LA CROSSE, Wis. -- -

Groups studying specialty crops in Wisconsin now have a new way to fund their work.

A federal grant will give those studying specialty crops like  fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, or horticulture the opportunity to receive between $10,000 to $100,000 in grant money.

The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection says the new program will be open for applications this Thursday.

It's open to both government agencies and private businesses.

An organic specialist says the grant money is also helpful in educating consumers about the benefits of specialty crops.

"It's helping them have a better understanding of what these crops are all about and why they should include them in their diet and on their dinner table. The other side is to have them be an economically viable enterprise through research," said Harriet Behar, organic specialist with MOSES.

Last year 18 Wisconsin organizations shared $800,000 of grant money.