The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) amended the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004. Under the amended Act, the Secretary of Agriculture is directed to make grants to states for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to be used by state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 provided funding for fiscal year 2013, section 10010 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 provided funding for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 and section 10107 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 will provide funding for fiscal years 2019 through 2023.
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, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems and environmental concerns and conservation.
Grant funds will not be awarded to projects that solely benefit a specific commercial product. It will not benefit products that provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. Grant funds cannot be put toward capital expenditures (equipment, buildings, land). They also may not be used to make improvements to capital assets that materially increase their value or useful life. Each project funded through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will be carried out over a two-year timeframe.