NIFA Invests $35 Million in Specialty Crop Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 12 new grants totaling $35 million for science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry.  Funding is made through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Specialty crops generally fetch high value for the farmers, but require more intensive farming than conventional crops, such as wheat or corn,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA investments in specialty crop research provide high-tech solutions to the needs of farmers and processors. They foster a competitive U.S. industry that offers abundant, nutritious, safe and affordable food sources.” Continue reading

Citrus Disease Research and Extension (CDRE)

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE) is authorized in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642) to award grants to eligible entities to conduct research and extension activities, technical assistance and development activities to: (a) combat citrus diseases and pests, both domestic and invasive and including huanglongbing and the Asian citrus psyllid, which pose imminent harm to United States citrus production and threaten the future viability of the citrus industry; and (b) provide support for the dissemination and commercialization of relevant information, techniques, and technologies discovered pursuant to research and extension activities funded through SCRI/CDRE and other research and extension projects targeting problems caused by citrus production diseases and invasive pests. Continue reading

National specialty crop project explores new possibilities for grafted tomato and cucurbit plants

Five years ago, a North Carolina State University-led specialty crop project helped several U.S. growers use grafted tomato plants to return land plagued by bacterial wilt to production. The project paired needy growers with companies such as Ontario Plant Propagators that supplied grafted plants. Now NC State researchers are leading a new project that promises to find ways that grafted plants can give growers more choices to manage diseases and add value to their cucurbit and tomato crops. Continue reading

NIFA Announces up to $48.1 Million in Funding Available for Specialty Crop Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released details on up to $48.1 million in available funding to support systems-based research and extension activities to accelerate science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grants yesterday at the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. The grants are to be funded through NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).

“The Specialty Crop Research Initiative offers strategic investments to help bring specialty crops to market,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “By using this approach, we encourage stakeholders to work together to address problem-solving in a comprehensive way that leads to sustainable, positive outcomes and impacts.” Continue reading

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) RFA is available

The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas:

  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
  • Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
  • New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production, efficiency, handling and processing of specialty crops.

Deadline: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 5 PM ET

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Secretary Vilsack Announces $36.5 Million for Specialty Crop Research and Extension Investments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 19 grants totaling $36.5 million for research and extension to support American farmers growing fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“America’s specialty crop farmers face many challenges ranging from a changing climate to increasing production costs. Investing in cutting edge research helps uncover solutions to keep their operations viable and ensures Americans have access to safe, affordable and diverse food options,” said Vilsack. “The universities, state departments of agriculture and trade associations that partner with USDA address challenges at the national and local levels to help sustain all parts of America’s food and agriculture system, whether the farms are small or large, conventional or organic.” Continue reading

Impact Spotlight: Tackling citrus greening

From the National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, is a disease that causes citrus trees to produce small, bitter fruit that drop prematurely and cannot be sold or used for juice. It is caused by a bacterial disease that is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid, which feeds on the stems and leaves of citrus trees.

Citrus greening continues to impact the Florida citrus industry. The state has lost approximately 100,000 citrus acres and $3.6 billion in revenues since 2007. Continue reading