MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Key senators and farm groups are trying to fix a provision in the federal tax overhaul that gave an unexpected tax break to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives instead of other buyers.
The provision from Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota surfaced in the final days of the debate over the tax bill. Companies that aren't co-ops include local grain companies as well as agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ADM.
The senators say they didn't intend to give co-ops and their farmer-members a competitive advantage over other companies. They say they just wanted to make sure farmers' taxes didn't rise. But observers say it's not clear if a fix can pass, given the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.
BISMARCK, ND (NDDA) - Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced that applications are now being accepted for 2018 Specialty Crop Grants.
"Projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in North Dakota are eligible for these grants," Goehring said. "We encourage organizations, institutions and individuals to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships."
North Dakota has not yet received an allocation amount from USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service but is expected to receive it in February 2018. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) will distribute the funds through a competitive grant program.
Eligible applications include enhancing food safety; pest and disease control; developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; and increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops. Projects that directly benefit specific, commercial products or profit a single organization, institution or individual are not eligible.
The USDA defines specialty crops as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops." Specialty crops grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, potatoes, confection sunflowers, grapes, honey and various vegetables.
Goehring said an information manual with application instructions, scoring criteria and an application template can be found on NDDA's website: https://www.nd.gov/ndda/marketing-information-division/specialty-crop-block-grant-program.
Applications must be submitted in electronic form by 4 p.m. CDT Thursday, March 15, 2018. An external review committee will review and score the applications. The successful applications will be forwarded to the USDA for final approval. The grants will be awarded in late fall/early winter.
Projects funded by the grants start Oct. 1, 2018 and must be completed by Sept. 30, 2020.
Goehring said persons needing more information should contact Emily Edlund at (701) 328-2191 or edlundnd.gov.
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