Grants to Maryland government agencies, nonprofit organizations, IHEs, businesses, and producer organizations for projects to improve the local food industry. Funding is intended for projects within the focus areas of research, market enhancement, and food safety. Eligible projects enhance the competitiveness of Maryland grown specialty crops, with priority given to projects that have the potential to provide solutions that lead to measurable benefits to the specialty crop industry in the state.
The purpose of the Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of Maryland specialty crops including fruits and vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, honey, hops, grapes, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and nursery crops.
Grant applications that focus on one of the areas below will be given priority based on the 2020 Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant survey.
- Food Safety Compliance: Proposed projects should meet specialty crop buyer requirements for mitigating food safety risks.
- Market Enhancement: Proposed projects should increase sales product and market share of Maryland specialty crops by leveraging the Maryland's Best brand through cooperative promotion and partnerships for restaurants, grocery stores, institutions, and other businesses.
- Research: Proposed projects should improve the competitiveness of Maryland specialty crops through research projects such as pest control and disease, soil quality, water efficiency, cleaning\sanitation, water quality for crops or pre\post-harvest handling, manure or composting as it relates to Food Safety Modernization Act. Research applicants are encouraged to seek at least 5% of the total budget from Maryland specialty crop producers or industry. Research applicants must demonstrate an outreach component to the specified industry impacted by the project.
Eligible applicants may wish to consider submitting grants as it relates to the funding priorities that increase the competitiveness of specialty crop producers which may include beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, or veteran farmers.
Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.” The USDA maintains a more comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops on its website at https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/specialty-crop.
For information about eligible expenses, see: https://mda.maryland.gov/maryland_products/Documents/2023%20Maryland%20Specialty%20Crop%20Block%20Grant%20Manual%20.pdf#page=5