The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is now accepting proposals for federal specialty crop grants. The agency has been notified Illinois will receive more than $520,000 and instructed to begin the proposal selection process. The deadline to apply will be May 13. “This year the United States Department of Agriculture is encouraging projects that benefit underserved communities and veterans, improving producer capacity with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, developing adaptation and mitigation strategies for farmers in drought-stricken regions, increasing opportunities for new and beginning farmers, developing strong local and regional food systems, protecting pollinator habitats and improving pollinator health, to name a few," said Acting Director Raymond Poe. "These funds may lead to projects that help feed communities, encourage more participation in agriculture, or increase a farmer's profitability and productivity." Request for proposal packets and additional information about the program can be found online at the department's website at www.agr.state.il.us. For more information call (217) 524-9129.