The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting proposals for the 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program designed to enhance the competitiveness of the Golden State’s specialty crops.

Up to $17 million will be made available to award grant amounts ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 per project. CDFA receives funding for this grant program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Agricultural Marketing Service. 

The competitive solicitation process begins with submission of concept proposals by eligible non-profit organizations; local, state and federal government entities, including tribal governments; for-profit organizations; public and private colleges and universities. Successful applicants will be invited to participate in phase two of the solicitation process, submission of a grant proposal.

Applicants must access the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants for detailed solicitation and application instructions. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the California State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application site using the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). All applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov.

All concept proposals must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 at 5 p.m. PST.

For purposes of this program, specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA’s Federal Funds Management Office at 916-657-3231 or grants@cdfa.ca.gov.