(Dec. 8, WEB EXCLUSIVE) The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking for comments on proposed changes to the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program.

The changes include raising the funding cap, changing the guidelines for project duration and the allowed number of projects undertaken at one time, according to an early December news release from the agency.

The program helps open and expand markets for U.S. specialty crops, which are defined as all cultivated plans and their products except wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice, peanuts, sugar and tobacco.

The proposed regulation changes include:

  • increasing the funding cap on projects from $250,000 to $500,000 per year;

  • increasing the maximum duration of projects from three to five years; and

  • increasing the number of projects allowed by one participant from three to five

Comments on the changes can be at www.regulations.gov, the USDA said. Comments are due by Jan. 2.