On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced additional funding of $72.9 million for its Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The objective is to support innovative projects that enhance this segment and explore opportunities for U.S. food & agricultural products. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which administers the program, accepts applications for the grant until May 1, 2023.
SCBGP funds non-competitive grants to state departments of agriculture or equivalent in the 50 States to support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research. Specialty crops include:
- Tree nuts,
- Dried fruits,
- And nursery crops (including floriculture).
The distribution of funds for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) takes into account the acreage of specialty crops and their production value in each U.S. state and territory. This formula ensures that states and regions with a higher concentration of specialty crop production receive a larger share of the grant funds. In addition, by considering both acreage and production value, the formula aims to support the competitiveness of specialty crops and growers in all regions of the country.
The SCBGP is funded through the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides a dedicated funding source for the program.
Since the program’s inception in 2006, the USDA has invested more than $1 billion to support nearly 12,000 projects. These projects have helped increase the competitiveness of the specialty crop industry and facilitated market entrance for specialty crop producers. For example, the funds have helped develop new, pest-resistant varieties of fruits and vegetables, improve the safety of fresh produce, and increase the marketing and promotion of specialty crops. As a result, the SCBGP continues to be an essential tool in supporting the specialty crop industry. In addition, the USDA’s investment in the program has significantly impacted the sector’s competitiveness.