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.
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.
Specialty Crops Definition
U.S. statute  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.
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
Applicants whose projects support farmers markets, farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and other direct marketing opportunities should consider submitting those projects to the Farmers Market Promotion Program or Local Food Promotion Program
VAAFM awards Vermont SCBGP funds through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. Grants may be awarded for projects up to 2 years, 6 months in length. Although awards are not capped, successful proposals are often awarded between $10,000 and $30,000 per project year. 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.
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 Participating State department of agriculture.
How to Apply
- Download the 2019
- Review the WebGrants Application Guide. and the
- Attend or view the Vermont SCBGP Information Session webinar.
- Submit your letter of intent (LOI) in WebGrants by February 25, 2019.
We will hold a webinar for potential applicants on Friday, January 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM. Register for the Vermont SCBGP Information Session webinar at bit.ly/scbgpwebinar19.
Deadlines & Key Dates
|January 14, 2019||Request for Proposals (RFP) released|
|January 25, 2019
11:00 AM–12:00 PM
|SCBGP Information Session Webinar
Register at bit.ly/scbgpwebinar19
|February 25, 2019
|Deadline to a submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)|
|March 2019||LOI applicants notified|
|April 2019||Deadline to submit a full application
Invited applicants only
|May 2019||Applicants notified of funding decisions|
|May 2019||Vermont Agency of Agriculture submits State Plan to USDA-AMS|
|August 2019||Grantees notified of AMS decisions
Adjustments may be required
USDA announces final awards
- Annual Performance Report Template
- Annual Performance Report Examples
- Final Performance Report Template
- How to Submit a Claim in WebGrants
- WebGrants Application Guide
 Section 101 of the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (7 U.S.C. 1621 note) and amended under section 10010 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, Public Law 113-79 (the Farm Bill)