Grant program announced for specialty crops

NASHVILLE– The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). 

“The SCBGP supports specialty crop producers through funding for research, education, marketing, and innovative projects,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Tennessee is an agriculturally-diverse state producing a wide range of specialty crops that can benefit from participating in this program.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture administers the grants, which are authorized through the USDA. SCBGP funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, floriculture, and other nursery crops.

Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, and industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for funding. The program aims to support projects that directly affect multiple Tennessee producers and have a positive, long-lasting impact on Tennessee agriculture.

Previous grant funding assisted the Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association’s efforts to designate two American Viticultural Areas in Tennessee, emphasizing the distinction of grapes grown there. The University of Tennessee used grant funds to compare lettuce yield and quality using drip and overhead irrigation on biodegradable mulches.

“The SCBGP has allowed us to address real issues for Tennessee producers,” Dr. Annette Wszelaki, Plant Sciences Professor at the University of Tennessee, said. “From production practices to food safety, the SCBGP has given us the opportunity to provide demonstrations, solutions, and education to our specialty crop growers statewide.”

Eligible individuals and organizations must submit proposals using the 2019 project template. The project template, performance measures, and information required to apply are available online at

Proposals are due by April 4 and should be submitted by email to First-time recipients have a funding limit of $25,000. Early submission is encouraged.

For more information about the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, email

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