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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 24-644



Agricultural Center for Plant Excellence

[54 Pa.B. 2503]
[Saturday, May 11, 2024]

 The Department of Agriculture (Department) is soliciting applications to administer, manage and oversee the Center for Plant Excellence (Center). This notice establishes the procedures by which applications will be solicited, reviewed and awarded. This funding is made available through the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Agriculture Excellence fund. The Department intends to make up to $250,000 available for a grant under this solicitation.

 1. Grant Solicitation. The Department will accept grant applications for the purposes in the form and according to the schedule set forth as follows.

 2. Purpose.

 (a) To support the development and viability of plant industries in this Commonwealth. This includes, but is not limited to, research and development, supply chain and market development, processing infrastructure, consumer safety and quality assurance.

 (b) This proposal aims to advance the industries through a centralized, dedicated and mutually beneficial Center that provides a concentration and streamlining of resources and interdisciplinary expertise to collaborate, research, create, promote and disseminate specialized information and create a viable supply chain to better address the needs and challenges of plant industries in this Commonwealth.

 (c) For purposes of the proposal and the intention of the Center, the definition of ''plant'' is inclusive. It includes horticultural crops as well as the United States Department of Agriculture definitions of ''specialty crop'' and the Commonwealth's additional distinctions of ''specialty crops'' to include fruits, vegetables, vineyards, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture, hemp, sunflower, hardwoods, honey, hops and barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting purposes or other crops as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary).

 3. Intent. The intent of the Center is to focus on plant industry needs across this Commonwealth. Key areas of focus for the Center will include, but will not be limited to:

 a. Plant health and protection.

 b. Research and development.

 c. Controlled environment agriculture.

 d. Processing infrastructure.

 e. Seed genetics and quality assurance.

 f. Production yields and return on investment.

 g. Resource center for related educational materials.

 4. Governance. The Center will be guided by a Board of Directors (Board) and overseen by an administrator. The Board will be representative of plant industry sectors, and it will include a diverse group of agricultural stakeholders, with input in plan development from the Board, who will draft and submit a workplan which the Department reviews and approves; however, the Board who will have input in plan development to ensure stakeholder representation and to meet industry needs. In delivering on the mission of the Center, the administrator will be tasked with stakeholder engagement. This includes meetings and open lines of communications with the Board, industry representatives, the Department and all other appropriate stakeholders. The administrator will work in consultation with others in performing a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats analysis. Identifying existing regulatory authority will guide the work of the Center. Monthly meetings with Department staff will provide a report of deliverables, challenges, new opportunities and spending.

 5. Application Requirements.

 a. The applicant's name, business address and contact information.

 b. A detailed description of the project for which the grant is sought.

 c. Specification of the exact purpose (or purposes), as previously presented in section 2, that will be achieved by the project.

 d. The details of the project for which reimbursement grant money is sought, including the following:

 i. A project budget.

 ii. A statement of the maximum amount of grant money sought for the project.

 iii. A project implementation schedule, as appropriate for the project or purchase with respect to which the grant is sought.

 iv. A brief narrative identifying each entity that will assist with and participate in the project.

 e. An attestation signed by the applicant, verifying the accuracy of the information presented on the application.

 6. Application Delivery and Deadline. Interested applicants must submit a complete electronic proposal and grant application using the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application web site at by Friday, June 14, 2024, at 5 p.m.

 7. Transmittal of Application to the Department. When the Department receives a complete and accurate grant application, it will forward a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved or rejected, whether the grant should be in an amount less than requested and whether any special restrictions or limitations should be placed on the grant.

 (a) Review of Committee. The Secretary will appoint a review committee to review and evaluate all applications and supporting documentation and to make recommendations to the Secretary.

 (b) Decisions. The Secretary will review all recommendations of the review committee and will have final authority to accept or reject these recommendations.

 8. Notice of Award. Applicants shall be notified by mail of the decision on their grant application by the Department. Best efforts will be made to do so within 60 days of the application deadline.

 9. Grant Agreement. After the Secretary approves a grant application, and as a precondition to the Department's release of grant moneys to a successful applicant, the Department and the applicant will execute a written or electronic grant agreement which describes the terms and conditions subject to which the grant is made. The grant agreement will contain and conform to the requirements of this notice and will also contain any special terms and conditions as required by the Secretary. Among the terms of the grant agreement will be a requirement that the grant recipient provide the Department full and complete access to all records relating to the performance of the project and submit the information as the Department may require. Applicants who wish to view the full terms and conditions of the grant agreement in advance of submitting an application may contact the Department at the address set forth in section 11. Applicants who are unable to agree to the terms and conditions should not apply.

 10. Delivery of Grant Funds by the Department. As this grant is a reimbursement grant, the Department will not issue grant money until the successful applicant submits the following to the Department:

 a. A verified statement that the eligible project has been implemented.

 b. Bills and invoices demonstrating that expenses were incurred for which reimbursement grant funds are sought.

 c. Other information as the Department might reasonably require.

 11. Questions and Additional Information. Questions on this grant program, including the online application process, may be directed to Morgan Sheffield, Grants Office, Department of Agriculture, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408, (717) 787-3568.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 24-644. Filed for public inspection May 10, 2024, 9:00 a.m.]

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