Ag Briefs

Specialty Crop Research and Development Grants Available

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging organizations that benefit Minnesota fruit, vegetable, and other specialty crop producers to apply for Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) to help increase the competitiveness of their crops in local, regional or global markets. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. Grant projects can begin as early as Nov. 1, and can take up to two-and-a-half years to complete.

Examples of projects include research on a disease or pest affecting a specialty crop, improving a distribution system, development of improved plant varieties, technical assistance to producers to increase profitability, and producer education on compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act requirements.

“Interest in passive solar deep winter greenhouses are growing among Minnesota farmers. The University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) have worked with pioneering deep winter greenhouse producers and University experts to develop an improved publicly available prototype design and lead production workshops for interested growers,” said David Schweser. “Cost of construction is still their main barrier to beginning a winter production enterprise. With Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, the RSDP will lead a new project to develop a new, more affordable design to reduce barriers to entry for small and medium sized farms.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture and processed products with 50 percent or more specialty crop content by weight. Nonprofit organizations, producer organizations, government agencies, universities, and other organizations involved in research, education, or market development of specialty crops are eligible/encouraged to apply. Eligible project costs include personnel, consultant and subcontractor services, supplies and materials, travel, equipment rental, special purpose equipment, and other costs necessary for completion of the project. Funding for these grants is through the USDA from the Farm Bill. Approximately $1.1 million is available for grants that range from $10,000 to $100,000.

Grant applications are submitted through our online application system. Additional information, including the Request for Proposal, funding priorities, questions and answers, and previously funded project summaries can be accessed from the Specialty Crop Grant website. Proposals that are approved by the MDA will be notified in April and included in MDA’s application to the USDA for a Specialty Crop Block Grant in May 2019.

County farmers are active in the community, often meet at Pizza Ranch in Marshall

The Lyon County Corn and Soybean Growers Board is a vital part of the agricultural community in southwestern Minnesota. Participating in events such as Southwest Minnesota State University Ag Bowl, Lyon County Breakfast on the Farm, local FFA and 4-H programs, the Lyon County Growers seek active, progressive farmers to help spread the positive message of corn and soybeans while supporting the agricultural community.

“Serving on the county board really allows me to help farmers,” said Lyon County Corn and Soybean Growers Board President Ken Lanoue. “Knowing I can help promote the agriculture industry in Lyon County is really why I enjoy being part of the board.”

Lyon County is looking for representation on the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Board of Directors. The board of directors consist of representatives from each county soybean organization that works together to represent Minnesota Soybean farmers to advocate for government policies and support research to help improve profitability of soybean farmers.

In addition, the Lyon County Corn and Soybean Growers seeks individuals interested in serving on the county board, which is the oldest serving county corn and soybean association in Minnesota.

“New board members allow us to grow our organization,” Lanoue said. “It’s all about trying new things and getting new ideas for events in the county, and that only comes from getting new people to serve on the county and state board.”

Those interested may contact Lyon County Corn and Soybean Growers President Ken Lanoue at 507-829-7932 or Minnesota Soybean Regional Project Manager Sam Johnson, at 507-613-0001 or

The Lyon County Corn & Soybean Growers Association is affiliated with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, which oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of approximately 25,000 farmers in Minnesota. The Council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. This money is used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.

AgriBusiness Monthly Luncheon is Jan. 22

Bruce Peterson, executive director, Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence and dean of Energy Technologies for Minnesota West, will share a brief look back where Minnesota has been with electrical production, current status, and projections for where we are heading. He will also share some highlights of programming at Minnesota West to prepare technicians for this ever evolving industry. The AgriBusiness Monthly Luncheon is from noon-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Bello Cucina, 100 W. College Drive, Marshall.

The cost is $10/person (includes lunch). Contact Brad Gruhot at