State Agriculture Commissioner Announces 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to Strengthen New York's Agricultural Industry

Proposals Currently Being Sought for Research and Grower Education Projects
Grant Application Period Moved Up to Better Align with Off-Season for Volunteer Farmer Review Panel

January 7, 2016


New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that the Department, in partnership with the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), is now accepting applications for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.  The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The Department and NYFVI are seeking proposals for research and grower education projects that will boost the competitiveness of New York’s specialty crops and enhance the long-term success of the State’s agri-businesses.  New York State’s specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, hops, maple syrup, honey, and nursery crops.


Applications for the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant program are available at   


Commissioner Ball said, “The Specialty Crop Block Grant program has been hugely successful in developing innovative solutions for the agricultural industry—from extending the growing season to developing new pest management strategies.  We thank the New York Farm Viability Institute for its partnership in this program.”


The timeline for this year’s annual grant application process has been moved up several months to better align with the off-season for the review process.  Opening the application period in January allows NYFVI to coordinate its review of similar research projects submitted to its other grant programs.


NYFVI Board of Directors Chair Jim Bittner said, “Farm Viability is pleased to partner with the Department on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Starting the application process during the winter will allow our volunteer farmer review panels to fully read and evaluate the proposals, ensuring the projects selected will be the most relevant for New York specialty crop farmers.”


Individual projects can be awarded up to $100,000.  Proposals may address a wide range of challenges and opportunities related to the competitiveness of the State’s specialty crop industry, including research and grower education projects that will create new partnerships, increase efficiencies, reduce costs, foster innovation and enhance the long-term viability of specialty crop agri-businesses across the State.


The following priority areas have been identified: 


  • research and/or education addressing a key conventional or organic production problem or need specific to New York State;

  • developing and increasing the utilization of Integrated Pest Management strategies and programs;

  • prioritizing and addressing native and exotic pests and disease threats through development of pest risk assessments;

  • supporting plant breeding for the development of specialty crops resistant to exotic and native pests;

  • applied research and development to extend the growing season of New York specialty crops through new technologies, improved management practices, or other innovative production strategies; and

  • developing new seed varieties and specialty crops with optimal performance under New York State conditions.


The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is administered through the Department in coordination with the NYFVI. The NYFVI will evaluate the proposals and submit its recommendations to the Department for inclusion in the agency’s application to the USDA. 


Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, not-for-profit educational institutions, and local and Indian tribal governments. Applications are due Sunday, February 14, 2016. Projects must be completed within two years from the award date.  For more information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, please visit:   For application details, please visit:


For full press release, please visit the website of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.