Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne L. Alonzo announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking applications for the new Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP).  Created by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), this competitive grant program makes approximately $3 million available to state departments of agriculture to help develop solutions to problems affecting the specialty crop industry across state boundaries.

"By bringing together specialty crop stakeholders to address national or regional issues, the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program grants will help sustain the livelihoods of American farmers while strengthening the rural economy," said Alonzo. "These grants will contribute to food safety improvements, increased access to healthy food, and new research to help growers increase profitability and sustainability."

Administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the SCMP is designed to support food safety and research; address plant pests, disease, and crop-specific issues; and increase marketing opportunities for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.  USDA encourages states to submit projects related to the following priority areas: benefitting underserved communities and veterans, improving producers’ and facilities’ capacity to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, developing adaptation and mitigation strategies for farmers in drought-stricken regions of the country, increasing opportunities for new and beginning farmers, developing strong local and regional food systems, protecting pollinator habitats and improving pollinator health, and supporting the growth of organic specialty crops.

The program is open to state departments of agriculture in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These are the only entities eligible to submit SCMP proposals.  A SCMP project involves at least two partners located in different states. USDA encourages other state agencies, Tribal governments, universities, non-profits, and other specialty crop organizations to partner with participating state departments of agriculture on project proposals.   

A definition of specialty crops and complete list is available at the AMS website.  SCMP applications must be submitted to www.grants.gov by January 14, 2016, to be considered.

For more information visit the SCMP website: www.ams.usda.gov/scmp or contact Janise Zygmont by email: Janise.Zygmont@ams.usda.gov or phone: (202) 720-5024.

AMS will hold a teleconference to discuss the request for applications and take questions on Sept. 16, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Details will be posted at the SCMP website soon.