AMS No. 163-08
Jimmie Turner (202) 720-6179
Hakim Fobia (202) 720-8998
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2008 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that the agency’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is providing regulations to administer the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.
The interim final rule is intended to establish eligibility and application requirements, the review and approval process, and grant administration procedures. Public comments will help USDA administer the grant program in a way that best meets the needs of recipients. After USDA reviews written comments, a final rule will be published.
Under the program, mandatory funding will be made available to the Secretary of Agriculture to provide specialty crop block grants of $10 million for fiscal year 2008, $49 million in 2009, and $55 million in each of fiscal years 2010 through 2012, less USDA administrative costs.
For each fiscal year, each state that submits an application that is reviewed and approved by AMS is to receive at least an amount that is equal to the higher of $100,000, or one-third of 1 percent of the total amount of funding made available for that fiscal year. In addition, each state will receive an amount that represents the proportion of the value of specialty crop production in the state in relation to the national value of specialty crop production, using the latest available complete specialty crop production data set.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill is authorized under the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, amended under section 10109 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). Section 10109 directs the Secretary of Agriculture to make grants to states to be used by state departments of agriculture solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. This program is separate from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) found in 7 CFR 1290.
The interim final rule, and request for comments on the rule and the information collection burden, will be published in the Sept. 4, 2008, Federal Register. Comments must be received by Nov. 3, 2008. Comments should be sent to www.regulations.gov or Docket Clerk, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Stop 0243, Washington, DC 20250-0243; fax: (202) 720-0016; or e-mail: Scblockgrants@usda.gov.
More information on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp.html.