Goehring: Applications being accepted for specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) is now accepting applications for 2014 Specialty Crop Grants.

“Projects that promote the production, processing and use of specialty crops in the North Dakota are eligible for these grants,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.”

Goehring said delayed passage of the 2014 Farm Bill means the amount that USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service will award North Dakota for the grants is not yet known.

“Eligible applications include developing new and improved seed varieties, reducing distribution costs, investing in specialty crop research, enhancing food safety, pest and disease control and development of 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.” Specialty crops 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., Friday, May 23, 2014. An external review committee will review and score the applications. The successful applications will be forwarded onto the USDA for final approval. The grants will be awarded in late fall/early winter.

In the past, the maximum grant amount was $100,000, but Goehring said the possibility of increased funding from AMS means larger grants may be possible. Projects funded by the grants must be completed within 18 months.

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