$102.7 Million Available to Help Expand Specialty Crops

USDA Funding Program to Help Support Local Projects

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Specialty crop growers in California may be able to use part of the $102.7 million available to support local projects and to help expand markets for specialty crops.

“Every state has agricultural priorities that contribute to the well-being of farm families, consumers and the economic health of rural America,” said Under Secretary Greg Ibach in a recent press release. “These programs target resources to the state, local and regional level where the people who understand the issues best can find solutions that help everyone.”

Resources to be apportioned include:
  • $72.15 million is directed to state departments of agriculture in 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to support farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. States use the grant to fund research, agricultural extension activities and programs to increase demand for agricultural goods of value to farmers in the state or territory.
  • $13.35 million is directed to 49 projects supporting direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agri-tourism through the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
  • $13.45 million is directed to 44 projects to support the development and expansion of local and regional food businesses to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets through the Local Food Promotion Program.
  • $1.1 million is awarded for nine projects through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.

For more information about these programs, visit www.ams.usda.gov

California State Fair announces first Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

Source: CDFA

The California State Fair is expanding its commercial competitions for 2015 to include a competition for extra virgin olive oil. Of all the olive oil produced in the United States, California produces 99 percent of it.

Extra virgin olive oils in more than 15 different classes and divisions, including blends and flavored olive oils will be judged during the competition. The entry deadline is April 1, 2015. The California State Fair Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is open only to California olive oil producers.

From July 10-26 the State Fair will feature a special California extra virgin olive oil exhibit with the award-winning extra virgin olive oils on display, interactive educational exhibits, free tastings and market research surveys.

On average, the world consumes approximately 2.25 million tons of olive oil each year and annual consumption in the United States has increased from 30 million gallons to nearly 70 million gallons a year over the last two decades.

Producers wishing to enter the Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition should visit CAStateFair.org to view the competition handbook for rules and entry information.

This project is supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is funded by the USDA and administered by CDFA. The goal of the project is to promote the awareness and availability of award-winning California extra virgin olive oils.

USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Welcomes Proposals and Technical Committee Volunteers

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting proposals for the 2015 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which conducts an annual competitive solicitation process designed to enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops–fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $450,000 per project with a duration of up to two years and nine months. Non-profit and for-profit organizations; local, state, federal, and tribal government entities; and public and private colleges and universities are eligible to apply.

Phase I of the competitive process begins with the submission of concept proposals. Concept proposals undergo both an administrative review conducted by CDFA as well as a technical review conducted by a volunteer panel of subject matter experts. Successful applicants will be invited to submit detailed grant proposals in Phase II of the process.

Details:  Applicants must access the 2015 Request for Concept Proposals at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants for detailed application instructions. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA has partnered with the California State Water Resources Control Board to utilize their online application site, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). Applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov.

Concept proposals must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Friday, December 5, 2014, at 5 pm PST, and applications must include a letter of interest, short biography, and statement of qualifications identifying the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding category related to the applicant’s area of expertise. For a description of the funding categories, please reference the 2015 Request for Concept Proposals at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.

If selected, individuals will be required to complete the Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests and the Ethics Training Course. Prospective applicants may contact CDFA’s Federal Funds Management Office at (916) 657-3231 or grants@cdfa.ca.gov for additional information.

2015 SPECIALTY CROP BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM WORKSHOPS

During the first two weeks of November, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will present four workshops and two webinars on the 2015 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) competitive solicitation process.

Workshops will feature an overview of the program, a walkthrough of how to use the online application system, a description of requirements for grant recipients, as well as helpful grant writing tips. All prospective SCBGP applicants are encouraged to participate.

There is no cost to attend the workshops or webinars; however, space is limited and CDFA requests that attendees register in advance. To reserve a seat, individuals planning to attend should email grants@cdfa.ca.gov with their contact information, number of seats required, and workshop location. Further details will be provided with confirmation of registration.

Workshops and webinars will be held on the following dates:

FRESNO COUNTY: November 4, 2014 (Tuesday) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am
 – American Pistachio Growers, 9 River Park Place East, Suite 410, Fresno, CA 93720

SACRAMENTO COUNTY: November 5, 2014 (Wednesday) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am
 – University of Phoenix, 2860 Gateway Oaks Drive, Sacramento, CA 95833

WEBINAR 1: November 6, 2014 (Thursday) from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm – Details will be provided upon registration.

ALAMEDA COUNTY: November 12, 2014 (Wednesday) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am – 
Alameda County Farm Bureau, 638 Enos Way, Alameda, CA 94551

MONTEREY COUNTY: November 13, 2014 (Thursday) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am – Grower-Shipper Association, 512 Pajaro Street, Salinas, CA 93901

WEBINAR 2: November 14, 2014 (Friday) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am – Details will be provided upon registration.

CDFA conducts an annual competitive solicitation process to award SCBGP funds to projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of California specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).  For more information, please visit www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.