Agricultural associations, institutions and organizations can submit proposals that will help develop solutions to problems and respond to opportunities for growth within the specialty crop industry across state boundaries through a new program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service’s 2015 Specialty Crop Multi-State Program compliments the existing and successful Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for state-specific specialty crop work. The multi-state program expands those opportunities for grant funding to work that crosses state boundaries, whether for regionally-centered specialty crops or ones spread across the country.

Pennsylvania is one of 18 states selected to participate in the competitive $3 million grant program. Interested specialty crop groups can submit full proposal applications to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Participating state departments of agriculture are the only entities that may submit program applications.

“Specialty crops are an increasingly important sector of production agriculture, and the 2014 Farm Bill provides additional support for those crops through the new Specialty Crop Multi-State Program,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “After strengthening specialty crops at the state level, meeting the challenges specific to varied regions, crops, and markets is the next logical investment. I thank the USDA for providing this program and encourage all those eligible to develop grant proposals and apply.”

The program is designed to support food safety and research; address plant pests, disease, and crop-specific issues; and increase marketing opportunities for specialty crops which include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to receive updates on the application process in the coming weeks. Deadline for application submission is November 30. Send the completed application to Morgan Sheffield, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Market Development, 2301 N. Cameron St., Room 310, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408. Call 717-787-3568 or email msheffield@pa.gov with questions.