The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering grants to fund new projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace.

The program, managed by NCDA&CS, is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant established by the 2008 farm bill. 
Nearly $1.2 million will be available in 2009 through a competitive grant process for projects that benefit the specialty crop industry.

NCDA&CS will accept grant applications ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 from non-profit organizations and corporations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges, and universities. Applicants must reside or their business or educational affiliation must be in North Carolina. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 19.

Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops.

Grants will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.

For grant guidelines and application, contact the NCDA&CS Marketing Division at SpecialtyCropGrant@ncagr.gov, by phone at (919) 733-7887, or by mail at Specialty Crop Grant, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1020. More information can be found online at http://www.NCspecialtycropgrant.org.