The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (N.I.F.A.) 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 (S.C.R.I.), authorized by the 2014 farm bill.

Sonny Ramaswamy, U.S.D.A.
Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the N.I.F.A.

“Specialty crops generally fetch high value for the farmers, but require more intensive farming than conventional crops, such as wheat or corn,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the N.I.F.A. “N.I.F.A. 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 N.I.F.A. has invested more than $400 million through the S.C.R.I. program to date. Its mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension that solve societal challenges.