Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Awards 11 Grants to Support Specialty Crop Producers

Specialty Crop Block Grants are offered in partnership with USDA

DES MOINES, Iowa (Aug. 23, 2023) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has awarded over $355,000 in grants to help grow demand for Iowa’s specialty crops. The funding will be distributed to support 11 projects that raise awareness about, drive demand for, or create new markets benefiting Iowa’s specialty crops. The grant dollars are made available through a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are funded through the Farm Bill.

“With the launch of the Choose Iowa program and the strong consumer demand for local foods, including Iowa grown specialty crops, these grants will continue to build our state’s capacity to meet these growing markets,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Specialty Crop Block Grants are an important component of the Farm Bill because they enhance the diversity of Iowa agriculture, build markets, invest in education and assist with scientific research, all of which benefit consumers and growers in Iowa and beyond.”

The specialty crop block grants will be awarded to the following organizations to assist with the following initiatives:

Iowa State University
Helping Iowa farmers get sweet corn to market earlier: Evaluating sweet corn cultivars for emergence and vigor in cold soils.

Practical Farmers of Iowa
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall: Investigating seasonal growing strategies by trialing a multitude of season extension practices.

Iowa State University
Pest and pesticide resistance monitoring for Iowa fruit growers.

Practical Farmers of Iowa
On-farm food safety upgrades for fruit and vegetable growers to access more markets.

Iowa State University
Improving the quality of Iowa red wines by increasing the tannins through the use of grape stems.

Iowa State University
Developing accurate yield estimation methods for Iowa vineyards and wineries.

Iowa Specialty Crop Producers Association
Providing for the Iowa Specialty Producers Conference.

Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development
Increasing markets for specialty cut flowers in northeast Iowa through the development of a regional flower hub toolkit.

Lutheran Services in Iowa
Increasing wholesale markets for refugee specialty crop producers in Iowa.

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Vegging out to increase nutrition and agriculture knowledge.

Iowa State University
Iowa Kids Garden Day: Launching a statewide celebration of specialty crop gardening at Iowa K-12 schools and early childhood education centers.

Iowa continues to have a very competitive grant process. The Department received 20 eligible applications totaling a request of $598,455, though could only fully fund 10 projects and partially fund one additional project with our annual allocation of $355,599.70.


About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Don McDowell
Communications Director