Colorado produces a wide variety of specialty crops, from peaches and apples to chiles and hops. To help develop and promote the state's specialty crops, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is seeking proposals for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.
"There's a lot to be gained by expanding the Colorado specialty crop industry," said Glenda Mostek, CDA Marketing Specialist. "These federal grants help provide additional consumer access to Colorado fruits and vegetables, improve the quality and availability of these products, and help ensure our specialty crop industry remains competitive."
In recent years, funds have been awarded to dozens of organizations to conduct research and implement consumer promotions. Previous projects include funding the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce to help promote Pueblo Chiles, the Colorado Dry Bean Administrative Committee to research new varietal development and Denver Urban Gardens to provide a venue for small urban farmers and other Colorado farmers to sell their specialty crops directly to consumers in low-income housing area.
The grant program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which partners with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.
CDA anticipates that approximately $550,000 will be available for this year's grant program, with approved projects starting early in 2017. Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Grants must impact the specialty crop industry as a whole and cannot be used to solely enhance an individual farming operation or business.
Proposals must be received electronically by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on April 15, 2016. For program guidelines and an application, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 869-9173.