Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The grants must be used to support projects that promote specialty crops grown in Iowa.

“Iowa farmers grow diverse crops that can be found in stores and markets across the state. Supporting efforts that improve specialty crop production and expand demand will positively impact producers and consumers,” Naig said. “These grants allow organizations to highlight Iowa grown specialty crops in a unique way.”

Grant funds will be targeted toward projects that enhance the competitiveness and growth of the specialty crop industry. Eligible specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.

Successful grant applications will explain how projects will improve specialty crop production through marketing and promotions, research and development, expanding availability and access to specialty crops, and addressing local, regional, and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers.

All projects must have an educational component. Preference will be given to projects that have the potential to significantly expand, enhance, and improve production and demand.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, producers, industry associations, and community-based organizations are eligible to apply. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

Grant applications for projects that directly benefit a particular product or generate a profit for a single organization, institution, or individual will not be awarded.

Awardees may receive up to $24,000, and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months.

Proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture on or before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11. For more information, visit the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

The Department is again establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the department. Those interested in participating in the Review Committee should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience, and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. 

Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates, and an application form can also be found on the department's website. Applications to participate in the Reviewer Committee are due by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

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