Illinois to receive specialty crop grant funding

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is now accepting proposals for federal specialty crop grants.

Illinois will receive more than $600,000 and the agency has been instructed to begin the proposal selection process. The funds will come from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in the Farm Bill. The grants are only available for projects that enhance the competitiveness of Illinois-grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets. Projects that benefit a specific commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, individual or institution are not eligible.

"For many Illinoisans, specialty crops not only provide vital nutrition, but also are a primary source of income," Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson said. "The fruits, vegetables and nuts grown on our state's farmland will provide Illinois families with access to fresh, healthy food. In addition to the availability of Illinois-grown produce, these grants can help enhance a grower's profitability and sustainability."

More than 106,000 acres of Illinois farmland are used to grow specialty crops on more than 3,200 farms, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Specialty crops are legally defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops.

The IDOA is accepting grant proposals until May 1 at 4 p.m. Additional information and requests for proposal packets are available on the department’s website at

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Illinois Department of Agriculture

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