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
- 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.
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
- 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.
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 15, 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
USDA announces final awards
- WebGrants Application Guide
- How to Submit a Claim in WebGrants
- Annual Performance Report Template
- Annual Performance Report Examples
- Final Performance Report Template
 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)