Oregon Department of Agriculture has set a Feb. 24 deadline for proposals in the latest round of its special crop block grant proposals.
The agency will have $1 million to fund the applicants who provide successful proposals for the USDA 2014 Special Crop Block Grant program. Producers, ag groups, processors, commodity organizations, and local government agencies in the state are eligible to file for acceptance.
ODA requests a three-page proposal on the concept of the research, which have to be filed by noon on Monday.
Specialty crops that qualify include fruit, vegetables, nuts and nursery crops as well as most crop not covered by major USDA programs, such a wheat.
Since Oregon ranks fourth in the nation in production of such specialty commodities, USDA has provided a higher grant level to the state's producers than it did to states in which less specialty crop activity occurs.
Based on a survey of specialty crop producers, associations, commissions and other stakeholders to determine their priority needs, ODA provides the following listing of seven areas of focus for the program:
•Market development and access (international markets, local/regional/domestic markets, certifications)
•Food safety compliance and traceability
•Efficiency of distribution systems
•Prevention and management of pests and diseases
•Training and equipping the next generation
•On-farm labor needs
•Productivity enhancements and innovations
Projects not addressing an identified priority are still eligible for funding, as long as they meet other program requirements, notes ODA.
Oregon's Specialty Crop grant program includes an industry advisory board meeting in March to evaluate concepts presented in the proposals, and making recommendations to ODA Director Katy Coba. Selected applications will trigger a request from ODA to submit a more detailed proposal for the research grant.
Interested applicants should file their proposals online