ODA now accepting concept proposals for 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

January 9, 2013... The Oregon Department of Agriculture is now accepting concept proposals for project ideas as part of US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for 2013. Approximately $1 million is expected to be available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, processors, commodity commissions, non-profits, for profits, and local government agencies in Oregon. Funding for Oregon's program is contingent upon federal funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

ODA is requesting three-page concept proposals from applicants describing their proposed projects. Concept proposals can be submitted online and must be received by Monday, February 18, 2013 at 12:00 noon Pacific Standard Time.

Specialty crops are defined as commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in production of specialty crops.

This month, ODA will host two webinars for applicants that provide an in-depth look at the program and explain the grant writing process step-by-step. Those interested can participate in either one-hour webinar– Tuesday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m. or Thursday, January 17 at 2:00 p.m.  Registration is available at <http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/ADMD/Pages/grants_spec_crops.aspx>.

In 2012, ODA surveyed specialty crop producers, associations, commissions, and other stakeholders to determine their priority needs. Based on feedback, ODA has identified the following seven areas as the 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding priorities:

·      Market development and access (international markets, local/regional/domestic markets, certifications)

·      Food safety compliance and traceability

·      Efficiency of distribution systems

·      Prevention and management of pests and diseases

·      Training and equipping the next generation

·      On-farm labor needs

·      Productivity enhancements and innovation

Projects not addressing one of the identified priorities are still eligible for funding, as long as they meet all other program requirements. Details of the funding priorities can be found at: <http://oregon.gov/ODA/ADMD/pages/grants_spec_crops.aspx#Project_Guidelines_and_Policies>.

Oregon’s Specialty Crop Grant program has a two-phase competitive process. In March, an industry advisory board will evaluate concept proposals and make recommendations to ODA’s Director on the selection of the top ranked applicants. Selected applicants will then be asked to submit full grant proposals for a second round of evaluation. Projects chosen to receive funding will be announced by November 2013.

ODA and the advisory board are looking for innovative proposals, and encourage interested parties to work regionally to submit collaborative project proposals that benefit Oregon growers and processors as well as partners in other states that share common specialty crops. Those who have received specialty crop grant funds in the past are also encouraged to apply, whether they are interested in building on an existing project or if they are proposing a new project.

Concept proposals may be submitted for a project within the suggested funding range of $25,000 to $100,000, and for a project timeline of up to two years. Applicants are highly encouraged to provide a dollar-for-dollar match.

ODA staff is available to provide applicants an understanding of the 2013 granting process and requirements. Directions on submitting concept papers and other information is available at <http://oregon.gov/ODA/ADMD/Pages/grants_spec_crops.aspx> or by contacting ODA’s Agricultural Development and Marketing Program at (503) 872-6600.

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Media contact:  Katie Pearmine at (503) 872-6600.