Grants available to help promote specialty crops

Proposals will be accepted through April 4 for a grant program that promotes the development of specialty crops in Colorado.

“Specialty crops are an important part of Colorado’s agriculture industry. These funds will help develop and promote the state’s diverse specialty crops,” said Tom Lipetzky, director of the markets division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Lipetzky said he expects that more than $680,000 will be available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program.

Speciality crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nursery crops. In 2010, cash receipts from specialty crops totalled more than $645 million, about 11 percent of total agricultural cash receipts in the state.

The grant program is funded through the USDA, which partners with state agricultural departments to promote the competitiveness of specialty crops through education, marketing, nutrition, promotion, research and trade.

“The department must submit a request outlining projects to the USDA in order to receive these funds,” Lipetzky said. “This application will determine which projects are included in our application to the USDA.”

Academia, associations, local and state organizations, producer groups and others are eligible to submit grant proposals either as single entities or in conjunction with other groups.

Proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate the potential benefits of a project to a broader group of producers, region or industry segment.

For more information about the grant program, call (303) 239-4117 or log on to www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant.