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USDA/AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)

Grants to Georgia Nonprofits, Agencies, and
IHEs to Enhance Markets for Specialty Crops

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

03/30/18 Noon


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Grants starting at $20,000 to Georgia nonprofit organizations, government agencies, IHEs, and agricultural organizations to enhance the market competitiveness of specialty crops produced within the state. Concept proposals are due February 21. Projects may involve education, research, or marketing. All projects must benefit the specialty crop industry.

Specialty crops are defined as: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, nursery and greenhouse crops, including floriculture.

Funding Priorities/Focus Areas:

The following have been identified as funding priorities for the 2018 SCBGP for Georgia:
-Increasing consumption of specialty crops in Georgia’s schools by expanding child knowledge of and improving access to the nutritional benefits of specialty crops;
-Enhancing specialty crop food safety, particularly in regard to helping farmers/growers/producers prepare for and comply with the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA);
-Assisting all entities in the specialty crop production/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;
-Research projects, including those which focus on helping specialty crop growers reduce the financial costs and/or environmental impact of their operations, including improved pest and disease management techniques, efficient water management, integrated pest management, and/or sustainable production;
-Developing and researching new and improved specialty crop varieties that are better adapted to Georgia’s soils and climate and/or result in longer shelf-life;
-Increasing sales and marketability and driving demand for commercially grown specialty crops.
Note that the public is welcome to suggest additional funding priorities to be considered by GDA for future SCBGP solicitations.
Additionally, partnerships are strongly encouraged for this grant and proposals/applications that show input/buy-in from all interested parties in Georgia will score higher than ones that don’t.

Note that no indirect/administrative/F&A costs can be charged for this grant. This is because USDA caps it at 8% for SCBG and GDA retains that entire amount to administer the program for the state.

Allowable Costs:

All costs must be associated with project activities that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Failure to mention a particular item of cost in these sections is not intended to imply that it is unallowable. See 2 CFR Part 225 for further guidance on cost principles.

-Advertising and Public Relations. Advertising and public relations costs that solely enhance the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops.

-Advisory Councils. Costs incurred by advisory councils or committees

-Capital Expenditures for Special Purpose Equipment. With prior approval from AMS, costs associated with capital expenditures for special purpose equipment with a unit cost of $5000 or more. ‘‘Special purpose equipment’’ means equipment which is used only for research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities. Examples of special purpose equipment include microscopes, x-ray machines, surgical instruments, and spectrometers.

-Compensation for Personnel Services. Compensation for personnel services during the period of performance under the Federal award, including salaries, wages, and fringe benefits to the extent that they are reasonable for the services rendered and they are supported with adequate documentation in accordance with 2 CFR 225 App. B ¶8h.

-Communication Costs. Costs incurred for telephone services, local and long distance telephone calls, telegrams, postage, messenger, electronic or computer transmittal services and the like.

-Conferences. Costs of conferences as defined in 2 CFR 200.432. Allowable conference costs paid by the non-Federal applicant or subapplicant as a sponsor or host of the conference may include rental of facilities, speakers’ fees, costs of meals (see Meals for restrictions), and refreshments, local transportation, and other items incidental to such conferences with the exception of entertainment costs that are unallowable. If registration fees are collected, the applicant or subapplicant must report fees as program income (See Program Income). The SCBGP encourages the use of technologies such as webinars, teleconferencing, or videoconferencing as an alternative to renting a building or a room.

-Contractual/Consultant Costs (Professional Services). Contractual/consultant costs are the expenses associated with purchasing goods and/or procuring services performed by an individual or organization other than the applicant in the form of a procurement relationship. Allowable for contractor/consultant employee rates that do not exceed the salary of a GS-15 step 10 Federal employee in your area. This does not include fringe benefits, travel, indirect costs, or other expenses. Please note that any statutory limitations on indirect costs also apply to contractors and consultants.

-Health and Nutrition Messaging Allowable when health and nutrition information complies with regulations and policies of the: Federal Trade Commission. Nutrition and health claims must be truthful, not misleading or deceptive, and include adequate disclaimers if appropriate. Health and nutrition information should align with the most up-to-date Dietary Guidelines.

-Information Technology Systems website development, mobile apps, etc.

-Materials and Supplies. Costs incurred for materials, supplies, and fabricated parts necessary to carry out a Federal award. Purchased materials and supplies shall be charged at their actual prices, net of applicable credits. Withdrawals from general stores or stockrooms should be charged at their actual net cost under any recognized method of pricing inventory withdrawals, consistently applied. Incoming transportation charges are a proper part of materials and supplies costs. Only materials and supplies actually used for the performance of a Federal award may be charged as direct costs. Where federally-donated or furnished materials are used in performing the Federal award, such materials will be used without charge.

-Meetings and Conferences. Costs of meetings and conferences with the primary purpose of dissemination of technical information. This includes costs of meals, transportation, rental of facilities, speakers’ fees, and other items incidental to such meetings or conferences with the exception of entertainment costs as described under unallowable costs.

-Participant Support Costs items as stipends or subsistence allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with approved conferences, training projects, and focus groups.

-Professional service costs. Costs of professional and consultant services rendered by persons who are members of a particular profession or possess a special skill, and who are not officers or employees of the governmental unit when reasonable in relation to the services rendered and when not contingent upon recovery of the costs from the Federal Government.

-Proposal costs. Costs of preparing proposals for potential Federal awards. Proposal costs should be treated as indirect costs and should be allocated to all activities of the governmental unit utilizing the cost allocation plan and indirect cost rate proposal.

-Publication and Printing Costs. Publication costs include the costs of printing (including the processes of composition, plate-making, press work, binding, and the end products produced by such processes), distribution, promotion, mailing, and general handling. Publication costs also include page charges in professional publications. If these costs are not identifiable with a particular cost objective, they should be allocated as indirect costs to all benefiting activities of the governmental unit. Page charges for professional journal publications are allowable as a necessary part of research costs where: (1) The research papers report work supported by the Federal Government; and (2) The charges are levied impartially on all research papers published by the journal, whether or not by federally-sponsored authors.

-Reconversion. Costs incurred in the restoration or rehabilitation of the governmental unit’s facilities to approximately the same condition existing immediately prior to commencement of Federal awards, less costs related to normal wear and tear.

-Rental Costs of Buildings and Equipment. To the extent that the rates are reasonable in light of such factors as: rental costs of comparable property, if any; market conditions in the area; alternatives available; and the type, life expectancy, condition, and value of the property leased. Rental arrangements should be reviewed periodically to determine if circumstances have changed and other options are available.

-Salaries and Wages. Part of employee compensation for personnel services in proportion to the amount of time or effort an employee devotes to the grant-supported project or program during the period of performance under the Federal award, including salaries, wages, and fringe benefits. Such costs must be incurred under formally established policies of the organization, be consistently applied, be reasonable for the services rendered, and be supported with adequate documentation. Salary and wage amounts charged to grant-supported projects or programs for personal services must be based on an adequate payroll distribution system that documents such distribution in accordance with generally accepted practices of like organizations. Standards for payroll distribution systems are contained in the applicable cost principles (other than those for for-profit organizations). Unallowable for salaries, wages and fringe benefits for project staff that devote time and effort to non-specialty crop specific venues, tradeshows, events, meetings, programs, conventions, symposia, seminars, etc. where costs cannot be specifically identified and easily and accurately traced to activities that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Example: Salaries and wages for a farmers’ market manager to manage and advertise a farmers market that includes non-specialty crop items is unallowable, while salaries and wages for personnel to conduct a cooking demonstration on how to prepare fruits and vegetables is allowable.

-Selling and Marketing Costs. If the primary purpose is to promote the sale of an eligible specialty crop by either stimulating interest in a particular specialty crop or disseminating technical information or messages for the purpose of increasing market share for the specialty crops.

-Supplies and Materials. Costs incurred for materials, supplies, and fabricated parts necessary to carry out a Federal award. Purchased materials and supplies must be charged at their actual prices, net of applicable credits. Withdrawals from general stores or stockrooms should be charged at their actual net cost under any recognized method of pricing inventory withdrawals, consistently applied. Incoming transportation charges are a proper part of materials and supplies costs. Only materials and supplies actually used for the performance of a Federal award may be charged as direct costs. A computing device is a supply if the acquisition cost is less than the lesser of the capitalization level established by the applicant or sub-applicant for financial statement purposes or $5,000, regardless of the length of its useful life. In the specific case of computing devices, charging as direct cost is allowable for devices that are essential and allocable, but not solely dedicated, to the performance of a Federal award. Where federally-donated or furnished materials are used in performing the Federal award, such materials will be used without charge.

-Training Costs. The cost of training provided for employee development when the training is required to meet the objectives of the project.

-Travel Costs. Travel costs are the expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items incurred by employees who are in travel status on official business of the governmental unit. Such costs may be charged on an actual cost basis, on a per diem or mileage basis in lieu of actual costs incurred, or on a combination of the two, provided the method used is applied to an entire trip and not to selected days of the trip, and results in charges consistent with those normally allowed in like circumstances in the governmental unit’s non-federally-sponsored activities. When travel costs are limited to those allowed by formal organizational policy; in the case of air travel, the lowest reasonable commercial airfares must be used. Subapplicants that do not have formal travel policies travel costs may not exceed those established by the Federal Travel Regulation, issued by GSA, including the maximum per diem and subsistence rates prescribed in those regulations. If subapplicant organization has no formal travel policy, those regulations will be used to determine the amount that may be charged for travel costs. Subapplicants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of discount fares for airline travel through advance purchase of tickets if travel schedules can be planned in advance. Consideration should be given to the use of alternative technologies such as teleconferencing or videoconferencing if they are available, appropriate for the project, and less costly.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 153415

Estimated Size of Grant:

Individual project award funding requests require a minimum request of $20,000 up to a maximum of $175,000.

Term of Contract:

Awarded projects will have up to three years to complete the requirements of the grant.

The three-year grant period will begin October 1, 2018.

Grantees must have requested a reimbursement for at least 50% of their grant funds by March 31, 2020.

The three-year grant period ends September 29, 2021.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals will be accepted only from: IRS-designated 501(c)(3) current nonprofit organizations, commodity commissions, grower associations, state and local government entities, and colleges and universities. Applicants must reside in or their business or educational affiliation must be in Georgia. Individuals and for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.

NEW since 2017: Nonprofit organizations are strongly encouraged to partner with a Principal Investigator (PI) from a Georgia college or university, preferably from either of Georgia’s Land Grant institutions (UGA or FVSU). Those who do not may receive lower scores on their Concept Proposals, especially if they have never received a SCBGP grant.

If you have submitted the same project to GDA twice in the past and it has not been funded, it cannot be submitted again. You are welcome to submit a new project.

Unallowable Costs:

All costs must be associated with project activities that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Failure to mention a particular item of cost in this section is not intended to imply that it is allowable. Please see 2 CFR Part 225 for further guidance on cost principles.

-Advertising and Public Relations. Costs of advertising and public relations designed solely to promote the governmental unit. No billboard advertisements may be paid for with grant funds.

-Alcoholic beverages except when the costs are associated with enhancing the competitiveness of wine grapes and prior approval is given from the awarding agency.

-Bad debts. Including losses (whether actual or estimated) arising from uncollectable accounts and other claims, related collection costs, and related legal costs.

-Capital Expenditures for General Purpose Equipment. Capital expenditures for general purpose equipment, buildings, and land. ‘‘General purpose equipment’’ means equipment, which is not limited to research, medical, scientific or other technical activities. Examples include office equipment and furnishings, modular offices, telephone networks, information technology equipment and systems, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, and motor vehicles.

-Construction and Renovation and Land or Building Acquisition The acquisition of buildings, facilities, or land or to make additions, improvements, modifications, replacements, rearrangements, reinstallations, renovations or alterations of an existing building or facility (including site grading and improvement, and architecture fees).
Building means any permanent structure that is designed or intended for support, enclosure, shelter or protection of person, animals or property having a permanent roof that is supported by columns or walls.

-Contingency Provisions. Contributions to a contingency reserve or any similar provision made for events the occurrence of which cannot be foretold with certainty as to time, intensity, or with an assurance of their happening.

-Donated Services. Donated or volunteer services may be furnished to a governmental unit by professional and technical personnel, consultants, and other skilled and unskilled labor. The value of these services is not reimbursable either as a direct or indirect cost.

-Donations and Contributions. Contributions or donations, including cash, property, and services, made by the governmental unit, regardless of the recipient.

-Entertainment. Amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities).

-Excessive Airfare Costs. Airfare costs in excess of the customary standard commercial airfare (coach or equivalent), Federal Government contract airfare, or the lowest commercial discount airfare.

-Fines and Penalties. Fines, penalties, damages, and other settlements resulting from violations (or alleged violations) of, or failure of the governmental unit to comply with, Federal, State, local, or Indian tribal laws and regulations.

-Food/Meals. Food and/or beverages may not be paid for using grant funds unless part of an individual’s travel expenses and then only at the state’s per diem rate.

-Foreign travel. Trips outside the contiguous 48 states are not permitted using grant funds. However, trips to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and/or Alaska may be approved on a case-by-case basis.

-Fundraising. Organized fund raising, including financial campaigns, solicitation of gifts and bequests, and similar expenses incurred to raise capital or obtain contributions regardless of the purpose for which the funds will be used.

-General Costs of Government. These include: (1) Salaries and expenses of the Office of the Governor of a State or the chief executive of a political subdivision or the chief executive of federally-recognized Indian tribal government; (2) Salaries and other expenses of a State legislature, tribal council, or similar local governmental body, such as a county supervisor, city council, school board, etc., whether incurred for purposes of legislation or executive direction; (3) Costs of the judiciary branch of a government; (4) Costs of prosecutorial activities; and (5) Costs of other general types of government services normally provided to the general public, such as fire and police.

-Goods or Services for Personal Use. Costs of goods or services for personal use of the governmental unit’s employees regardless of whether the cost is reported as taxable income to the employees.

-Information Technology Systems information technology systems having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established in accordance by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) by sub-applicant for financial statement purposes or $5,000. Acquisition cost means the cost of the asset including the cost to ready the asset for its intended use. Acquisition costs for software includes those development costs capitalized in accordance with GAAP. Information technology systems include computing devices, ancillary equipment, software, firmware, and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources. Computing devices means machines used to acquire, store, analyze, process, and publish data and other information electronically, including accessories (or “peripherals”) for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information. Examples of unallowable information technology systems include service contracts, operating systems, printers, and computers that have an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more.

-Investment Management Cost. Costs of investment counsel and staff and similar expenses incurred to enhance income from investments.

-Lobbying. Development or participation in lobbying activities including costs of membership in organizations substantially engaged in lobbying.

-Memberships for sub-recipients cannot be paid for with grant funds.

-Political Activities. Development or participation in political activities in accordance with provisions of the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. 1501-1508 and 7324-7326).

-Replacement of State funds. Grant funds shall supplement the expenditure of State funds in support of specialty crops grown in that State, rather than replace State funds. AKA “Supplanting.”

-Selling and Marketing Costs. Costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, general logo, or general brand rather than eligible specialty crops.

Costs for promotion at non-specialty crop specific venues, tradeshows, events, meetings, programs, conventions, symposia, seminars, etc. or promotional items, swag, gifts, prizes, memorabilia, and souvenirs.

Costs associated with sponsorships: A sponsorship is a form of advertising in which an organization uses grant funds to have its name and/or logo associated with certain events and where the organization does not necessarily know how the funds associated with sponsorship costs will be used. These costs are considered a contribution or donation and only benefit the organization offering funding. This limits the beneficiaries to the sponsor organization, which conflicts with the restriction that projects affect and produce measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual.

Costs associated with fees for individuals or companies to have their specialty crop products placed at retail markets (i.e., slotting fees or allowances).

Costs of 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.

Costs associated with the use of trade shows, meeting rooms, displays, demonstrations, exhibits, and the rental of space for activities that do not solely promote specialty crops.

Costs of separate complementary non-specialty crop products. A separate complementary non-specialty crop product means a product closely associated with a specialty crop product, the purchase of one encouraging consumers to buy the other (i.e., cheese and wine).

Pre-Application Information:

Concept Proposals are due by February 21, 2018 at noon.

Concept Proposals will be scored against all other concept proposals submitted and only the top twenty highest scoring projects will go on to submit a full proposal. Invitations for full proposals will be issued on February 28, 2018.

Projected Timeline (subject to change):

-February 1, 2018 – Thursday: Announcement of 2018 SCBGP grant opportunity; Request for Concept Proposals (pre-screening)

-February 21, 2018 - Wednesday: Deadline for submission of Concept Proposals; must be received by noon (no exceptions)

-February 28, 2018 – Wednesday: GDA will send out Requests for Full Applications to organizations for the 20 applications with approved Concept Proposals. Those not invited to apply will receive notice by email by March 2, 2018.

-March 30, 2018 - Friday: Project Proposal/Application submission deadline to GDA by noon (no exceptions) in Word format only

-Early-Mid April 2018: GDA staff review of full applications: revisions and clarifications requested from applicants.

-Late April to Early May 2018: GDA/Specialty Crop Review Committee evaluation of applications.

-Mid-Late May 2018: Notice to applicants of acceptance/denial of their project proposals by Review Committee. Revisions made to projects before submission to USDA/AMS-SCBGP; Most applications will require scope/budget revisions to projects based on Review Committee recommendations.

-June 2018: Georgia’s full State Grant Application Request will be sent to USDA/AMS-SCBG.

-Mid-Late September 2018: Award letters and contract agreements will go out to awardees/sub-grantees. Announcement of grant awards through press release/GDA website.

-October 1, 2018: 3-year grant period will begin.

-March 31, 2020: Grantees should have requested reimbursement for at least 50% of their grant funds by this date. Unspent funds are subject to recapture and reallocation.

-September 29, 2021: 3-year Grant period ends. No extensions. Projects must be completed by this date and absolutely no 2018 grant funds can be spent after this date.

List of Eligible Specialty Crops:

USDA/AMS-SCBG Website (All applicants should review this info from USDA)

Contact Information:

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

Jeanne Maxwell, Esq., Director of Grants Development & Compliance

Jen Erdmann, Grants Specialist/SCBGP Coordinator

Georgia Department of Agriculture
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Georgia