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Applications for crop block grants due by March 15

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP).

“A strong specialty crop sector is beneficial for all of Tennessee agriculture,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Tennessee is proud to administer this valuable program, providing assistance to large and small organizations by supporting projects ranging from research and education to market studies.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture administers the grants, which are authorized through the USDA. SCBGP funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, honey, floriculture, and other nursery crops.

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Eligible organizations include universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, and industry or community-based organizations. The program aims to support projects that directly affect multiple Tennessee producers and have a positive, long-lasting impact on Tennessee agriculture.

Previous grant funding assisted Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville to expand markets for Tennessee bush-type heirloom green beans. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant is a high-impact program focused on benefiting a wide range of Tennessee stakeholders,” Associate Professor of Plant Science Dr. Brian Leckie said.

Another grant recipient, Cul2vate, works to increase demand for specialty crops and provide education to future specialty crop growers in Middle Tennessee. “Through this grant, Cul2vate has been able to improve our training and education resources regarding specialty crops and emphasize their value to our local food chain,” Executive Director Joey Lankford said. “It has helped us concentrate our efforts toward outcomes that make us better and more productive as a farm.”

Eligible individuals and organizations must submit proposals using the 2021 project template. The project template, performance measures, and information required to apply are available online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/business-development/scbg.html.

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Proposals are due by March 15, 2021 and should be submitted by email to tn.scbg@tn.gov. First-time recipients have a funding limit of $25,000. Early submission is encouraged.

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