Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)- Farm Bill, 2017

The Hawaii State Department of Agriculture (HDOA) will administer a competitive request for proposal process to award approximately $330,000 in federal funds for proposals that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Hawaii. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Act), was signed on February 7, 2014, and will remain in force through 2018. The 2014 Farm Act reauthorized specialty crop block grants with increased funding, with the amount of the grant to the states based on the value and acreage of specialty crop production in the state. The grants were authorized as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture. These grants are to be utilized by state departments of agriculture solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

The SCBGP is administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which is required to report on the outcomes of the SCBGP at a national scale to demonstrate the performance of the program. To meet this requirement, the AMS has published new performance measures that are included in these guidelines and must be submitted within the SCBGP Project Template in response to this Request for Proposal (RFP-17-03-ADD) solicitation.

Awards in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 per project will be considered with higher amounts considered for projects with extraordinary statewide benefit or exceptional merit and benefit to the specialty crop industry. Projects shall be completed within 24 months. Matching funds, either in-kind or cash, are not required, however, applicants are encouraged to provide evidence of matching funds, either in-kind or cash, which will be calculated into the scoring criteria. Letters of support from project partners and supporters describing their commitment as a partner or their level of support are encouraged.

Funds will likely be available in January 2018. Due to the limited funds, funding to an eligible organization is likely limited to one project in this funding cycle.

The application deadline is 12:00 Noon Hawaii Standard Time on Friday, April 21, 2017.

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Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
2017-2018 Grants

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Value-Added Producer Grants Available for Ag Producers

HILO, Hawaii, April 28, 2016 —

Up to $44 million is available to farmers, ranchers and businesses looking to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“The uniqueness of island life requires items not produced locally to be shipped to the region.  The Value-Added Producer Grant program is a great resource for our local agricultural producers looking to generate new products, increase product values and grow markets and customer bases,” said Chris Kanazawa, USDA Rural Development State Director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific.  “In addition to diversifying locally produced and grown products, economic opportunities for producers, their families and local communities increase.”

Value-Added Producer Grants may be used to develop new products and create additional uses for existing ones. Priority for these grants is given to veterans, members of socially disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, and operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches. Additional priority is given to applicants who seek funding for projects that will create or increase marketing opportunities for these types of operators.

More information on how to apply is on page 20607 of the April 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications submitted through are due June 24, 2016. Additional information and assistance is available through local offices.

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 1,126 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $144.7 million. USDA awarded 205 grants to beginning farmers and ranchers.

Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates the Department’s work to develop local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack describes the cultivation of local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development that impacts farm family income and strengthens local economies. Under Secretary Vilsack, USDA has supported providing consumers a stronger connection to their food with more than $1 billion in investments to over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since between 2009. Industry data estimates that U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.

Two examples of Value-Added Producer Grant awards include:

  • Punachicks Farm in Keaau, Hawaii, received a $20,000 working capital grant used to pay labor and service costs for packaging, delivery, and direct sales of locally-grown, all-natural, pasture-raised poultry.  Monthly sales were projected to double.  Current production exceeded expectations with farm operation future plans to move from leased land to purchased property.
  • Mauna Kea Tea in Honokaa, Hawaii, received a $27,750 working capital grant to expand marketing, create a brand identity and produce a new tea-in-bag product.  As a result, the wholesale customer base increased 50 percent with retail customers continuing to grow.