Mar 11, 2015USDA announces $66.5 million for specialty, organic crops
USDA has announced the availability of more than $66.5 million in funding for research and Extension activities to address the needs of America’s specialty crop industry and solve critical organic agricultural production issues. The grants will be funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. Both programs are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and made available through the 2014 Farm Bill.
Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” SCRI develops and disseminates science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. The projects funded address research and Extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production, from researching plant genetics to improving crop characteristics; identifying and addressing threats from pests and diseases; improving production and profitability; developing new production innovations and technologies; and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards, according to USDA.
Past projects include a project at Michigan State University to develop sustainable pollination strategies for U.S. specialty crops, a grant to the University of Arkansas to create genomic resources needed for spinach to develop resistance to the downy mildew pathogen, and a project at North Carolina State University that is developing genomic tools to produce low cost and high-quality Christmas trees with properties desired by consumers.
SCRI pre-applications are due March 30, and full applications are due July 2.
The purpose of the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative is to fund high-priority research, education and Extension projects that enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high-quality organic products. Priority concerns include biological, physical and social sciences, including economics. Past projects include a project at Purdue University that addresses crop management issues faced by organic tomato producers.
A notification of intent to submit an application is due on April 1. Full applications are due April 30.
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