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Ag Secretary Invites Proposals for $460,000 in Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grants — Strategic Investment to Seed Growth in PA Economy

08/09/2021

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Agriculture Russell Redding invited proposals for $460,000 in Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grants, created under the PA Farm Bill in 2019 and renewed a third time for the 2021-22 state budget. Eligible projects will stimulate market growth and enhance the competitive position of crops designated as high priority for their potential to feed Pennsylvania's economy and boost environmental sustainability.

"These grants fund projects that seed our future growth," Secretary Redding said. "Hemp — particularly fiber varieties — holds tremendous promise for solving some of our toughest challenges tackling climate change and conserving and renewing our soil and water. Hardwoods are another key crop for storing carbon and supplying sustainable building materials. Hops and other brewing grains are crucial ingredients in Pennsylvania's craft brewing industry which leads the nation in sales. These PA Farm Bill grants are strategic investments in Pennsylvania's future."

State Specialty Crop Block Grants enhance, rather than replace federal block grants, and are available to fund specialty crops designated as high priority crops in the state: hemp, hops, hardwoods, honey; barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting. Eligible projects boost the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crops, for example, through research to increase conservation and environmental outcomes, enhance food safety, develop new and improved certified seed varieties, or improve pest and disease control.

A percentage of funds will be designated to projects in rural communities with at least 20 percent of the population below the federal poverty line.

In June, the department announced the second $460,000 in grants, funding projects to assess disease impacts on hemp, protect hardwoods from spotted lanternflies, teach farmers to grow crops to supply the growing brewing industry, teach grading and selection of hardwood lumber, assess the environmental impacts of hemp, and promote green jobs in the forest products industry among students.

Recipients of 2019-20 Grant Awards and a summary of eligibility and potential uses of funding can be found at agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill. Full grant guidelines were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, August 7. Project proposals will be accepted August 9 through 4:59 PM on September 17, 2021.

Proposals must be submitted through the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application. Applicants with questions about eligible projects or procedures should email Morgan Sheffield, the department's grants manager at msheffield@pa.gov.

State Specialty Crop Block Grants were created under the historic Pennsylvania Farm Bill, Governor Wolf's bold, aggressive, and necessary investments in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and inspire future generations of agriculture leaders.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Shannon Powers – 717.603.2056; shpowers@pa.gov

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