Serving Montana Agriculture and growing prosperity under the Big Sky

SCBG: Eligibility


Definition of Specialty Crops

The Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 have defined specialty crops as "fruits and vegetables, peas and lentils, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)."

Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops. A list of eligible and non-eligible specialty crops can be found on the USDA Agricultural Marketing site.

Eligible Entities

two silos image by Todd KlassyEntities eligible for applying for SCBG funds are:

  • state and/or local organizations
  • government entities
  • producer associations
  • academia
  • community based organizations
  • other specialty crop stakeholders.

Eligible Projects

To be eligible for a grant, the project(s) must "solely enhance the competitiveness of U.S. or U.S. territory grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets." Projects must also benefit more than one commercial product (e.g., ABC Company brand), organization, or individual.

MDA encourages applicants to develop projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry by:

Providing Farmer Education on Specialty Crop(s)

  • Farm to institution practices
  • Value-added production
  • Farm and food safety
  • Organic production
  • Soil health and conservation
  • Industry promotion and marketing development

Planning and Supporting Infrastructures that Create or Support Specialty Crop(s)

  • Cost-sharing and cooperative models for storage
  • Distribution system efficiency, cost-savings and resiliency
  • Regional and state processing infrastructure planning
  • Farm to Institute

Supporting Research in the Areas of Specialty Crop(s)

  • Drought tolerant, Cold tolerant, and disease resistant varieties
  • Low external-input growing methods
  • Low-cost technology development for the producer
  • Use of beneficial organisms
  • Specialty crop training in production methods


Building Consumer and Buyer Relationships

  • Regional and statewide education and marketing efforts around specialty crop products
  • Marketing opportunities to connect producers and buyers


Strengthening Producer Networks and Associations

  • Producer networking events
  • Capacity building
  • Use of available forums for producer connections
  • Encourage consumer education

Representing a Geographic Diversity of Projects across the State, with Rural Consideration