Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding invites proposals for $460,000 in Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grants, created under the PA Farm Bill in 2019 and funded a fourth time in 2022-23. Eligible projects stimulate market growth and advance the competitive position of crops designated as high priority for their potential to feed Pennsylvania’s economy and boost environmental sustainability. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The purpose of the Commonwealth Specialty Crop program is to enhance, but not replace, the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program by establishing a grant program for specialty crops that are not currently eligible for grant payments under the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, or that are otherwise designated high-priority specialty crops by the Secretary. Crops identified as high priority crops are hemp, honey, hardwood, and hops. Funding for the Program will assist the growth, certification of seed, and marketing of these eligible specialty crops.
In a press release, Secretary Redding stated,
"These PA Farm Bill grants are strategic investments in Pennsylvania’s future...Pennsylvania hardwoods supply the world with sustainable, quality building materials. Fiber hemp restores soil and sources sustainable materials from plastics and clothing to construction materials and auto parts. Hops and brewing grains are critical to our top-ranking craft brewing industry. These products are feeding our progress.”
Previously funded projects include assessing disease impacts on hemp, protecting hardwoods from spotted lanternflies, teaching brewing crop techniques, teaching grading and selection of hardwood lumber, assessing the environmental impacts of hemp, and promoting green jobs in the forest products industry.
A summary of eligibility and potential uses of funding can be found at agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill. Full grant guidelines can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin Saturday, October 29 edition. Project proposals must be received by 5:00 PM on December 2, 2022.
Proposals must be submitted through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application. Applicants with questions about eligible projects or procedures should contact Lauren Stackhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717.614.5730.