California's Department of Food and Agriculture has announced it is taking applications for grants made through USDA's 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
USDA is putting up about $17 million to enhance competitiveness of the state's fruits, nuts, vegetables, horticulture and nursery crops. The grants will range in size from $50,000 to $500,000, CDFA said.
This year, USDA allocated $17.3 million to fund 64 projects in California, the largest total of all states.
The money went to projects researching food safety, promoting farm products through social media, boosting export markets, assisting beginning farmers, fighting invasive species and promoting pollinator health and integrated pest management.
USDA announced in September it had awarded $55 million nationwide through the program. California produces about 40 percent of U.S. specialty crops, according to CDFA.
Eligible applicants -- colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses and agencies of local, state, federal and tribal governments -- must start by submitting a concept proposal. Grant proposals will be requested of applicants who pass to the second phase.
CDFA is hosting workshops from Nov. 15-19. Concept proposals are due by Dec. 20.
-- Wes Sander
Application instructions are online at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants