Illinois farmers who hope to gain a share of more than $520,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture should submit their proposals to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.


The state agriculture department announced Monday that it is accepting proposals for the federal specialty crop grants.


Communication Manager Rebecca Clark said specialty crops could range from horseradish to pumpkins and more.


“Illinois grapes are a specialty crop,” Clark said. “It’s a very booming industry for the state of Illinois. You’ve also got lima beans, sweet corn, peas, cantaloupe.”


Program administrators also seek projects that benefit underserved communities and veterans.

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Farmers also can be considered for projects that could help the agriculture industry by “looking at ways to make that crop more sustainable to drought or floods or other things that Mother Nature can throw our way,” Clark said.


Clark said because the money is a federal grant and does not require state matching dollars, the nearly 9-month-old state budget impasse will not affect the awards.


Applications on specialty crops and projects are being accepted at the Illinois Department of Agriculture until May 13, with awards expected after the start of the federal fiscal year in October.