The Illinois Department of Agriculture has been allocated funds next federal fiscal year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These funds will support projects that are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry.
Illinois currently devotes more than 100,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produce nearly $500 million in sales for Illinois farmers. To encourage further expansion of this industry, and to take full advantage of the allocated funds, the Department invites the development of projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:
- Enhancing food safety;
- Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, by developing “Good Agricultural "Practices," “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors;
- Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
- Supporting the growth of organic specialty crops;
- Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
- Improving pest and disease control;
- Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; and
- Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
Grants will be awarded through a competitive review process that includes the use of an independent committee of stakeholders from the agricultural community. Project proposals are due April 26, 2019 at 4 p.m.
Program Contact InformationNicole Moore
Illinois Department of Agriculture
801 E. Sangamon Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702