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Grants available for specialty crops

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To help develop and promote the state's specialty crops, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is seeking proposals for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.

"Colorado produces a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and horticultural products," said Glenda Mostek, CDA marketing specialist. "This grant program provides a great opportunity to improve the economic well-being of Colorado specialty crop producers by investigating potential crops, fighting diseases, and introducing innovative farming techniques."

In recent years, funds have been awarded to dozens of organizations, helping them to conduct research and implement consumer promotions. These grants included funds for Colorado State University to investigate Aronia berries as an alternate crop for Colorado, and to the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee to study crop rotation to promote soil health.

The grant program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which partners with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.

CDA anticipates that approximately $550,000 will be available for this year's grant program, with approved projects starting early in 2019. Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Grants must impact the specialty crop industry as a whole and cannot solely benefit an individual farming operation or business.

The initial phase of grant selection will involve shorter concept proposals. Concept proposals must be received electronically by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on Feb. 1, 2018. For program guidelines and an application, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/specialtycropgrant or call (303) 869-9173.

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