SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — More than $500,000 will be available for Illinois crop growers over the next three years thanks to a special program in the 2023 Farm Bill, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced on Monday.
The allocation of funds, IDOA said, serves two purposes: to expand the availability of fresh, locally grown produce and to strengthen the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry. Applications for $544,000 of grant funding are now available on the IDOA website and must be returned by 11:59 p.m. on March 23.
To be eligible for funding, all projects must begin in calendar year 2024 and eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, local and government entities, trade and commodity associations and colleges and universities, both public and private. IDOA encouraged applications benefiting smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers and/or underserved communities and invited any project pertaining to the following issues:
- Enhancing food safety.
- Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act,
- Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes.
- Supporting the growth of organic specialty crops.
- Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops.
- Improving pest and disease control.
- Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops.
- Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.
Projects that benefit a particular commercial project or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual are ineligible. Farmers markets, roadside stands and community-sponsored agriculture programs should consider submitting proposals to the USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.