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New Mexico specialty crop farmers eligible for federal grants

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David Beasley | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – New Mexico farmers of specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables and trees can apply for federal grants through the state Department of Agriculture.

"The specific purpose of the grants is to improve the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops and increase consumption of those crops potentially," Felicia Frost, the Agriculture Department's manager of marketing and sales, told The Center Square.

Some of the projects previously funded involved research studies and marketing.

New Mexico is expecting to receive around $500,000 for the grants, Frost said.

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"There is no maximum amount stipulated per applicant," she said. "But the typical grant last year requested ranged from about $22,000 to about $113,000."

Eight projects in New Mexico were funded last year, she said. The state typically receives anywhere from 15 to 40 applications.

Applications for the program are typically due in May with decisions in September, Frost said.

"The projects can start as early as October of this year," she said.

There is no match requirement although the grants are funded on a reimbursement basis, with farmers paying the costs upfront and then invoicing for those costs, Frost said. The funds can't be used for capital expenditures such as buildings or equipment.

"But we can pay for rental expenses for those things," she said.

The grants can't benefit just one producer or just one specialty crop, Frost said. 

"If the applicant can show that there is going to be a greater benefit beyond their organization this could be a potential for them to apply for," Frost said.

For example, research projects would have to include a way to share the results with other farmers, Frost said.