NASDA seeks specialty crop block grant flexibility

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NASDA seeks specialty crop block grant flexibility

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is requesting additional flexibility for states’ use of specialty crop block grants.

Emergency funds were made available in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Acting Ag Secretary Kevin Shea, NASDA CEO Barb Glenn says state ag departments appreciated the short-term relief, but continued flexibility is needed because COVID-related challenges are still present.

NASDA is asking for flexibility for state ag departments to fund projects with direct or indirect benefits to specialty crop competitiveness. It is also asking to extend funding beyond 2024.

Glenn outlined ways the departments could use the grants if given approval. The examples included addressing inequities in the food system, funding to offset costs related to some COVID-19 prevention measures, and implementing vaccination programs for ag and food workers.

NASDA is asking the USDA and the Office of Management and Budget to consider granting these flexibilities within the Specialty Crop Block Grants.