On Friday, USDA made available $28.4 million for research and extension projects in fiscal year 2008 to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address needs of specific crops. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative has five focus areas: 1) plant breeding, genetics and genomics research to improve crop characteristics; 2) efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases; 3) innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening; 4) efforts to improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; and 5) methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production and processing of specialty crops.
"This is a substantial investment in scientific research and technology for production of specialty crops that will advance their large contribution to
Funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative was a major initiative in USDA's farm bill proposal and is authorized through the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. The 2008 farm bill provides an additional $50 million each year for fiscal years 2009 through 2012 for a total of $230 million over the five years of the farm bill. Those interested in applying for funding can access the request for applications online at www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/specialty_crop.html.