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DEM Announces $375,000 in Grants Available to Local Farms and Food Organizations

PROVIDENCE, RI The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is pleased to announce a competitive solicitation process to award around $375,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, nursery crops, floriculture including Christmas trees, cut flowers, honey, hops, and turf grass production.

Grant awards may be used for research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health, product development, education, "buy local" initiatives, and programs that provide for increased consumption and innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, and development of cooperatives.

"This competitive grant program will help strengthen markets for Rhode Island specialty crops and support local farming and food businesses," said Governor Dan McKee. "Consumer demand for locally-grown products is strong and is spurring growth in our state's farming industry. We encourage farmers and others working to promote the long-term viability of locally-grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, horticulture, and nursery crops to apply for this exciting funding opportunity."

"We're delighted to announce the availability of these awards, which support local specialty crop growers and their businesses and promote the long-term viability of agriculture in Rhode Island," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "The innovative projects that have been funded through this program have helped strengthen markets for specialty crops and foster growth in our state's farming industry."

Neither DEM nor the SCBGP requires a cost sharing or matching requirement. During the FY 2020 and 2021 funding cycles, the average amount of funding per award totaled $32,437 and $36,772, respectively. All projects are subject to the availability of funds. Grant funds cannot be expended before Sept. 30, 2022, or after Sept. 29, 2025. DEM reserves the right to offer an award amount less than the amount requested.

This program is funded under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and purpose of the SCBGP is to enhance the competitiveness of local specialty crops through increasing consumption through consumer awareness of Rhode Island-grown produce and plants through buy local promotions; creating new marketing opportunities for suppliers of Rhode Island produce and specialty crop plants through nontraditional markets; research and development to introduce new crops to RI producers to incorporate; increasing on-farm food safety practices and plants already grown and offered in Rhode Island. DEM has developed two funding tracks for the 2022 SCBGP. Track 1 is intended to fund larger traditional SCBG projects with no funding cap. Track 2 will be a mini-grant program funding $2,500-$10,000 proposals within three specific categories: COVID-19 related expense relief, food and produce safety, and digital media. Funding areas have been chosen to enhance the Rhode Island agricultural community. DEM prioritizes the advancement of innovative and inclusive agriculture, specifically funding projects and proposals that play an integral role in environmental justice communities, and the advancement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in agricultural production.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided flexibilities to grant applicants and grant recipients. Additional funding has been allotted to state SCBGP to assist farms with the impacts of COVID-19. Funds must still meet the requirements of SCBGP, but there is an emphasis on projects that COVID-19 assistance and relief.

Since 2016, DEM has awarded more than $800,000 in grants through this USDA program. SCBGP assists state departments of agriculture in the 50 States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Visit our website for more information on the DEM SCBGP.

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 02-17-2022

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