Specialty Crops Block Grant Program
Proposals for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program are due to the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) by March 1, 2010. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.
The grant program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which partners with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.
Of the $55 million USDA is making available to state departments of agriculture, CDA will receive more than $760,000 to distribute to grant projects in Colorado. Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will accrue to a broader group of similar producers, region or industry segment.
“The department must submit a request outlining projects to the USDA in order to receive these funds,” continued Lipetzky. “This application process will help determine which projects are included in our proposal to the USDA.”
Colorado’s specialty crops represent approximately 10 percent of Colorado’s total agricultural cash receipts. Since 2000, cash receipts from specialty crops have increased by 67 percent from $445 million to $743 million, ranking Colorado 16th in the nation.
CDA must receive proposals by 4:30 p.m. on March 1, 2010. For more information and an application, please visit www. Colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 239-4116.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.