Gov. McKee, DEM Announce Availability of $270,000 in Grants for Local Farms and Food Organizations Published on Thursday, January 25, 2024 PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today are announcing a competitive solicitation process to award Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. DEM anticipates that approximately $270,000 will be awarded to projects enhancing the competitiveness of Rhode Island specialty crops that are vital to Rhode Islanders’ health and well-being. There is no maximum grant award and a cost sharing or matching requirement is not required. The average amount of funding, per award, is between $35,000 and $50,000. All projects are subject to the availability of funds. Grant funds cannot be expended before Sept. 30, 2024, or after Sept. 29, 2027. DEM reserves the right to offer an award amount less than the amount requested. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2024. To apply, please click here. “This grant program does two very important things at once: it supports small businesses, which are the glue of our communities, and helps expand our food system to become more resilient, secure, and sustainable,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Along with many other initiatives run by DEM including the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act program, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program offers tangible benefits to both the grantees and all Rhode Islanders.” “When I go to the grocery store or visit my local farmers’ market, I’m always looking for foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts. These are key components of maintaining a healthy diet and I know that most Rhode Islanders are looking for the same things,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “DEM is always working to get more RI Grown food on the table and support local farmers and food businesses in becoming more competitive.” Rhode Island’s SCBGP is funded under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance the competitiveness of local specialty crops through increasing consumption through consumer awareness of RI Grown produce and plants through buy local promotions; creating new marketing opportunities for suppliers of RI produce and specialty crop plants through nontraditional markets; research and development to introduce new crops to RI producers to incorporate; and increasing on-farm food safety practices and plants already grown and offered in RI. Since 2016, DEM has awarded more than $1,000,000 in grants through the SCBGP. For more information about the SCBGP, please visit here. Questions regarding this grant opportunity and the competitive solicitation process should be directed by email to DEM.SpecialtyCrop@dem.ri.gov or by telephone at (401) 222-2781. Since 2006, USDA has invested over $1 billion through the SCBGP to fund nearly 12,000 projects that have increased the long-term successes of producers and enhanced marketing opportunities for U.S. specialty crops products. The SCBGP funding supports farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. USDA’s support helps strengthen specialty crop production and markets, ensuring an abundant, affordable supply of highly nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops, which are vital to the health and well-being of all Americans. SCBGP assists state departments of agriculture in 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia. For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.