NASHVILLE — The Tenn. Dept. of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

“Tennessee’s diverse landscape is home to a wide variety of farms, and many of those grow the specialty crops supported through the SCBGP,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “We’re proud to administer this program and support research, education, marketing, and innovative projects that will have long-term impact on Tennessee’s specialty crop sector.”

The state Dept. of Agriculture administers the grants, which are authorized through the USDA. SCBGP funds are granted to enhance production and competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, honey, floriculture, and other nursery crops.

Universities, institutions, cooperatives, producers, and industry or community-based organizations may submit a proposal for funding. The program aims to support projects that directly affect multiple Tennessee producers and have a positive, long-lasting impact on Tennessee agriculture.

Previous grant funding assisted Agricenter International to conduct research on developing sustainable practices for growing hops in Tennessee. The non-profit research hub planted three acres of hops in 2019, and they are evaluating how different varieties perform in the local climate.

Eligible individuals and organizations must submit proposals using the 2020 project template. The project template, performance measures, and information required to apply are available online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/business-development/scbg.html.

Proposals are due by March 16 and should be submitted by email to tn.scbg@tn.gov.

First-time recipients have a funding limit of $25,000. Early submission is encouraged.

For more information about the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, email tn.scbg@tn.gov.