RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting applications for grants to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops.
According to a release, VDACS has $550,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants for which industry and producer groups, agricultural associations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and nonprofits can apply.
"I encourage producer groups to take advantage of this opportunity to advance specialty crops production and research in Virginia," said VDACS Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh. "These grants help increase the potential for positive, long-term economic benefits for our agriculture industry, provide food options for a growing global population, and increase our focus on the incredible diversity of crops that can be cultivated in the Commonwealth."
The release says grant proposals must be specific and explain how the organization will use the funds to enhance the competitiveness of an eligible crop.
Approved projects may receive up to $60,000 for research, promotion, marketing plans, food safety projects and projects to improve access among others.
Specialty crops are categorized as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops that are not typically covered by traditional crop insurance.
They do not include standard commodities like corn, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, cotton or tobacco.
VDACS says priority will be given to some projects based on how they pertain to certain issues.
One such issue is enhancing food safety, which improves the capacity of all entities in the crop distribution chain to meet food safety requirements.
Another involves investing in research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes and developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops.
Pest and disease control projects may also be eligible, as can projects to increase child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
Applications are due by March 18. They can be submitted by mail to VDACS, Specialty Crop Grants Application, 102 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at the link in the Related Links box.