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Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grants Announced

October 3, 2014

On October 2, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $51 million in awards from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).  SCRI provides grants for regional research and extension projects to support producers of fruits, vegetables, nursery crops, and other specialty crops.

This is the first time since 2012 that SCRI has made grant awards.  When the 2008 Farm Bill was extended for 2013, several programs including SCRI, were left stranded with no funding.  The 2014 Farm Bill restored mandatory funding for SCRI through Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond.

Secretary Vilsack made the announcement in Miami, Florida, the second leading specialty crop producing state.

A total of 23 grants were awarded in 14 states.  Grant awards ranged from $32,212 for a planning grant at the University of Georgia to $4.5 million for a food safety related project at the University of Maryland.  USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture which administers the program has not yet posted information about the subject matter and aim of the individual awards.  We will update this post once they make that information available.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative

SCRI was first authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill as a competitive grant program that supports specialty crop research and extension projects conducted by federal agencies, national laboratories, colleges and universities, research institutions and organizations, private organizations, corporations, State agricultural experiment stations, and individuals.

SCRI has five focus areas mandated by the farm bill that will each receive at least 10 percent of the annual funding available.  The five mandated focus areas are:

  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases
  • Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long-term
  • New innovations and technology
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, and respond to potential food safety hazards in production and processing

Funding for SCRI

The 2008 Farm Bill provided $30 million in mandatory funding for 2008, $50 million in mandatory funding for each year from 2009 to 2012, and mandated the five focus areas that still exist today.  However, when the 2008 Farm Bill expired on October 1, 2012, SCRI’s authorization also expired and no further funding was provided until the 2014 Farm bill passed in January 2014.

The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for SCRI to $80 million each year.  Of that amount, $25 million is set aside for citrus disease research.  The 2014 Farm Bill provides permanent baseline funding for future years beyond the life of the current farm bill.  Thus the ten-year cost of the program is $800 million.





Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Research, Education & Extension

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