Specialty Crop Block Grant

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which partners with state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in areas such as marketing, promotion, education, research, trade and nutrition.

Colorado specialty crops range from perennial favorites like potatoes and onions to exciting innovators such as chiles and hops. To help develop and promote the state’s specialty crops, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) seeks proposals annually for the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture and sod.

CDA anticipates that approximately $550,000 will be available for the 2016 grant program, with approved projects starting early in 2017. Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Proposals submitted by individual producers must demonstrate that the potential impact of the project will accrue to a broader group of similar producers, region or industry segment.

NEW FOR 2016

Each project submitted must include at least one of the eight outcomes listed in the Fiscal Year 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Performance Evaluation, and at least one of the indicators listed underneath the selected outcome(s).

  • If there are multiple sub-indicators under the selected indicator, select at least one.
  • If the indicator(s) below the selected outcome(s) are not relevant to a project, a project specific indicator(s) may be developed which will be subject to approval by AMS.
  • The progress of each indicator must be reported in the Annual Performance Report and the result in the Final Performance Report.
  • AMS will aggregate the data collected to assess the overall impact of the program and report to OMB and Congress on these national outcome measures.
  • AMS will review the quality of the information we receive in subsequent performance reports and modify the outcomes and indictors as needed over time to lead to better results in showing the impact of the SCBGP.


Specialty crops are defined as

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • tree nuts,
  • dried fruits, and
  • nursery crops (including floriculture and sod).

Crops excluded from the program as defined by USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service include: cotton, cottonseed, feed crops (such as barley, corn, hay, oats, sorghum grain, and millet), flaxseed, food grains (such as quinoa, rice, rye, and wheat), livestock and dairy products (including eggs), marine aquaculture, oil crops (such as peanut, soybean, sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, canola, and mustard seed), peanuts, range grasses, sugar beets, sugarcane, and tobacco. 

To be eligible for a grant, the project must solely enhance the competitiveness of Colorado grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets. See the SCBGP-FB website for a list of eligible specialty crops and ineligible commodities.

2016 SCBGP Application Process

Applications will be accepted until close of business (5:00 p.m. MT) on April 15, 2016. All proposals must be emailed to Glenda.Mostek@state.co.us

Projects must solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, including but not limited to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

• Enhancing food safety;

• Assisting all entities in the specialty crop 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;

• Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;

• Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;

• Pest and disease control; and development of organic and sustainable production practices;

• Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;

• Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;

• Developing local and regional food systems; and

• Improving food access in underserved communities.


To be eligible for consideration, completed proposals must be received electronically by CDA not later than the close of business (5:00 pm) on April 15, 2016.  


Producer groups, organizations, and associations, as well as state and/or local organizations, academia and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. Although proposals submitted by individual producers are allowed, grant funds will not be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. Applications for grant funds should describe how the project potentially impacts and produces measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual. 

Funds may not be utilized for paying down current debt, general administrative expenses, or for indirect institutional overhead costs.

Similarly, funds may not be utilized for purchasing equipment and construction/building costs. Please see allowable/unallowable costs.

A matching contribution of cash and/or in-kind resources equal to at least 25 percent of the total project budget is required.


Fund Allocation & Timeline

Application Process

Grantee Provisions



2016 Application

2016 Performance Measures

2016 Program Guidelines

2016 Allowable and Unallowable Costs

2016 USDA Request for Applications

Sample Applications (2015)

Additional Resources

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (Administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service to individual state departments of agriculture.)

2012 Colorado Specialty Crop Block Grant Final Report

2013 Colorado Specialty Crop Block Grant Final Report

Specialty Crop Final Performance Reports

Colorado Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Brochure


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Page updated 2/16/16