The Oregon Department of Agriculture is accepting concept proposals for project ideas as part of USDA's Specialty Crop Grant Program for 2013.
About $1 million is available in the state under the federal grant program to help farmers, ranchers and others in agribusiness or living in rural communities run new programs for advancing their sales or improving the sustainable outlook for production.
ODA requests three-page concept proposals from applicants describing their projects by Feb. 18 at noon. ODA staff is available to provide applicants with an understanding of the program. Directions for submitting concept papers and other information is available online, or by contacting ODA's Agricultural Development and Marketing Program at (503) 872-6600.
Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, nuts and nursery commodities.
In 2012, ODA surveyed specialty crop producers, associations, commissions and other stakeholders in the industry to determine the priority needs of the businesses. Based on feedback, ODA has identified the following seven areas as the 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding priorities:
•Market development and access (international, local, regional, domestic markets, certifications.
•Food safety compliance and traceability of products back to origins.
•Efficiency of food distributions systems.
•Prevention and management of pests and diseases of crops.
•Training and equipping the next generation to farm.
•On-farm labor needs in the specialty crop industry.
•Productivity enhancements and innovations that help the industry keep in front of the completion.
Projects not addressing one of the identified priorities are still eligible for consideration for funding, as long as they meet other program requirements. Details of the funding priorities can be found here.
Oregon's Specialty Crop Grant program has a two-phase competitive process. In March, an industry advisory board will evaluate concept proposals and make recommendations to the ODA director. Selected applicants must then submit a full detail proposal grant for a second evaluation round.