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Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 11:16 a.m. CST

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Feb. 21 announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is accepting grant applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.  The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa.

The Department is tentatively scheduled to receive approximately $271,000 in grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which is run by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.  This funding is contingent upon the federal funds being made available to the Department.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community based organizations are all eligible to apply for funding.  In addition, single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. 

Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months.

“Specialty crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.  Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.

Proposals must be received by IDALS on or before 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3, 2013.  For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department’s web site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp