U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $299,692 in new federal funding for Cornell University. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA grants support research and programs that help specialty crop growers achieve long-term viability, high yield, and labor efficient production of locally grown grains, fruits, and vegetables. Cornell University will use the funding to continue its cutting edge research of white mold management in snap beans which will help farmers in Upstate New York and beyond.
“Cornell is a national leader when it comes to cutting-edge agricultural research,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding will allow Cornell to continue its critical research on white mold management to benefit American farmers. As we all know, agriculture is a vital part of New York’s economy, which is why I am committed to securing resources that ensure universities like Cornell have the tools they need to continue to be on the forefront of agricultural research and innovation.”
“Cornell University is one of the most innovative institutions in the country and an ideal place for this significant federal investment, which will give Cornell the tools to continue its groundbreaking advanced research to strengthen the nation’s food and agricultural industries.” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. “I will continue to support more federal funding for scientific research at our colleges and universities, so that more young people can be inspired to do research, test their ideas, and help make our communities better places to live.”
Sarah Pethybridge, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “White mold is among the most devastating and recalcitrant plant diseases worldwide and results in major losses to numerous vegetable and field crops. Our project aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to improve detection of the right time to control white mold in order to reduce crop loss. This project offers a unique opportunity to realize the benefits of precision agriculture by providing robust and reliable support to decision-making that influences both profitability and productivity.”
Schumer and Gillibrand pushed for the creation of NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative in the 2014 Farm Bill. New York’s farmers produce a wide range of specialty crops including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, nursery crops, herbs and spices, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and others that rank highly nationwide, in terms of both production and economic value. These NFIA funds are essential for New York’s thriving farming industry.
The USDA NIFA program aims to strengthen local food systems and support farmers growing fruits, vegetables, and nursery crops through research, agricultural extension activities, and initiatives to increase demand and address the needs of America’s specialty crop industry.