Despite the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is now accepting applications for the 2020 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., announced today.
“We are all adjusting to this new normal of social distancing due to the worldwide pandemic caused by the Coronavirus,” Strain said. “Although all LDAF buildings are closed to the public at this time, the LDAF continues to provide services through telecommuting wherever possible,” Strain said.
Applications must be received no later than the close of business (4:30 p.m.) April 23, 2020.
The LDAF will administer the grant program funded through the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS). The LDAF anticipates at least $413,000.00 to be allocated to fund Louisiana projects.
The grants are to be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of Louisiana-grown specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops including floriculture and horticulture in either domestic or foreign markets.
Applicants must reside in or their organization or educational affiliation must be in Louisiana. All applicants are required to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and include that number on their application.
Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Projects should focus on issues to help improve specialty crop industries as a whole such as: distribution, production, research, market development, food safety, promotion and education. Individual farms are not eligible to apply; however, producer associations, state and/or local organization, state or local governments, qualified educational institutions, non-profits and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible recipients.
Once the deadline has passed, all applications submitted to the LDAF will be carefully evaluated to determine if the projects are qualified based on the criteria listed in the guidelines. All submitted project applications deemed qualified will be reviewed and scored by a panel consisting of industry stakeholders, and the panel will make funding recommendations to LDAF. All LDAF approved projects will be incorporated into one state grant request, which will be submitted to the USDA.
LDAF has prepared a Request for Applications (RFA) document detailing application instructions, scoring criteria, federal forms, project format examples and other helpful information from the USDA. The document may be found at www.LDAF.la.gov [ldaf.la.gov]. Click on the 2020 Specialty Crop [ldaf.state.la.us]alert.
A complete list of eligible specialty crops may be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgpdefinitions [ams.usda.gov].