Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 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 and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. Both programs are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and made available through the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Investments in projects to help organic producers and specialty crop growers are an important way USDA helps American farmers establish new business opportunities throughout the country,” said Vilsack.
Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (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.
SCRI pre-applications are due March 30, 2015, and full applications are due July 2, 2015. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements, nifa.usda.gov.