The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced a request for proposals through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Ag Marketing Services.

The program is designed to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan's specialty crops. Grant proposals must be submitted in the MiAgGrants System by 11:59 p.m., February 8, 2024.

There will be an informational webinar addressing the grant opportunity on December 21, 2023, at 9 a.m., with no preregistration required. Visit our website for the link to join this webinar.

The grants have a maximum award of $100,000 for research proposals and $125,000 for marketing, training, and education proposals designed to enhance the competitiveness of the state's specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. A full list of specialty crops can be found on USDA's website.

The awarded grants will be funded by traditional farm bill funding, and the program's funding priorities are:

  • Market Enhancement to promote specialty crops
    • Market Expansion, Availability, and Access to Specialty Crops
    • Farm to Institution
  • Research and Development relevant to specialty crops
    • Plant Health & Pest Management
    • Farm Sustainability
  • Training & Education addressing local, regional, and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.
    • Enhancing Food Safety
    • Environmental Sustainability
    • Workforce/Labor

Acceptable proposal activities include but are not limited to promotion, marketing, research, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, increased knowledge and consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency, and reduced costs of distribution systems; environmental concerns and conservation; product development; good agricultural practices; good handling practices; and good manufacturing practices.

Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, local, state, and federal government entities, and for-profit organizations. The organizations must be legal entities recognized by the IRS, and applicants must reside and/or conduct their business in Michigan. Proposals should demonstrate how the project will potentially produce measurable impacts for the specialty crop industry as a whole and not benefit only a specific product or a single organization, institution, or individual.

Those interested in applying for the grant program should visit the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program website for additional details. All applications must be submitted through the MiAgGrants System. The grants are contingent on USDA approval of federal funding, which is expected in February of 2024.

Source: michigan.gov