U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Friday announced $46 million worth of specialty crop grants through USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative.
The Deputy Secretary says the grants – 29 of them in 19 states – will help growers to maintain profitable production of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts.
“These projects will help specialty crop producers with the information and tools they need to successfully grow, process and market safe and high quality products,” Merrigan said during a conference call to reporters Friday morning.
Funded projects address five areas, to improve crops through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; to address threats from pests and diseases; to improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; to develop new innovations and technologies and to improve food safety.
One of the grants, going to Iowa State University, is for $2 million to develop biorenewable and biodegradable containers as a greener alternative to the petroleum-based pots for specialty crops.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is getting over $3.75 million to facilitate rapid, efficient development of new potato varieties with reduced acrylamide content.
And the Agricultural Research Service at Madison is getting $1.3 million to address critical cucumber production issues using the genome sequence of cucumber. Specifically they’ll work on making cucumbers resistant to downy mildew and potyviruses.
The Ohio State University is getting $50,000 to host a workshop addressing fruit and vegetable crop injury from herbicide drift.