CT DoAg Announces Funding for Specialty Crops
Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) Announces Funding Opportunities for Connecticut Specialty Crops Including New Priority Areas to Support BIPOC Producer Training, Career Development, and Service Provider Skills
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) is now accepting applications for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) for the 2024 program year. Applicants must submit a completed application by March 4, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. using Cognito Forms.
“Specialty crops are integral to Connecticut’s agricultural sector and since the inception of the program we have provided more than $6.8 million in funding to support 65 projects benefitting a wide array of specialty crop producers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Earlier this year we requested public comment on the funding priorities to ensure we are continuing to solicit projects addressing the needs of the industry. We are pleased to be incorporating three new priority areas this year which directly address recommendations from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Agriculture working group report which was released in 2023. We encourage eligible applicants to submit innovative projects with measurable outcomes to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.”
The three new priority areas directly addressing recommendations from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Agriculture working group report include:
- Programs for training, mentoring, apprenticeships, farmer circles, specialty crop conferences/stipends to support specialty crop farmers who identify as black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)
- Projects and programs which support agricultural career development for specialty crop farmers who identify as BIPOC
- Training programs for individuals who identify as BIPOC that are aspiring to become agriculture service providers but require additional training and exposure to agriculture
Additional funding priorities are:
- Research, development, and dissemination of innovative production practices to enhance farm viability, natural resource conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Market access (local, regional, national, or international), marketing, branding, and consumer education
- Producer collaboration—including establishing or strengthening producer associations and cooperatives
- Value chain enhancement—including strengthening relationships between producers, aggregators, processors, distributors, retail businesses, and consumers
- Pest and disease management
- Technical assistance to address efficiency, conservation, climate change, business viability, workforce development, labor issues, succession planning, and challenges facing beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers
- Enhancing food safety and improving the capacity of specialty crop businesses to comply with Food Safety Modernization Act or food safety audit program requirements
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in local, domestic, and foreign markets. Specialty crops are defined as any fruit or vegetable, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Also included is honey, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and processed foods/food products which are made of at least 50% specialty crops (excluding added water). An eligible plant must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered a specialty crop.
For more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, including grant guidance, application link, and project profile template, please visit the website, https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/ADaRC/Publications/Specialty-Crop-Block-Grant.
Eligible applicants include any Connecticut-based entity including commodity groups, agricultural organizations, colleges and universities, municipalities, state agencies, and agricultural nonprofits. Projects must benefit the industry as a whole and not a single organization, business, or commercial product. As a result, individual farms or businesses are encouraged to apply and partner with other eligible applicants rather than apply themselves. This is a reimbursement grant.
A recorded informational session will be made available for all interested applicants to receive an introduction to the Connecticut Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the 2024 application process. Questions regarding the Specialty Crop Block Grant can be directed to Michael Wolf at Michael.Wolf@ct.gov or 860-786-9567.
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental, and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state's citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state's economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:
Rebecca Eddy, Rebecca.Eddy@ct.gov