When it comes to supporting the American agricultural economy and its communities, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is all in. Here at AMS, we have several grant programs that producers and other organizations can utilize to help increase the competitiveness of their businesses.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is a unique partnership administered with the help of state departments of agriculture. Encouraging collaboration with schools and other local organizations to help promote specialty crops, it provides states funds to support creative projects. These grants are investments that will help sustain the livelihood of American specialty crop farmers and increase community access to fresh fruits and vegetables

Often these investments are made to help beginning and transitioning specialty crop farmers get on their feet. In 2009, the California Department of Food and Agriculture worked with California FarmLink to offer business planning and succession planning services to underserved farmers in the state. With the help of one of our grants, the organization was able to provide a series of workshops and networking sessions for nearly 900 participants, planting seeds for their future success.

We enjoy working with states like California to help support specialty crop farmers. Last year, we invested in 55 specialty crop block grants that funded 740 initiatives across the country including the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We hope that you are as excited as we are about the upcoming 2012 grant year and that you are anxiously waiting to submit your applications.

Proposals for the 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant funds will be accepted until July 11, 2012.  Before you submit your application, we encourage you to visit our site to familiarize yourself with the grant rules and procedures as well as look at some previous projects.