Melissa Ball is the Special Projects Manager at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Division of Market Development. She works with fifteen agricultural commodity boards and administers Virginia’s portion of the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. She holds an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA in English from the University of Mary Washington.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) was established by the federal government to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Each state receives a portion of the allocation based on their volume and value of specialty crops produced. Virginia uses a competitive grant process to reach a broad spectrum of regions, crops, and producers. Since 2006, Melissa has managed nearly $6 million in grant funds for hundreds of projects ranging from Christmas trees to tomatoes.