DEM announces $375,000 in grants for local farms and food organizations
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has announced a competitive 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.
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 increased consumption and innovation, increase efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems, support environmental concerns and conservation, and the 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 require a cost sharing or matching requirement. During the FY 2020 and 2021 cycles, the average amount of funding per award totaled to $32,437 and $36,772 respectively. All products are subject to availability of funding. Grant funding can’t be expended before September 30, or after September 29, 2025. DEM reserves the right to offer an award amount less than the amount requested.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the purpose of the SCBGP is to enhance competitiveness of local specialty crops and increasing consumption with consumer awareness of produce grown in Rhode Island through various methods. DEM has made two tracks for the 2022 SCBGP. Track 1 is for larger SCBG projects with no cap on funding. Track 2 is a mini-grant program funding proposals from $2,500-$10,000 with a focus on COVID-19 relief, food and produce safety, and digital media. Extra funding has been made available to support farms with the impact of COVID-19.