The Arkansas Agriculture Department is accepting applications for the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline is Friday, April 13.

These grants help to enhance the specialty crop industry of Arkansas, which includes the growing and selling of fruits, vegetables, floriculture and nuts, according to a news release.

“For more than 10 years we have administered funding for projects that have helped bolster this sector of our agricultural industry by providing producer training, research on a variety of issues important to the industry, and improving access to Arkansas specialty crops,” Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, said.

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds have made a difference for Arkansas agriculture and we look forward to receiving the 2018 proposals,” Ward said.

According to the release, funding will be prioritized in the following areas for 2018 grant recipients:

• Projects that develop new marketing opportunities or campaigns;

• Projects to help farmers with business training;

• Research projects regarding new disease and/or pest management practices or devices;

• Projects that increase access to good agricultural practices and good handling practices; training;

• Projects that create or strengthen specialty crop producer/grower associations;

• Projects that study the impact an in-state organic certifier would have on specialty crops.

The AAD uses a two-phase application process for administering funds. Project concept proposals must be submitted using the online form at , by April 13. The project concept proposal will provide an outline of the project’s goals, tasks and budget requirements. After being reviewed by an advisory committee, the AAD will select projects and invite applicants to submit full applications.

Additional guidelines and instructions on completing and submitting an application, including the full Request for Applications (RFA), is available at .

The Arkansas Agriculture Department offers its programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

Grant applications are available at> and must be submitted to the AAD by Friday, April 13. Details: Christian Olson, or 501-219-6324.