If you or a family member has been thinking about the possibility of adding specialty crops such as fruits vegetables or even tree nuts to your operation, there might be help available from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. But you need to act fast. The deadline to file an application is May 18.
In 2012, Kansas will receive $258,363 from a USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant program and the agriculture department is now accepting applications from farmers or organizations who would like to compete for a share of those funds.
The idea behind the program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which USDA defines as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture."
Specialty crop production in Kansas and many other states has been increasing as a result of a conscious effort to promote locally grown produce sold through Farmers' Markets or retail outlets, especially in areas that are close to metropolitan population centers.
Each state that submits an application that is reviewed and approved by the Agricultural Marketing Service is to receive at least an amount that is equal to the higher of $100,000, or 1/3 of 1 percent of the total amount of funding made available for that fiscal year. In addition, the Agricultural Marketing Service will allocate the remainder of the grant funds based on the value of specialty crop production in each state in relation to the national value of specialty crop production using the latest available cash receipt data.
Applications for the funds will be evaluated by a team of external reviewers. The team will rate proposals on their ability to successfully promote specialty crops in Kansas, and submit those recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture, who will make the final awards.
Applications are due to KDA no later than May 18, 2012. For more information, please download the 2012 application from http://www.ksda.gov/kansas_agriculture/content/281.