The Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) is accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The SCBGP provides grants to specialty crop producers to promote the increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts and to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Arizona and other states.

The ADA anticipates that the grant monies will be available to successful applicants by late 2007 or early 2008. Grant awards are capped at $30,000 per grant. There is a total of approximately $260,000 available through this grant for specialty crop producers in Arizona.

The specialty crop industry annually accounts for more than $53 billion in cash receipts, close to 54 percent of the total cash receipts for crops nationally, yet specialty crop producers experienced lower than average income in 2003 due to higher energy and labor costs.

Arizona is the fifth largest producer in the nation of specialty crops.

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

The 2007 SCBGP grant application deadline is May 16, 2007. To view the 2007 SCBGP grant manual, go to www.azda.gov/Main/scbgp07grantmanual.pdf.

For more information, call (602) 542-0137.