Goehring announces availability of additional specialty crop block grant funding

Michelle Mielke

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced that applications are again being accepted for 2021 Specialty Crop Grants due toadditional one-time funding from a COVID-19 stimulus package passed by Congress in late 2020.

“Projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in North Dakota are eligible for these grants,” Goehring said. “We encourage organizations, institutions and individuals to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.”

North Dakota has not yet received an allocation amount from USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service but is expected to receive it in the next few weeks. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) will distribute the funds through a competitive grant program.

Eligible applications include enhancing food safety; pest and disease control; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act; investing in specialty crop research, improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; and sustainability. Projects that directly benefit specific, commercial products or profit a single organization, institution or individual are not eligible.

The USDA defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.” Specialty crops grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, potatoes, confection sunflowers, grapes, honey and various vegetables.

Goehring said an information manual with application instructions, scoring criteria and an application template can be found on NDDA’s website: https://www.nd.gov/ndda/scbgp.

Applications must be submitted in electronic form by 4 p.m. CDT Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Applications will then be reviewed, scored, ranked and provided to Agriculture Commissioner Goehring to determine which applications will be forwarded to USDA for final approval in May of 2021.

Projects funded by the grants start Oct. 1, 2021 and must be completed by Sept. 30, 2023.

Goehring said persons needing more information should contact Deanna Gierszewski at (701) 328-2191 or scbg@nd.gov.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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