Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Program News

January 15, 2020 | Montpelier, VT - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces the availability of grant funds for the purpose of strengthening Vermont’s specialty crop industries and improving the performance of Vermont specialty crops within local, domestic, and international markets. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture).  Interested applicants must submit a pre-application by February 26, 2020. Read more ... 

Applications are now open for the 2020 Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program! Download the 2020 Vermont SCBGP Request for Applications (RFA) to apply. 

Program Background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont and regionally grown specialty crops.

Program Purpose

Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by–

  1. leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops;
  2. assisting producers with research and development relevant to specialty crops;
  3. expanding availability and access to specialty crops; and
  4. addressing local, regional, and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.

Specialty crops are fruits and tree nuts; vegetables; culinary herbs, spices, and medicinal plants; nursery, floriculture, horticulture, and Christmas trees; honey; hops; maple syrup; and mushrooms.1

Eligibility

Any business, organization, or individual can apply to the Vermont SCBGP. However, projects must benefit more than one specialty crop business, organization, or individual to be eligible for funding. 

In addition, applicants must follow USDA guidelines for eligible costs. See Appendix B: Allowable Costs & Activities, in the 2020 VT SCBGP Request for Applications for an overview of these guidelines.

Specialty Crops Definition

U.S. statute [1] defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Eligible processed products must consist of greater than 50% of the specialty crop by weight, exclusive of added water. For specific crop eligibility, visit What is a Specialty Crop? AMS supports projects that address the needs of U.S. specialty crop growers and strengthen local and regional food systems.

Project Types

USDA encourages projects to address the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • ​Enhancing food safety
  • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, by developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
  • Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops
  • Pest and disease control
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
  • Sustainability
Award Information
  • We award SCBGP funds through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders.
  • There is no minimum or maximum award; however, we competitively award around $200,000 total each year. 
  • Over the past 7 years, we competitively awarded individual projects between $5,000 and $58,000. The average award over this period was around $24,000, and 50% of awarded projects received between $12,000 and $33,000.
  • We will award grants for projects up to 2 years, 6 months in length.
Multi-State Partnerships

A multi-state partnership is a project that implements activities with measurable outcomes that benefit two or more U.S. States and/or Territories. Multi-state partnerships are encouraged and should provide solutions to problems that cross state boundaries including, but not limited to, food safety; plant pests and disease; research; crop-specific projects addressing common issues; and marketing and promotion. Applicants with multi-state partnership projects may also consider submitting those projects to the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP) via a Participating State department of agriculture.


How to Apply

  1. Download the 2020 Vermont SCBGP Request for Applications (RFA)
  2. Review the Vermont SCBGP Terms and Conditions and the WebGrants Application Guide.
  3. Attend or view the Vermont SCBGP Information Session webinar (more info below).
  4. Submit your pre-application in WebGrants by February 26, 2020. ​
Information Session

VAAFM conducted an information session webinar for prospective applicants on Thursday, February 6th, 2020 at 11 AM. Click here to view the webinar slides. 

Deadlines & Key Dates
January 15, 2020 Request for Applications (RFA) released

February 6, 2020 at 11:00 AM to NOON

SCBGP Information Session Webinar
View the webinar slides here.
February 26, 2020 Deadline to submit a Pre-Application
March 2020 Pre-applicants notified
April 2020 Deadline to submit a full application
Invited applicants only
May 2020 Applicants notified of funding decisions
May 2020 Vermont Agency of Agriculture submits State Plan to USDA-AMS
August 2020 Grantees notified of AMS decisions
Adjustments may be required
October 2020 USDA announces final awards

 

Guides & Templates

 

[1] Section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note) and amended under section 10107 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-343 (the Farm Bill.)

Program Contact

Gina Clithero
AGR.SpecialtyCrops@vermont.gov
(802) 585-6225

WebGrants Technical Assistance

Melissa Moon
melissa.moon@vermont.gov
(802) 828-3828

Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901
802.828.2430

 

Program Contacts

  • Media Inquiries                      802.622.4662
  • Licensing & Registration        802.828.2436
  • Business Development          802.828.1619
  • Feed, Seed, Fertilizer & Lime  802.828.2431
  • Working Lands                    802.622.4477
  • Public Health & Resource Management                802.828.2431
  • Laboratory                                  802.585.6073
  • Animal Health                        802.828.2421
  • Dairy                              802.828.2433
  • Consumer Protection / Weights & Measures                           802.828.2433
  • Produce Program                  802.522.3132
  • Meat Inspection                    802.828.2426
  • Water Quality                               802.828.2431
    • Farmer Assistance                    802.622.4098
    • Enforcement                                802.828.2431
    • Reports                                      802.272.0323
    • BMP's                                      802.828.3474
  • Act 250                          802.828.2431 
  • Pesticide                        802.828.2431