October 03, 2014

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce More Than $5.6 Million In Federal U.S. Department Of Agriculture Funding For Specialty Crops Across New York State

New York State Department of Agriculture to Receive More Than $1.4 Million in Federal Funds Through USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced $5,647,879.46 in federal funding to support New York State’s specialty crop producers and specialty crop research initiatives. These funds were allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) as well as its National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program and were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, AMS will be administering the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funding, which will provide the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets with $1,417,712.46 in funds to help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and programs to increase demand. In addition, NIFA will be administering the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) funding, which will provide Cornell University $4,230,167 in funds aimed at supporting the specialty crop sector by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops.

“New York produces a wide range of specialty crops, from fruits and vegetables, to maple syrup and Christmas trees. All of these New York specialty crops rank highly nationwide in terms of both production and economic value, and I am proud to announce that this federal USDA funding will help bolster the specialty crop industry by supporting research and development as well as programs that aim to increase demand and distribute tools to better help farmers,” said Senator Schumer. “Ensuring that agriculture is able to flourish and that the unique needs of New York agriculture are considered in federal programs has always been a top priority of mine. That is why I have always fought to secure funding for these kinds of valuable programs. It is also one of the major reasons why I proudly voted to pass this year’s 2014 Farm Bill, which contained a number of provisions beneficial to Upstate farmers, particularly those farmers of specialty crops.”

“New York’s farmers, producers, and scientists are all going to benefit tremendously from these USDA grants,” said Senator Gillibrand, the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “We have cutting edge agricultural research happening at Cornell, our farmers across the state put in incredible work each year, and our diverse array of crops makes its way to homes and businesses across the country and around the world. This is exciting news for the state, and I am thrilled that the USDA recognized that New York agriculture will continue to play a key role in the nation’s economy for many years to come.”

“The success of New York State’s agricultural industries relies on our ability to robustly grow and market safe, nutritious and wholesome specialty crops,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “These resources for specialty crops research will allow our scientists and our partners in the NYS Department of Agriculture to delight consumers while further enhancing economic returns for our producers across a range of products including onions, apples, wine grapes, potatoes, tomatoes and more.”

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will utilize its $1,417,712.46 in SCBGP funds to support 15 specialty crop programs from around the state. New York State will be partnering with Cornell University, Cornell University’s NYS Agriculture Experiment Station, the New York State Apple Association, Rensselaer County, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and the New York State Pest Management Program to make all of these work on projects surrounding food safety, marketing and promotion, and research and grower education.

Cornell University, specifically, will utilize $2,627,860 separate SCRI funds to optimize viticulture practices, genomic characterization, cultivar evaluation, enological characterization, wine production, marketing strategies, agri-tourism, product familiarity and preference. Ultimately, this research seeks to eliminate the production and marketing constraints that currently hinder the profitability and sustainability of emerging cold climate grape and wine industries in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Cornell will also be using $1,602,307 of its SCRI funds to research ways to reduce the impact of tuber necrotic viruses in potatoes by working with all sectors of the potato industry to develop and implement new practices leading to a healthier potato crop and higher farm income.

A full list of the 15 projects that will be supported by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets appears below:

-          Bacterial Rots of Onions: Etiology and Control – $99,996 for New York to partner with Cornell University to reduce onion producers growing losses due to bacterial decay.

-          Breed Tomatoes with Improved Fruit as well as Late/Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot Resistances – $99,997 for New York to partner with Cornell University to control late blight, early blight, and Septoria leaf spot on New York tomatoes

-          Enhancing the Competitiveness of New York's Onion Industry with an IPM Program for Thrips – $100,000 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to develop and implement an environmentally and economically sound strategy for managing thrips, a major pest to New York State onions.

-          Using Under-Vine Cover Crops to Reduce Management Costs in Hybrid Winegrapes – $37,358 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to reduce winegrape management costs.

-          Searching for the Oak Wilt Pathogen, Ceratocystis Fagacearum, in New York State – $80,945 for New York to partner with Cornell University

-          Biology and Economic Impact of Red Blotch Disease in New York Vineyards – $99,932 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to increase vineyard profitability, reduce production uncertainties, and enhance the competitiveness of the New York grape and wine industry.

-          Addressing Diseases That Threaten the Developing New York Hop Industry – $99,350 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to establish effective programs to protect hops from the threats posed by powdery and downy mildews.

-          Sour Rot: Defining and Managing a Disease Threatening the Profitability of New York State Vineyards – $99,289 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to mitigate sour rot in vineyards.

-          Organic Seed Treatments for Sweet Corn for Enhanced Stand Establishment – $98,479 for New York to partner with Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station to reduce production costs and provide consistent plant stands by developing effective vermicompost seed treatments.

-          New York City Applelooza – $75,000 for New York to partner with the New York Apple Association to increase awareness of and the competiveness of New York apples and apple products.

-          Promoting Specialty Crops in the Capital Region – $92,308 for New York to partner with Rensselaer County to increase the number of New York‘s Capital Region specialty crop producers and their sales.

-          Let's Eat New York! A Farm-School-Grocery Partnership – $50,113 for New York to partner with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Broome County to increase sales of New York State specialty crops produce in the Broome-Tioga BOCES institutional food service lunch program.

-          Providing New York‘s Organic and Transitioning Producer‘s with the Pest Management Recommendations for Specialty Crops – $47,973 for New York to partner with the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program to increase producer knowledge of the most up-to-date, legally allowed IPM protocols for certified organic producers of specialty crops.

-          Expanding First Time GAP Audits and Preparing Producers for Food Safety Regulations – $216,816.63 for the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets to promote the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit as the best way to prepare for new regulatory programs and standards to be implemented under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

-          Administration – $64,970.22 for the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets to ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations by performing pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding.

Together, these investments were made possible by the passage of the The Fiscal Year 2014 Farm Bill and represent USDA's commitment to strengthening the specialty crop industry. The USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) and Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) aim to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.