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2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant

Grants to Texas Agencies, IHEs, Producers, Industry, and
Organizations to Enhance Markets for Specialty Crops

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Texas Department of Agriculture

Deadline Date:

02/21/18 Close of Business (5:00 PM CT) Receipt


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Grants to Texas government agencies, IHEs, community-based organizations, agricultural producers, and members of the agricultural industry to enhance markets for specialty crops. Consideration will be given to requests falling under the following five key focus areas: food safety, plant health, value-added and industry development, nutrition, and marketing.

Research projects in all focus areas should be applied research and results should be available to producers, processors and/or consumers within one (1) to two (2) years of the grant term date. Projects with a large research component will be evaluated on their ability to document and transfer results to the industry.

TDA may choose to use a portion of the funds for projects conducted internally, including, but not limited to, outreach activities, nutrition, regulatory or marketing. Internal projects will also be evaluated in the competitive process.

A. Food Safety

TDA will consider projects that assist production of specialty crop agricultural operations in continuing to supply the safest food in the world.

Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Assisting entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” or “Good Manufacturing Practices”
-Researching new methods to improve food safety
-Marketing or outreach to specialty crop producers/distributors regarding new or upcoming food safety requirements

B. Nutrition

TDA will consider projects that improve access to and consumption of specialty crops. Ensuring access to healthy foods in underserved low-income areas of Texas and increasing Texans’ access to and consumption of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts is a key strategy to improve human health.

All projects must increase the competitiveness of specialty crops and clearly demonstrate a benefit to the specialty crop industry. TDA will consider projects that integrate human health and nutrition into applications that show a direct impact on specialty crops.

Food Security - Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Increasing participation in under-utilized federal nutrition assistance programs
-Developing innovative projects that support local and regional food systems
-Improving access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in ways
that foster self-reliance, enhance dignity and assure environmental sustainability

Healthy Eating - Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Increasing consumption of specialty crops among all populations
-Developing farm-to-fork networks that include schools, worksites, retail, and
restaurant outlets to connect local agriculture with nearby communities
-Promoting and/or demonstrating the health benefits of Texas specialty crops

C. Plant Health

TDA will consider applications that address pests and diseases that affect the production of Texas’ specialty crops. This includes research related to the probability and impact of invasive pest, disease and weed threats to specialty crops and research to develop tools to detect, eradicate and control pests and disease. Results should be available to producers, processors or consumers within one to two years of grant term date.

TDA will also consider projects that enhance the conservation or improve the quality of agricultural land, water, habitat and biodiversity, as well as, applications that address specialty crops’ contribution to adaptation and/or mitigation of climate change.

Plant Health and Pest Challenges - Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Enhancing the speed and reliability of detection -Developing new tools for eradication
-Developing plants resistant to pests and disease -Evaluating organic and sustainable practices
-Environmental Concerns and Conservation Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Evaluating water use efficiency in regards to current drought conditions and for climate change adaptation
-Assisting growers to adapt to climate change by conducting research and demonstrating the implementation of strategies where technologies are already available - especially water use efficiency and invasive pest detection, control and management
-Accelerating implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP) for water conservation and efficiency, including development of a BMP manual for specific specialty crops

D. Value Added and Industry Development

TDA will consider projects that add to the value of specialty crops, or develop new ideas, tools or information that increase the benefit to the industry.

Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Providing support for development of value added processing facilities
-Strengthening specialty crop agricultural career technical education through establishment of certification programs for critical job training
-Improvement of distribution methods both domestically and internationally
-Evaluating industry feasibility or development of a new industry
-Conducting market research of consumer preference
-Researching a new tool to improve marketability
-Developing new and improved specialty crop variety/use, technology advancements and growing season extensions in an effort to diversify and strengthen specialty crop production

E. Marketing

TDA will consider projects that improve consumers’ knowledge and understanding of specialty crops through education and outreach. Additionally, TDA will consider projects that increase or develop long-term sales, consumption and competitiveness of specialty crop products, including international marketing and trade activities.

Agriculture Education/Outreach - Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Promoting Texas specialty crops and strengthening the connection between specialty crops and agriculture
-Extending science-based information to specialty crop growers and other key stakeholders
-Educating consumers about Texas’ specialty crops and agriculture
-Reconnecting communities with specialty crop production
-Educating the public about the identity and threat of invasive species to Texas specialty crops
-Promoting/marketing specialty crop certification and/or education program opportunities that further enhance critical job skills

Market Enhancement and Promotion - Project examples include, but are not limited to:
-Conducting statewide promotion and awareness activities of specialty crops
-Targeting specialty crop marketing concepts on the unique characteristics of local and regional areas such as culture, geography, history, and types of agricultural production
-Developing cooperative marketing and promotions such as cross-menu promotions of specialty crops
-Marketing agritourism as it relates to specialty crop
-Creating innovative consumer/trade promotions in foreign markets

Eligible ExpensesL

Generally, expenses that are necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient performance and administration of the project are eligible. Grant funds may not be used to supplant normal business costs but instead must be used to cover the costs incurred for the approved proposed activities.

Examples of eligible expenditures include:
1. Personnel costs – both salary and benefits directly related to project implementation;
2. Contracts – agreements made with a third-party to perform a portion of the award;
3. Travel – mileage reimbursement, transportation and lodging;
4. Capital Expenditures – Equipment that has a useful life of more than one year and a cost of more than $5,000. Capital Expenditures must be submitted for approval to TDA prior to expenditures/purchase. Failure to secure written approval from TDA will result in disallowance of the cost;
5. Supplies and direct operating expenses – items that cost less than $5,000 per unit with a useful life of less than one year, office supplies, postage, telecommunications, printing, etc. that are directly related to the project activities;
6. Controlled assets are defined as certain items valued $500.00 - $4,999.99 which must also be inventoried, Controlled Property Listing; and
7. Direct operating expenses (other) – any expenses that do not fall into the other categories directly related to the proposed activities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 140593

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Term of Contract:

Selected projects will be funded for work that must be completed between December 1, 2018 and September 30, 2020.

Research projects in all focus areas should be applied research and results should be available to producers, processors and/or consumers within one (1) to two (2) years of the grant term date.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:


Responses will be accepted from Texas state agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, or community-based organizations involved with, or that promote specialty crops.

-Grant applications must demonstrate that they will enhance the competitiveness of a Texas specialty crop industry.
-Grant funds may only be used for activities benefiting specialty crops.
-Grant funds must benefit more than one individual, institution or organization.
-Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.

Ineligible Expenses:

Certain expenses may be prohibited by state or federal law or determined to be ineligible by program guidelines. Some common ineligible expenses include but are not limited to the following:

1. Indirect Costs are limited to 8 percent of the total Federal funds provided under the award per §10010(4) of the Agricultural Act of 2014, Public Law 113-79. If TDA does not take the full 8 percent of indirect costs, individual subapplicants may claim the remaining portion of these costs at the discretion of TDA. At the time of the publication of this RFA, TDA will be taking the full 8 percent for indirect costs. Indirect costs will be deemed as an ineligible expense in both the grantee and subcontractor budgets;
2. Alcoholic beverages;
3. Entertainment;
4. Tips
5. Contributions, charitable or political;
6. Expenses falling outside of the contract period;
7. Expenses for items not listed in the project budget or that fail to meet the intent of the program;
8. Expenses that are not adequately documented;
9. Meal reimbursements related to travel, meetings, conferences or other events;
10. Advertising and Public Relations costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, general logo, or general brand rather than eligible specialty crops are unallowable;
11. Coupon/incentive redemptions or price discounts. Costs associated with printing, distribution, or promotion of coupons/tokens or price discounts (i.e., a print advertisement that contains a clip-out coupon) are allowable only if they solely promote the specialty crop rather than promote or benefit a program or single organization; and
12. Costs associated with the use of trade shows, meeting rooms, display, demonstrations, exhibits, and the rental of space are allowable only if they solely promote the specialty crop. Cost sharing to promote both specialty crops and non-specialty crops is not allowable for these types of expenses.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be received by TDA before close of business (5:00 PM CT) on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.

Projected Timeline of Events:
-Application Availability: January 2018
-Application Deadline: February 21, 2018
-Preliminary Selection: April 2018
-Selected Projects submitted to USDA: May 2018
-Award Announcements: October 2018
-Start Date of Project: December 1, 2018
-End Date of Project: September 30, 2020

Eligible and Ineligible Specialty Crops:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

Sean Hilbe, Specialty Crop Grant Coordinator
(512) 463-6616

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Texas

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