BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) will hold listening sessions, Feb. 3-4, to gather public comment and to provide information on the 2011 USDA Specialty Crop Grant Program.

The Feb. 3 session is scheduled for 8-9 a.m., in the south room of the Capitol Cafeteria at the State Capitol; the Feb. 4 session will be held from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. at the NDDA booth in the Crystal Ballroom at the Ramada Suites in Fargo during the annual conference of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.

“We encourage interested organizations, institutions and individuals to attend one of these sessions to let us know how these grants might be best utilized and to get the details on how to apply for the grants,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “The purpose of the grants is to give fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop producers a competitive edge in the marketplace.”

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants. Specialty crops now grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, grapes, confectionary sunflower, honey, nursery plants and various vegetables. A list of eligible and ineligible commodities can be found at

Goehring said the state expects to receive more than $600,000 in federal funds for the 2011 program. NDDA will distribute these funds through a competitive grant program.

Applicants can submit proposals on their own or in partnerships. Grant projects may include outreach to increase consumer knowledge of specialty crops, development of good agricultural practices, investment in specialty crop research, development of new seed varieties, and pest and disease control. Multi-state projects will also be considered.

Projects that directly benefit specific, commercial products or profit a single organization, institution, or individuals are ineligible.

NDDA will accept grant applications through April 15, 2011.

Questions regarding the grant program or the application process can be directed to Emily Edlund at 701-328-2191 or email