Do You Grow Specialty Crops? $460,000 Available for 2023 Projects

Agriculture Secretary Russell ReddingCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding invites proposals for $460,000 in Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grants, created under the PA Farm Bill in 2019 and funded a fourth time in 2022-23. Eligible projects stimulate market growth and advance the competitive position of crops designated as a high priority for their potential to feed Pennsylvania’s economy and boost environmental sustainability.

“These PA Farm Bill grants are strategic investments in Pennsylvania’s future,” Secretary Redding said. “Pennsylvania hardwoods supply the world with sustainable, quality building materials. Fiber hemp restores soil and sources sustainable materials from plastics and clothing to construction materials and auto parts. Hops and brewing grains are critical to our top-ranking craft brewing industry. These products are feeding our progress.”

Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grants enhance, rather than replace federal block grants. Priority for funding is for those crops that are ineligible for federal funds and designated as high priority in Pennsylvania: hemp, hardwoods, and honey; and hops, barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting. Eligible projects boost the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crops, for example, through research to increase conservation and environmental outcomes, enhance food safety, develop new and improved certified seed varieties, or improve pest and disease control.

A percentage of funds will be designated to projects in rural communities with at least 20 percent of the population below the federal poverty line.

Previously funded projects include assessing disease impacts on hemp, protecting hardwoods from spotted lanternflies, teaching brewing crop techniques, teaching grading and selection of hardwood lumber, assessing the environmental impacts of hemp, and promoting green jobs in the forest products industry.

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A summary of eligibility and potential uses of funding can be found at agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill. Full grant guidelines can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 29 edition. Project proposals must be received by 5:00 PM on December 2, 2022.

Proposals must be submitted through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application. Applicants with questions about eligible projects or procedures should contact Lauren Stackhouse at lastackhou@pa.gov or 717.614.5730.

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