Goehring extends deadline for specialty crop grants

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has extended the deadline for applications for the 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grants to May 24.

“North Dakota and Minnesota have cooperated on a number of projects in the past,” Goehring said. “The new deadline is closer to Minnesota's closing date.”

Goehring said organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.

The federal Agriculture Marketing Service is expected to award North Dakota about $480,000 for the grants.

Specialty crops are defined 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 vegetables.

“Eligible uses for these grants money include developing new seed varieties, reducing distribution costs, 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.”

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.

The website also includes a survey for applicants to provide their opinion on the funding priorities for the program.

Applications must be submitted in electronic form by 4 p.m. CST, May 24, 2013. A peer review panel of North Dakota agriculture industry representatives will review and score the applications. USDA will give final approval, awarding the grants in late fall/early winter.

The maximum grant amount is $100,000. Funded projects must be completed within 18 months.

Prospective applicants should contact Emily Edlund, NDDA's specialty crop grants administrator, at (701) 328-2191 or edlund@nd.gov for more information.