01-13-17 CDA: Grants Available to Benefit Colorado’s Specialty Crops

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Grants Available to Benefit Colorado’s Specialty Crops

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – 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.
“This grant program provides a great opportunity for producer groups, researchers and organizations to improve how they grow, process and market specialty crops,” said Glenda Mostek, CDA Marketing Specialist. “We hope our new application process this year will provide us with a wide variety of projects and applicants.”
In recent years, funds have been awarded to dozens of organizations to help implement research and consumer promotions.  These grants included Fort Lewis College to evaluate high altitude production of hops varieties and create grower alliances to assist with production and marketing, and Slow Food Denver to create youth farmers’ markets.
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 $500,000 will be available for this year’s grant program, with approved projects starting early in 2018. 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.
The grant application process has changed this year. The initial phase of grant selection will involve shorter, concept proposals. Concept proposals must be received electronically by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on March 1, 2017. For program guidelines and an application, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 869-9173.