Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Program News

October 7, 2019 – The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces grants totaling $305,929 for eight projects to benefit Vermont fruit, vegetable, and value-added producers and increase consumer access to locally produced food. These grants, funded through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), were awarded to seven agricultural organizations to undertake a range of technology development, research, education, marketing, and program-building projects. The grants will leverage an additional $203,468 in matching funds. Read more ... 

The 2020 Vermont SCBGP Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released in January 2020. 

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


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 2019 VT SCBGP Request for Proposals 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 5 years, we have awarded projects in the range of $5,000 to $75,000. The average award over this period was around $30,000, and over 75% of awarded projects received between $20,000 and $40,000.
  • 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 2019 Vermont SCBGP Request for Proposals (RFP).
  2. Review the Vermont SCBGP Terms and Conditions and the WebGrants Application Guide.
  3. Attend or view the Vermont SCBGP Information Session webinar.
  4. Submit your letter of intent (LOI) in WebGrants by February 25, 2019. ​
Information Session

The program held a webinar for potential applicants on January 25, 2019. Register to view the recording of the Vermont SCBGP Information Session webinar at bit.ly/scbgpwebinar19.

Deadlines & Key Dates
January 14, 2019 Request for Proposals (RFP) released
January 25, 2019 SCBGP Information Session Webinar
View the recording at bit.ly/scbgpwebinar19
February 25, 2019 Deadline to a submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)
March 2019 LOI applicants notified
April 21, 2019
Deadline to submit a full application
Invited applicants only

May 2019

Applicants notified of funding decisions
May 24, 2019 Vermont Agency of Agriculture submits State Plan to USDA-AMS
August 2019 Grantees notified of AMS decisions
Adjustments may be required
October 2019

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
(802) 585-6225

WebGrants Technical Assistance

Diana Ferguson
(802) 622-4094

Melissa Moon
(802) 828-3828

Contact Information

Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

116 State Street
Montpelier, Vt 05620-2901

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