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Washington growers applying for federal crop block grant money in 2015 will have a larger pool than the previous year. With nearly $4 million expected to be available this year, the state may fund more than the 27 projects that were accepted in 2014.

Applicants must submit a brief proposal to the Washington State Department of Agriculture by 4 p.m. on February 26 to specialtycrop@agr.wa.gov.

 For more information read the full press release below.

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$4 million up for competition in specialty crop grants through WSDA

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is accepting proposals for new projects to support the state’s fruit, vegetable and nursery industry through the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Proposals are due to WSDA by 4 p.m. Feb. 26.

WSDA manages the grants, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). About $4 million will be available to support Washington’s specialty crop industry.

Private and non-profit organizations, commodity commissions and other public entities may request funds for projects of $25,000 to $250,000 that benefit the competitiveness of fruit, vegetable, tree nut and nursery crop producers.

The first step in applying for a grant is to submit a brief concept proposal using a form provided by WSDA. The proposals should be sent to specialtycrop@agr.wa.gov for review by WSDA. Successful applicants will be asked to submit full proposals for further review. Visit www.agr.wa.gov/grants/scbgp for application information, forms and the milestone schedules. For additional information, go to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp or contact WSDA’s Leisa Schumaker at lschumaker@agr.wa.gov or (360) 902-2091.

Based on feedback from Washington’s specialty crop industries, WSDA is seeking projects that promote international and domestic trade, control pests and diseases, reduce regulatory barriers, sustain and enhance the agriculture workforce, develop organic and sustainable production practices, increase the number of new specialty crop farmers and processors, improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems, and increase production through innovative technologies.

Projects that benefit Washington’s specialty crop producers and food processors in other ways or that benefit new farmers or socially disadvantaged farmers are also encouraged.

Washington ranks third in the nation in production of specialty crops and last year funded 27 projects (PDF) under USDA’s specialty crop program. USDA will announce their awards this fall and WSDA grant agreements will be issued soon after.