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PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Environmental Management announced that $150,000 in farm-viability grant funds will be available to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Rhode Island. The funds are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program.
According to a news release, specialty crops are defined by the federally supported program as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts and nursery crops, including floriculture and turf-grass production. DEM said grant awards will range from $10,000 to $50,000 with no direct match required. Funding will be provided in two stages, with 50 percent of the monies given upfront and the remainder provided at the satisfactory completion of the project. The grants may be used for projects of up to two years.
Funds may be used for research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health, product development, education, “buy local” initiatives and for programs that provide for increased consumption and innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation and development of cooperatives.
Any Rhode Island agricultural or educational association or organization, individual farmer or resident is eligible to apply. •