The Oregon Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for project ideas as part of US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for 2017. Approximately $1.6 million is expected to be available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, processors, commodity commissions, non-profits, for profits, and local government agencies in Oregon. Funding for Oregon’s program is contingent upon federal funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Specialty crops are defined as commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. Oregon ranks in the top ten nationwide in production of specialty crops.
For the 2017 SCBGP Request for Proposals, ODA has introduced a single phase process known as the Grant Proposal Application. ODA is requesting 15-page grant proposals from applicants describing their proposed projects. Proposals can be submitted online and must be received by Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 12:00 noon Pacific Standard Time.
ODA will offer online training to provide applicants with an in-depth look at the program and explain the grant writing process step-by-step. Details, including when the online training will be posted, can be found on ODA’s website: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/MarketAccess/SpecialtyCrop/Pages/SpecialtyCrop.aspx
Based on a survey of specialty crop producers, associations, commissions, and other stakeholders to determine priority needs, the following 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding priorities have been identified:
- Market Development and Access for international, regional, domestic, and local/farm direct markets
- Certification programs
- Food safety compliance and traceability
- Improving efficiency of distribution systems
- Addressing pest and disease management issues
- Training and equipping the next generation
- On-farm labor needs, workforce programs or tools
- Productivity enhancements, innovation, value added products
- Agriculture and food-related priorities identified by Oregon Solutions Network Regional Solutions Centers
Projects not addressing one of the identified priorities are still eligible for funding, as long as they meet all other program requirements. Details of the funding priorities can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/MarketAccess/SpecialtyCrop/Pages/ProgramFundingPriorities.aspx
In May, an industry advisory committee will evaluate proposals and make recommendations to ODA Director Alexis Taylor on the selection of the top ranked applicants. Selected applicants will be submitted to USDA in the Oregon State Plan Application. Projects chosen to receive funding will be announced by November 2017.
ODA and the advisory committee are looking for innovative proposals, and encourage interested parties to work regionally to submit collaborative project proposals that benefit Oregon growers and processors as well as partners in other states that share common specialty crops. Those who have received specialty crop grant funds in the past are also encouraged to apply, whether they are interested in building on an existing project or if they are proposing a new project.
Proposals may be submitted for a project within the suggested funding range of $25,000 to $175,000, and for a project timeline of up to two and a half years. Match funding is not a requirement of this program, however applicants are highly encouraged to provide some level of match to show the importance and value of the project and to show sustainability beyond SCBGP funds.
ODA staff is available to provide applicants an understanding of the 2017 granting process and requirements. Directions on submitting grant proposal applications and other information is available at <http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/MarketAccess/SpecialtyCrop/Pages/SpecialtyCrop.aspx> or by contacting ODA’s Agricultural Development and Marketing Program at (503) 872-6617