Program Purpose - Eligibility - Eligible Projects - Applicant Eligibility - Exclusions - Examples of Acceptable Projects - Examples of Unacceptable Projects - Program Priorities

Program Purpose

The purpose of this program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in North Dakota pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • Enhancing food safety
  • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, by developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
  • Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops
  • Pest and disease control
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
  • Sustainability

For purposes of the program, specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

 

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Eligibility

Definition of a specialty crops

Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” This definition, although more exact than previous legal definitions, leaves a certain amount of latitude in interpretation. Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops and floricultural crops are all considered to be horticultural crops. Regardless, the specific mention of these crop groups means that plants so classified automatically qualify as specialty crops. Where interpretation is needed is in which plants, not specifically mentioned in legislation, can be classified as horticulture (sic) crops.

Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops. Processed products shall constitute greater than 50% of the specialty crop by weight, exclusive of added water.

 

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Eligible Projects

To be eligible for a grant, the project(s) must "solely enhance the competitiveness of U.S. or U.S. territory grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets." Projects must also benefit more than one commercial product (e.g., ABC Company brand), organization, or individual.

Examples of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops include, but are not limited to: research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, "buy local" programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, product development, and developing cooperatives.

 

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Applicant eligibility

The following organizations can submit projects that aim to enhance the production and competitiveness of North Dakota’s specialty crop industries:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Government entities
  • For-profit organizations
  • Industry trade associations
  • Producer groups
  • Commodity commissions
  • Public and private colleges/universities
  • Individuals (must partner with an above group)

 

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Exclusions

  • Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide profit only to a single organization, institution, or individual
  • Funds may not be used to purchase fixed assets or personal property
  • Expenditures incurred prior to grant award may not be included in the grant request or eligible for reimbursement
  • Administration or indirect costs (defined as expenses incurred in controlling or directing an organization, but not directly identifiable with financing, marketing, or production operations) cannot be paid for with these grant funds

 

State and/or local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply. SCBGP grant funds will be awarded for projects of up to 2 years duration. Examples of projects aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops include, but are not limited to: Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; participation of industry representatives at meetings of international standard setting bodies in which the U.S. government participates; improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chains in developing “Good Agricultural Practices”, “Good Handling Practices”, “Good Manufacturing Practices”, and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors; investing in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; enhancing food safety; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; pest and disease control; and sustainability. SCBGP funds shall be used for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and benefit the specialty crop industry. Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a specific commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Projects must enhance specialty crop industry competitiveness. Applications for grant funds should show how the project potentially impacts and produces measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual.

 

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Examples of Acceptable Projects:

  • A non-profit organization requests funds to conduct an advertising campaign that will benefit their specialty crop members
  • A state requests funding to contract with a university to conduct research on the feasibility of planting, cultivating, and growing a specialty crop in a specific area, the results of which will be shared with many growers throughout the state during the project
  • A single grower requests funds to demonstrate the viability of small fruit production and partners with an Extension program to publicize the working model of diversification to other regional growers
  • A single company requests funds to provide a viable pollination alternative to specialty crop stakeholders in a region that currently does not have one
  • A single farmer erects high tunnels on their property to extend the growing season of tomatoes and lettuce and conducts a field day and farm tour to encourage other small family farmers to adopt the production methods

 

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Examples of Unacceptable Projects:

  • A company requests grant funds to purchase starter plants or equipment used to plant, cultivate, and grow a specialty crop for the purpose of making a profit, or to expand production of a single business or organization
  • A state requests grant funds to make grants to individual specialty crop businesses or roadside stands to promote their individual businesses
  • A non-profit organization uses grant funds to purchase produce and then sells that produce to other entities at cost or a higher price than the purchase price while competing with other private companies who sell produce in the area
  • A sole proprietor requests grant funds to redesign their logo to make their specialty crop value-added product stand out at the local farmers’ market
  • A single specialty crop organization requests grant funds to market its organization so that it can increase its membership

 

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Program Priorities

Providing Farmer Education on Specialty Crop:

  • Farm-to-institution practices
  • Value-added production
  • Disease and pest management
  • Farm and food safety
  • Organic and non-organic food production
  • Use of beneficial organisms
  • Business development

 

Supporting Research in the Areas of Specialty Crop:

  • Disease and pest management
  • Variety testing and selection
  • Organic and non-organic food production
  • Use of beneficial organisms
  • Adaptability and Resiliency

 

Planning and Supporting Infrastructures that Create or Support Specialty Crop:

  • Storage
  • Processing
  • Farm to institute
  • Pest management assistance for farmers

 

Increasing Consumer Awareness of the Value of Specialty Crops Through:

  • Education
  • Market Development

 

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Purpose and Eligibility Contacts

Deanna Gierszewski

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Administrator
ND Department of Agriculture 600 E Boulevard Ave Dept. 602 Bismarck, ND 58505-0020
701-328-2191
701-328-4567
degierszewski@nd.gov