News Release

NIFA invests $35 million in specialty crop research

Grant and Award Announcement

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 24, 2017 - 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."

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative seeks to invest in long-term solutions that address problems in the overlapping systems of production, distribution and processing, and consumers and markets. This research initiative encourages collaboration, open communication, the exchange of information, and the development of resources that accelerate application of scientific discovery and technology to help U.S. producers be more competitive in a global market.

The new recipients of fiscal year 2017 grants are:

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, $2,447,432

    University of California, Santa Cruz, California, $2,513,040

    University of California, Davis, California, $4,494,490

    Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, $2,538,539

    University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, $45,470

    Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $3,208,657

    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $5,485,292

    Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $6,550,976

    Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $4,409,547

    Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $3,279,861

    Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $46,550

    University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $46,550

These projects include a Texas A&M University effort to enhance the sustainability and profitability of melon production in the United States, emphasizing consumer preferences and industry-driven needs. The University of Arkansas is leading a multi-state and multi-agency collaboration to meet growing consumer demand for spinach by developing new, disease-resistant cultivars and conducting outreach to industry stakeholders.

NIFA has invested more than $400 million through the SCRI program to date. Among past projects, a University of Maryland project developed a wireless irrigation system to save water, increase efficiency, and reduce the environmental impacts of ornamental plant production practices. Michigan State University led a multi-year, public-private collaboration to develop region- and crop-specific pollination management approaches using both wild and managed native bees. The Integrated Crop Pollination project has resulted in resources for growers, research publications, and has helped growers increase yield with lower production costs.


More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

NIFA's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension that solve societal challenges. NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA's impact on agricultural sciences, visit, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.