Proposals are encouraged from state and local organizations, academia, producer associations, industry or community-based groups, and other specialty crop organizations. Although individuals are eligible to apply, grant funds cannot be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual because these projects do not enhance the specialty crop industry’s competitiveness.
Projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of Mississippi grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets. Proposal activities and goals must focus on at least one of the Program Priority Areas as defined in the Request of Proposals.
Examples of “enhancing the competitiveness” of specialty crops include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
- Improving efficiency and reducing cost of distribution systems;
- Assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers, and processors;
- Investing in specialty crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
- Enhancing food safety;
- Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
- Pest and disease control; and
Specialty crop block grant funds will be made available around October 1 each year. Funded projects must be completed within twenty-four months.