The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is now accepting grant applications to grow the state’s specialty crop sector. These crops include fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops.
“I encourage groups interested in enhancing specialty crop production in Indiana to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Whether it’s applying individually or as part of a collaborative effort, these grants have the potential to create long-term, innovative solutions to some of the challenges facing producers today.”
The federally funded Specialty Crop Block Grant program works to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. Applications are open to academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, producer associations, community-based organizations and other specialty crop stakeholders.
According to the department, priority will be given to projects that address issues affecting the specialty crop sector, such as enhancing food safety, improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems, and developing new and improved seed varieties.
Grants will not be awarded to projects that benefit a particular commercial product, or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.
“There are research gaps and obstacles facing every agricultural sector, including specialty crops,” said Bruce Kettler, ISDA director. “This funding provides the opportunity to address some of those key issues, pursue more efficient production methods and increase consumption of our agricultural products.”
Indiana has not yet received the total allocation amount from USDA but that information is expected to be announced in the coming months.