Monday, June 15, 2009

Grant Program For Special Crops!

*Please note that the deadline to apply for this grant program is:

June 19, 2009

A new grant program has been announced to help fund projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. A competitive grant process to award these federal funds has been set up and over $1 Million has been earmarked! The intent is to fund projects that can produce the highest degree of measurable benefits to the state's specialty crop producers in relation to each dollar spent.

Projects that benefit the following specialty crops are eligible; Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops are eligible specialty crops. Funding Priorities for the grant program include, but is not limited to: Research and Extension, Marketing, Food Safety, and Sustainability.

Applications are being sought from organizations that seek to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state including; non-profit organizations and corporations, commodity associations, state and local government entities, colleges, and universities. Applicants must reside or their business or educational affiliation must be in the state.

Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

Grant applications must be submitted by 5 pm on June 19, 2009. Please use this link to access the grant application, guidelines, and additional information.

Grant applications with a value of up to $100,000 will be accepted! Grants will be awarded for up to three years. Once all applications are submitted, each one will be carefully reviewed and evaluated based on the criteria listed in these guidelines. All approved projects will then be developed into one grant submission to the USDA. Upon approval from USDA, the organization will notify applicants (sub-grantees) of their status. No final awards to any sub-grantee will be made until a final grant award is made by the USDA. Final approval is expected by September 30, 2009, but is subject to change.

For questions or additional information contact via snail mail address or email

How Would You Like

To Have $25,000

To Start A Business

Of Your Own?

Finalists for a small business grant have been named! So far 50 finalists have been chosen for this year's competition! Each finalist will receive a $5,000 business grant, plus additional products and services!

Judges selected the finalists from more than 1,900 submissions. The finalists hail from 43 cities in 23 states, coast to coast, and range from architects and accountants to restaurateurs and retailers.

In addition, videos submitted will also be evaluated.

Selection of the grand prize and runner-up winners will be based on quality, creativity and ratings from the public. The public opinion will account for 40 percent of the overall score and is based on whether the videos are inspiring, useful or funny.

The general manager of this group has said, "These finalists truly reflect the can-do spirit of small business and America's entrepreneurs. It was tough for the judges to narrow the list from the nearly 2,000 entries we received. We appreciate all of the businesses that entered the competition, for sharing their stories of inspiration and aspiration, and bringing the small business community together over the past few months."

For more information about this program and for more information on the finalists you can visit their website to find out more.

Grant Program For Farmers

(Yes, ANOTHER one!)

Please note that this specific grant program is a 50/50 matching grant program for farmers and ranchers.

This grant program was started because it helps fund planning and working capital to get new ideas off the ground and put more profit in the pockets of family farmers and ranchers.

This is a competitive grants program administered at the USDA to help producers move into value-added agricultural enterprises. Authorized in the 2002 farm bill, this program aims to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers in planning and capital investment for value adding enterprises.

The most recent information on funding availability and applications is available through your state USDA Office. For state contacts and more information please go to the website.

The specific government office was instrumental in helping to create an expanded value added grant program in the 2002 farm bill to include not only processing but by adding value by how agricultural products are grown or raised, e.g. organic, grass-fed. They helped shape the grant program from a $10 million/year grant program to its current authorized level of $40 million (appropriations have been less in recent years). Since that time, the office has seen an outpouring of interest and demand for this program from farmers and ranchers around the country who are developing businesses that grow their income and bring much needed jobs to their communities.|

These innovative initiatives have strengthened the viability of small and mid-sized farms and ranches and have allowed farms and ranches to grow businesses around production practices that benefit the environment and our natural resources.

The Grant Program

Applicants for the grant must meet fairly strict requirements outlined in the Notice of Solicitation of Applications to be eligible for funding. If you are an independent producer, a farmer or rancher cooperative, agricultural producer group, or a majority-controlled producer-based business venture, you are eligible to apply for this grant.

The specific government office provides definitions for each of these categories, along with other requirements of the program. We strongly recommend that you locate a resource person in your county, state or region that can give you some professional advice on your grant application, as well as your business ideas.

How Do I Start?

Now is a good time to check with your state office or your state’s Department of Agriculture about recent news or upcoming workshops about the program. They can provide information, applications and guidance on when and how to apply for a grant. Set up a meeting with your local government, educate them about your project, and ask them for information about the program.

All completed applications are submitted to the national office in Washington, DC for review by staff and independent reviewers. Points are assigned based on the evaluation criteria outlined. Other sources for information regarding related enterprises or how to apply can be found at the website. This website offers a broad range of information on value and added and direct marketing initiatives. Through links to centers around the country at the state level, the website makes available information on a broad range of issues.

Types of Grants

When applying for a grant, applicants must choose between two different types of activities for funding. Funding is available for:

  • Developing feasibility studies or business plans, which include marketing plans, or;

  • Working capital to operate a value-added business or alliance.

Applicants are eligible to apply for only one of these two types of grants each grant cycle. They do not penalize groups who go first for a planning then for a working capital grant.

Matching Funds

The program requires a one-to-one match. A cash match is defined as actual funds dedicated to the project. An in-kind match includes time, equipment, space, staff salaries, etc. Examples of a cash match might be third party contributions from groups, farm organizations or individuals donating cash towards a project; the salary of a person or persons working on a project (cash transaction); travel expenses to attend meetings or participate in training sessions; state appropriations or non-federal funds that have not been spent; bank financing; revolving loan funds; or county financing.

Examples of in-kind contributions include space; equipment; supplies, copies, telephone and other expenses which are dedicated to the project; volunteer time/unpaid services provided to a recipient by an individual or employee working on a project ( non-cash transaction); value of hours of non-federally funded personnel assisting with project, e.g. State Dept. of Agriculture, local economic development agencies, volunteer board members, etc; donation of office space or meeting rooms; or donation of inventory including equipment or buildings.

What Makes My Grant Proposal Likely to Be Funded?

The specifics include a list of evaluation criteria that are used to score applications for strength and merit. Reviewers award points to each application based on how well the applicant has addressed the requirements spelled out in the evaluation criteria. Understanding the evaluation criteria of the program is important and will help you to assess the strengths of your project and application.

Addition Information

The sponsors of this grant program are looking to identify a pool of independent reviewers who could be available to review value-added grants. People with backgrounds in organizing and managing value-added business ventures, writing grant proposals for value-added enterprises, and others who have a history with sustainable agriculture projects should contact the office via email.

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