New Mexico: Funds Available for Agriculture Projects Involving Specialty Crops

Release Date: 02/20/2014

For Immediate Release
Katie Goetz
Public Information Officer
New Mexico: Funds Available for Agriculture Projects Involving Specialty Crops

Las Cruces, NM, February 20, 2014 – New Mexicans involved in agriculture and other types of food production are invited to apply to New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) for a portion of as much as $600 thousand in federal funds to benefit specialty crops. Funds are made available through USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).

“A good percentage of what we grow here in New Mexico is considered specialty crops,” said David Lucero, who directs NMDA’s Marketing and Development Division. “Pecans, chile, onions, greenhouse/nursery crops, pinto beans, honey – they’re all examples of specialty crops, which means projects centered around them could be considered for funding through this program.”

USDA defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Click here for a list of crops commonly considered eligible for SCBGP funding. The Specialty Crops Program exists to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops in markets both foreign and domestic.

To be considered for funding, projects must:
· solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in New Mexico;
· benefit more than one individual, entity, or product; and
· be completed within one to three years.

Lucero said that projects are given stronger consideration when they make good business sense and when they hold promise for succeeding beyond the life of the grant.

Examples of projects funded in the previous cycle include:
· Conducting workshops to increase grower knowledge of landrace chile varieties to ensure their long-term viability
· Conducting market analysis for hop production in New Mexico, as well as expanding evaluations of hops cultivars
· Providing a food safety consultant to help New Mexico Specialty crop suppliers and food manufacturers prepare for food safety audits increasingly required by wholesale buyers

Funding per project typically ranges from $20,000 to $75,000, but there is no cap. Funding is expected to become available on October 1, 2014.

Interested parties must apply through New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), which serves as the fiscal agent for the federal program. Proposals must be submitted to NMDA on or before April 1, 2014. Applicants will be notified on or before May 9, 2014, of whether or not their respective project will move forward in the process.

NMDA is hosting two workshops to help potential applicants understand the Specialty Crops Program and the process for completing an application that best represents their proposed project:
· Las Cruces: March 4 at NMDA, 3190 S. Espina Street
· Santa Fe: March 6, 2014, at Hotel Santa Fe, 1501 Paseo de Peralta

For more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and other agricultural grant programs overseen in New Mexico by NMDA, click here or call 575-646-4929.

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