Cover photo for Minnesota Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Minnesota Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Closed March 21, 2024

This grant funds projects that will increase the competitiveness of Minnesota grown specialty crops in domestic and foreign markets. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, floriculture, and processed products that have 50% or more specialty crop content by weight, exclusive of added water. A comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops is available on the USDA's web site.

Funding Priorities

Minnesota is seeking projects for our 2023 SCBG that pertain to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • Improving distribution systems and marketing of specialty crops, such as reducing costs, increasing promotion and awareness, or creating new methods to achieve and sustain profitable businesses.

  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.

  • Researching and developing of techniques that focus on pest or disease control.

  • Developing new or improved specialty crop seed or plant varieties.

  • Researching and developing techniques to increase sustainable production of specialty crops, including growing season extension, adaption to drought and floods, strengthening seed and crop systems, and increasing soil health.

  • Improve capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and other support for farmers, packers, and processors to enhance food safety.



Applicant Eligibility

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) encourages the following groups to apply for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP):

  • nonprofit organizations

  • producer organizations

  • government agencies

  • universities

  • other agricultural groups

For-profit entities, farms, and other businesses who want to develop sector-wide research and development projects are also eligible.

Project Eligibility

Projects must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that are grown in Minnesota by:

  • Leveraging efforts to market and promote specialty crops;

  • Assisting producers with research and development relevant to specialty crops;

  • Expanding availability and access to specialty crops; or

  • Addressing local and regional challenges confronting specialty crop producers.

specialty crop is defined by the USDA. This program cannot fund starting a business or expanding a farm. Each project must demonstrate external support from specialty crop stakeholders and produce measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or public beneficiaries. Projects that address problems or opportunities that cross state boundaries are eligible.

Visit the USDA's SCBGP Awarded Grants page to see previously funded projects in Minnesota and across the country.


Applicants may request a grant award of at least $20,000 up to a maximum of $125,000 per project that spans up to 2.5 years.

Application Instructions

Applications are due no later than 4:00 pm Central Time on Monday, March 13, 2023.

Read the full Request for Proposals (PDF) for eligibility and requirements and apply online at this portal. If you need the application in an alternative format, please contact the program administrators above.



March 21, 2024

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Updated March 26, 2024

Image Credit: Christina Rumpf

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