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​​​Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

The purpose of the Commonwealth Specialty Crop program is to enhance, but not replace, the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program by establishing a grant program for specialty crops that are not currently eligible for grant payments under the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, or that are otherwise designated high-priority specialty crops by the Secretary. Crops identified as high priority crops are hemp, honey, hardwood, hops, and flax for fiber only. Funding for the Program will assist the growth, certification of seed, and marketing of these eligible specialty crops.

Guidelines & Uses

Projects must enhance the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops and benefit the eligible specialty crop industry as a whole and may include, but are not limited to, projects such as:

    • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
    • Participation of industry representatives at meetings of international standard setting bodies in which the Federal Government participates
    • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
    • Assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chains in developing good agricultural practices, including the use of cover crops for specialty crop production; good handling practices; good manufacturing practices; and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
    • Investing in specialty crop research, including the use of cover crops for specialty crop production, organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes and enhancing food safety
    • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops
    • Pest and disease control
    • Sustainability

Funding Opportunities​

The sum of $460,0000 will be awarded out for projects enhancing the competitiveness of Pennsylvania specialty crops, giving priority to the following crops, hemp, hardwoods, honey, hops, and barley rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting only, and flax for fiber only. There are no minimum or maximum grant amounts.

    • This is a reimbursement grant. The amount of reimbursement is based eligible costs submitted by an approved applicant for an approved project during the fiscal year in which the grant is offered.
    • Grants will be awarded on a funds-available basis.
    • Grant funds cannot be expended with respect to purchases or services that predate the effective date of the grant agreement.
    • In-kind support will not be counted toward an applicant's matching contribution.
    • PDA reserves the right to offer an award amount less than the amount requested. 

Eligible & Ineligible Costs

Eligible Costs

    • Rental costs of land and building space. However, lease agreements to own (i.e., lease-to-own or rent-to-own) are not allowable. The lease or rental agreement must terminate at the end of the grant cycle.
    • Conference that fulfills the purpose of a grant program's legislated purpose.
    • Rent a building or room for training.
    • Contractual/Consultant Costs (Professional Services)
    • Rental costs of general-purpose equipment when provided in the approved budget or with prior written approval. Vehicles may be leased but not purchased.  Acquisition costs and rental costs of special purpose equipment provided the criteria are met.
    • Website development, mobile apps, etc., that are not considered to be information technology systems but rather social media applications.
    • Insurance and Indemnification
    • Lunch or dinner meals if the costs are reasonable, and a justification is provided that such activity maintains the continuity of the meeting and to do otherwise will impose arduous conditions on the meeting participants. As well as meals consumed while in official travel status.
    • Costs of membership in business, technical, and professional organizations when provided in the approved budget or with prior written approval.
    • Participant Support Costs
    • Pre-Award Costs
    • Printing and Publications
    • Rearrangement and Reconversion Costs
    • Salaries and Wages - salaries, wages, and fringe benefits for project staff who devote time and effort to activities and that meet the legislated purpose of the grant program.
    • Costs associated with printing, distribution, or promotion of coupons/tokens or price discounts as long as they benefit more than a single program or organization.
    • Selling and Marketing Costs- Costs designed to promote products that align with the purpose of the grant program.
    • Supplies and Materials, Including Costs of Computing Devices
    • Training Costs
    • Travel-Domestic and Foreign

Ineligible Costs

    • Advisory Councils
    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Building and Land acquisition or construction
    • Contingency Provisions
    • Contributions or Donations
    • Electronic Benefit Transfer Machines
    • Entertainment Costs including amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs
    • Acquisition costs of general-purpose equipment or lease agreements to own
    • Farm, gardening, and production activities, materials, supplies, and other related costs including but not limited to soil, seeds, shovels, gardening tools, greenhouses, and hoop houses.
    • Fines, Penalties, Damages and Other Settlements
    • Fundraising and Investment Management Costs
    • Good or services for personal use
    • Lobbying
    • Business meals when individuals go to lunch or dine together although no need exists for continuity of a meeting.
    • Membership costs for any civic or community organization
    • Political Activities
    • Costs designed solely to promote the image of an organization, a general logo, or a general brand.
    • Costs for promotion of specific venues, tradeshows, events, meetings, programs, conventions, symposia, seminars, etc. that do not align with the legislated purpose of the grant program.
    • Promotional items, swag, gifts, prizes, memorabilia, and souvenirs
    • Costs of the value of coupon/incentive redemptions or price discounts
    • Purchasing food for displays, tastings, and cooking demonstrations
    • Costs associated with sponsorships
    • Costs associated with trade show attendance/displays, meeting room reservations, and/or any other displays, demonstrations, exhibits, or rental of space where activities do not specifically align with the purpose of the grant program.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted through the Single Application for Assistance online application system

Interested applicants must apply by completing the Full Proposal application by using the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application ("ESA") website, at:

Full Proposals must be submitted on or before 5:00 p.m. on April 19, 2024. Questions regarding this grant and/or the competitive solicitation process should be directed to PDA at 717-614-5730 or

Phase I: Full Proposal

Release Request for Full Proposals

March 2024

Full Proposals Due

5:00 p.m. on April 19, 2024

Phase II: Final Grant Proposal (by invitation only)

Invitation to Submit Final Proposals to be considered for Funding

May 2024

Final Proposals Due to PDA

May 2024


Announcement of Award Funding

June 2024

    • Competitive solicitation and review process (two phases: Phase I, Full Proposal and Phase II, Final Grant Proposal for review) Projects with the highest combined scores will be invited to complete a Final Grant Proposal for consideration for funding.

Reporting Requirements

    • An Annual Performance Report must be received within 30 days after the end of the first year of the date of the signed grant agreement.
    • Final Performance Reports are due no later than 90 calendar days after the period of performance end date.
    • Invoice requirements- request(s) for reimbursement
    • Site visits
    • Recipients are required to submit a Federal Financial Report with each performance report to account for their financial expenditures during that reporting period.
    • Changes requiring prior written approval:
      • Change in Key Personnel/Time Devoted to the Project
      • Change in scope or objectives
      • One-Time Extension
      • Budget change
      • Contracting or Subawarding for Activities Central to the Award's Purpose(s)
      • Recipient Name or Address
      • Amount of Cost share or match

Grant Awardees