The Arkansas Agriculture Department is accepting applications for grants to fund specialty crops in the state.
The applications will be considered for inclusion in Arkansas’ grant proposal for funds provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program as a result of the Agricultural Act of 2014, a news release from the department states.
$350,000 may be available to Arkansas through the program, and the funds will be administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
State corporations, commodity associations, nonprofit organizations, state and local government entities and colleges and universities are eligible for the funds under grant guidelines, the release states.
The applicants, their business or educational affiliation must be located in Arkansas.
According to the statement, applicants are asked to submit proposals for projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops — which include fruits, vegetables, floriculture and nuts — by:
• Assisting entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing Good Agricultural, Good Handling and Good Manufacturing practices, including cost share arrangements for funding audits of small farmer, packer and processor systems.
• Increasing the consumption of specialty crops by improving child and adult knowledge.
• Increasing the competitiveness of Native American and disadvantaged farmers in producing specialty crops.
• Improving access to specialty crop produce in underserved communities.
• Enhancing food safety.
• Investing in specialty crop research.
• Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.
• Developing new and improved specialty crop varieties.
• Eradicating pest and plant health issues.
• Fostering organic and sustainable production practices.
• Developing local and regional food systems.
Applications must be received by May 30, and questions may be directed to Zachary Taylor, director of marketing, at (501) 219-6324 or by email at Zachary.Taylor@aad.ar.gov.
Application packets are available at www.aad.arkansas.gov.