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Illinois Specialty Crop Block Grant

The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has been allocated funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to administer the program.

These funds are supporting projects that are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry.

Illinois currently devotes more than 100,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produce nearly $500 million in sales for Illinois farmers. 

To encourage further expansion of this industry, and to take full advantage of the allocated funds, the Department invites the development of projects pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry:

  • Enhancing food safety;
  • Improving compliance with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act;
  • Investing in specialty crop research and technology;
  • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
  • Improving pest and disease control;
  • Improving Food Access in Underserved Communities and Among Veterans
  • Protecting and improving pollinator health;
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops.

Applications for grant funds should describe how the project potentially affects and produces measurable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, or individual.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture will not award grant funds for projects whose products or services promote or provide profit that solely benefits a single organization, institution, or individual.   

Examples of Acceptable Projects:

  • A non-profit organization requests funds to demonstrate the viability of organic small fruit production and partners with Cooperative Extension to publicize the working model of diversification to other regional growers.
  • A single farmer implements food safety practices or models on his/her property to meet food safety requirements and conducts a field day and training services to encourage other small family farmers to adopt the methods

Grants for project will be awarded through a competitive review process that includes the use of an independent committee of stakeholders from the agricultural community. 

The 2025 (FFY2024) grant application window opened February 1, 2024.  The application period will close March 22, 2024 at 11:59 pm. Please click here for SCBG application submission details. 

Program Contact Information

Hannah McGee
ISCBG Grant Administrator
Illinois Department of Agriculture   
801 E. Sangamon Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702

E-mail:  AGR.ISCBG@Illinois.gov

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