Release Date: 03/05/2015
Broomfield, Colorado, March 5, 2015 – Colorado specialty crops range from perennial favorites like potatoes and onions to exciting innovators such as chiles and hops. To help develop and promote the state’s specialty crops, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is seeking proposals for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.
“Colorado produces a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and horticultural products,” said Glenda Mostek, CDA Marketing Specialist. “This grant program provides a great opportunity to growers and organizations to improve how they grow, process and market specialty crops.”
In 2012, Fort Lewis College in southwest Colorado received grant funds to develop model training programs for new produce farmers starting their own agricultural enterprises. The project increased the chance of success for the new farmers who participated in previous courses by presenting hands-on practical experience through market garden incubator plots at the Fort Lewis College Field Station. The program trained 13 new produce farmers and increased locally produced vegetables by 22,923 pounds in 2013.
“This project is a great example of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. It benefited the beginning farmers who needed an alternative entry point to reach their goal of producing specialty crops on a commercial scale. Simply put, without this program they would not be farming,” Mostek said.
Colorado’s specialty crops represent approximately nine percent of Colorado’s total agricultural cash receipts. In 2012, cash receipts from specialty crops totaled more than $658 million.
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.
CDA anticipates that approximately $800,000 will be available for this year’s grant program, with approved projects starting early in 2016. 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.
Proposals must be received electronically by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on May 1, 2015. For more information and an application, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 869-9173.
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