Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Farm Bill

To increase fruit, vegetable, and nut consumption and improve the competitiveness of United States specialty crop producers.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

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Program Accomplishments


Uses and Use Restrictions

Projects must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Funds under this program may be used to support horticulture, including turfgrass sod and herbal crops; horticulture is not eligible under 10.169.

Use of funds will be monitored to ensure that funds are promoting specialty crops as defined under the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

State department of agriculture, agency, commission, or department of a State government responsible for agriculture within the State.

Guam, American Samoa, U.S.

Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands are eligible to receive grants under this program; they are not eligible under 10.169.

Beneficiary Eligibility

State department of agriculture, agency, commission, or department of a State government responsible for agriculture within the State.


A grant agreement is entered into between the Agricultural Marketing Service and the State department of agriculture that submits the application.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is not subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372, which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials.

See the Notice related to 7 CFR Part 3015, Subpart V published at 48 FR 29115 (June 24, 1983).

Application Procedures

The State department of agriculture submits SF-424 and a State plan identifying the lead agency charged with the responsibility of carrying out the plan and indicating how the grant funds will be utilized to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In developing their plans, States must take into consideration the views of beginners and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and take steps to perform outreach to these groups. State plans should be developed through a competitive process in order to ensure maximum public input and benefit. The States should develop a transparent process of receiving and considering public comment. States are encouraged to submit grant plans that include multi-State and regional project proposals.

Award Procedures

Applications are reviewed by the Agricultural Marketing Service. Grantees are notified of the amount awarded by allotment letter. Grant payments are made by the electronic transfer system.


The Agricultural Marketing Service annually publishes application dates and deadlines in the Federal Register.


Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, Section 101, 7 U.S.C. 1621 note; Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-246).

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

90 to 180 days from the application deadline.


No formal appeal procedure.


Awards are for 3 years. Additional time to complete the project may be requested.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Each State that applies is to receive $100,000 or 1/3 of 1 percent, whichever is equal to or higher of the total amount of funding made available in each fiscal year. In addition, each State will receive an amount that represents the proportion of the value of specialty crop production in the state in relation to the national value of specialty crop production using the latest available complete specialty crop production data set in all states whose applications are accepted. These requirements differ from the formula used for 10.169.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Funds are advanced in one lump sum. Applicants have up to 3 years to use the funds.

Post Assistance Requirements


Annual performance reports are required.

A final performance report and financial report are required within 90 days after the expiration date of the grant period.


The State is required to conduct an audit of the expenditures of specialty crop block grant funds. Not later than 30 days after completion of the audit, the State shall submit a copy of the audit results with an executive summary to the Agricultural Marketing Service.


The State shall retain financial and other records relating to the funds and these programs for a period of three years after expiration of the grant period or until final resolution of any audit findings or litigation claims relating to this program.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $0; FY 08 $10,000,000; and FY 09 est $49,000,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Project Manager, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, Department of Agriculture, Room 2086-S, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, DC 20250. Telephone: (202) 690-4942, Fax: (202) 690-0102.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Proposals are evaluated based on the potential for enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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