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Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

Integrating research and extension work and encouraging systems work on specialty crops

Program Basics
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) seeks to solve critical United States specialty crop issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research and extension activities that take systems-based, trans-disciplinary approaches. Specialty crops are defined in law as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

The intent of the SCRI is to solve the needs of the various specialty crop industries through the promotion of collaboration, open communication, the exchange of information and the development of resources that accelerate application of scientific discovery and technology.

SCRI will give priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary. Note: SCRE does not fund start-up businesses

SCRI has five legislatively mandated focus areas:

  1. Research in plant breeding, genetics, and genomics to improve crop characteristics
  2. Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
  3. Efforts to improve production efficiency, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
  4. New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening; and
  5. Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production and processing of specialty crops, including fresh produce.

In FY 2009, approximately $47,300,000 was available to fund five types of project:

  1. Standard Research and Extension Projects to support targeted problem-solving efforts. Funding period - up to five years, with grants not normally exceeding $2,000,000
  2. Coordinated Agricultural Projects to address specific multiple components of a primary system or multiple components of areas where primary systems overlap. Funding period - three to five years, with grants generally not exceeding $2,000,000 per year
  3. Regional Partnerships for Innovation to form partnerships that provide the local or regional infrastructure needed to fully exploit future technology commercialization and adoption. Funding period - two - three years, with grants not exceeding $2,000,000 per project
  4. eXtension Projects to develop Communities of Practice (COPs) for the eXtension system and to support existing COPs. Funding period - three to five years, with grants normally not exceeding $500,000 per project
  5. Research and Extension Planning Projects to provide assistance to applicants in the development of quality proposals. Funding period - one year, with grants up to $50,000 per project.

Examples of Funded Projects
In 2008, the University of Vermont received $100,000 for a Research and Planning project to identify the critical needs for growers, using a public-private partnership among growers, researchers, extension specialists and educators, biological control suppliers, state agricultural personnel, economists and representatives of other key industry sectors.

In 2008, The Ohio State University received $1,113,214 to investigate social networking and the market and commercialization infrastructure for Midwestern fruit and vegetable crops in local food systems.

Website
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/specialtycropresearchinitiative.cfm

Contact Information
Dr. Thomas Bewick
Phone: (202) 401 - 3356
Fax: (202) 401 - 4888
Email: tbewick@csrees.usda.gov

Last Updated November 3, 2009

Please note: Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities is also available for download in PDF format.

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