Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Round of the Specialty Crop Block Grant

It is once again time for another round of USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant. This grant is to to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Through this program each state is allocated funding to award to organizations and associations that focus on specialty crops.

In Indiana grants are available in the range of $2,000 - $50,000 for activities and practices affecting the specialty crop industry including:
• increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption
• improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
• helping entities establish good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices
investing in research such as enhancing food safety, developing new and improved seed varieties &      specialty crops, pest and disease control and sustainability
• market promotion of qualified Indiana food & agricultural products

Applications must be submitted via email to ISDA by June 17, 2011. Commissions, public entities, associations, and/or nonprofit organizations that represent specialty crops as defined by USDA in Indiana agriculture are eligible to apply. A Guidance Document, Application and Scoresheet can be found on ISDA's website here.

Please note; a new change in the application process for this year is that all applicants must have a DUNS number. This is a federal requirement and can take a couple of weeks to obtain, so please plan accordingly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

National Ag Week

This week is National Ag Week! But here in Indiana we have declared March to be Agriculture Month. One Month to recognize farmers and all they do to provide us with a safe and reliable food source. One Month to recognize how diverse agriculture is from organically grown produce, to large scale animal production units, and from hardwoods to aquaculture. One Month to recognize that Agriculture touches every aspect of your life from the mint in the toothpaste you brush your teeth with everymorning, to the fuel you put in the car, to the crayons your kids color with.

Governor Mitch Daniels declared March Agriculture Appreciation Month in Indiana. The Hoosier celebration is an extension of National Ag Week, March 13-19.

The official proclamation reads, in part:

WHEREAS, the foundation of Indiana agriculture, farm production, occurs on 61,000 farms representing 14.8 million acres of farmland in the state; and

WHEREAS, the Hoosier farmer, a symbol of strength and strong moral fiber, has displayed ingenuity in times of prosperity and perseverance in the face of hardships, while supplying our state, our nation and the world with an abundance of high quality agriculture goods and products; and…

In honor of the month and in recognition of the significant economic and cultural contributions agriculture makes to the Hoosier state, Indiana’s Family of Farmers (IFoF), a coalition of more than a dozen ag-related organizations, will sponsor a series of events and initiatives during Agriculture Appreciation Month. Stay tuned to ISDA's facebook and twitter (@ISDAgov) accounts for more information.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thinking Spring... think grants for outdoor environmental projects

As I look out my window this morning I see some robins hoping around and some tulips just starting to poke up through the ground and it brings me hope that spring is on the way.  Soon I will be able to work outside in the yard, start planting my garden and enjoying warmer days in the sun.  Springtime usually brings a lot of planning from groups on outside projects they want to accomplish.  Today I am sharing a few environmental projects for communities and habitats.

Environmental Protection Agency: Technical Assistance Program for Sustainable Communities
Application deadline: March 31, 2011
This program provides support for the development and delivery of technical assistance programs that build the capacity of local and tribal governments to implement smart growth and sustainable communities development approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, facilitate job creation and economic opportunity, and improve overall quality of life. Priority will be given to programs that include provisions for standardized, “ready to go" smart growth/sustainable communities development tools, encompassing identified smart growth principles and/or the following livability principles: provide more transportation choices; promote equitable, affordable housing; enhance economic competitiveness; support existing communities; and value communities and neighborhoods. More details can be found on their website.

Fish and Wildlife Service: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Joint Venture Habitat Restoration and Protection
Application deadline: April 1, 2011
This program provides support to state and other partner projects for long-term habitat restoration, enhancement or protection, and conservation of native Great Lakes fish and wildlife populations, particularly migratory birds. Preference will be given to activities that help meet the habitat goals of the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture Implementation Plan or the Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain Bird Conservation Region Plan, other relevant bird conservation plans, and State Wildlife Action Plans.  More information can be found here.

Habitat Protection Programs in the Great Lakes Basin Supported Freshwater Future Grant Programs
Application Deadline: March 31, 2011
The Freshwater Future Grant Programs promote activities that strengthen the role of community groups working locally to protect habitats in the Great Lakes Basin. The Project Grant Program provides support for grassroots groups engaging in advocacy activities and projects to protect local lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other aquatic habitats. The Climate Funding Program offers grants to encourage local communities to become better prepared to handle the impacts of climate change.  The Insight Services Grant Program provides grants to be used for Freshwater Future’s professional services in organizational development and strategy assistance, including one-on-one coaching and group training and facilitation. Requests for this program may be submitted at any time. Visit Freshwater Future’s website for application guidelines for each of these programs.  More details regarding this program can be found here.

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