, 2011 | 05:57am
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These funds will help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery crops including floriculture. Administered by TDA, the grants are authorized through the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
 
“Specialty crops are increasingly important to Tennessee’s farm economy as consumer demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables and other products continues to grow,” said Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson. “These grants will fund innovation, research and training that will help make our farms more productive and profitable.”
 
Proposals are divided into three main categories:
 
Good Ag Practices/Food Safety/Traceability                            
This category includes, but is not limited to training, specialized equipment and facilities needed to incorporate GAPs, GMPs and/or specialty crop traceability.
 
Farmers Markets/Wholesale Produce                                        
This category includes, but is not limited to, cool storage, distribution and handling needs. A priority is establishing wholesale produce auctions.
 
Innovative Specialty Crop Projects                                                        
This category includes, but is not limited to, on-farm needs that enhance marketing, production, packing and/or distribution of specialty crops.
 
Tennessee is eligible for more than $518,000 in federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds to support grower education, infrastructure needs, food safety and marketing. Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for project funding for up to $50,000.
 
Eligible projects must be forward thinking, demonstrate a positive impact on Tennessee agriculture and significantly increase farm income through the improvement or expansion of farm or agribusiness operations involving the production of specialty crop. Demonstration of long-term benefits is also required.
 
Proposals must be received no later than June 15. Proposal requirements and other information can be found at http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/marketing/produce.html
 
Once proposals are received, a panel will review and rank them according to the criteria provided. Applicants who submit a project will be notified by June 29 if TDA intends to present the project to USDA for funding. For more information regarding the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, contact Dan Strasser at 615-837-5160 orDan.Strasser@TN.gov.

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