Proposal Deadline: May 1, 2015 - 4:00 p.m.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture has been allocated funds next federal fiscal year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These funds will support projects that are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry.
Illinois currently devotes more than 100,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produce nearly $400 million in sales for Illinois farmers. To encourage further expansion of this industry, and to take full advantage of the allocated funds, the department invites the development of projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:
- enhancing food safety;
- assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing “Good Agricultural Practices," “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers; packers and processors;
- investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
- developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
- improving pest and disease control to further the development of organic and sustainable production practices;
- increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
- improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
- developing local and regional food systems; and
- improving food access in underserved communities.
Grants will be awarded through a competitive review process that includes the use of an independent committee of stakeholders from the agricultural community. Project proposals are due May 1, 2015, at 4 p.m.
Program Contact Information
Illinois Department of Agriculture
State Fairgrounds, 801 E. Sangamon Ave.
Springfield, IL 62794-9281