Goehring announces availability of specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced that applications are now being accepted for 2013 Specialty Crop Grants.

“These grants underwrite projects that promote the production, processing and use of specialty crops in the North Dakota,” Goehring said. “We encourage organizations, institutions and individuals to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.”

Goehring said USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service is expected to award North Dakota about $600,000 for the grants.

“Some of the eligible applications for this money include developing new and improved seed varieties, reducing distribution costs, investing in specialty crop research, enhancing food safety, pest and disease control and developing local and regional food systems,” he said. “Projects that directly benefit specific, commercial products or profit a single organization, institution, or individual are not eligible.”

USDA defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Specialty crops now grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, potatoes, confection sunflowers, grapes, honey and various vegetables.

Goehring said an information manual with application instructions, scoring criteria and an application template can be found on NDDA's website, www.nd.gov/ndda/program/specialty-crop-block-grant-program.

Applications must be submitted in electronic form by 4 p.m. CST, May 3, 2013. NDDA personnel will select a peer review panel from the North Dakota agriculture industry to review and score the applications along with Commissioner Goehring. The final applications will then be forwarded to the USDA for final approval. The grants will be awarded in late fall/early winter.

The maximum grant amount is $100,000. Projects funded by the grants must be completed within 18 months.

For further information, contact NDDA's Specialty Crop Grants Administrator Emily Edlund at (701) 328-2191 or edlund@nd.gov.