Sept. 26, 2013

10 Cornell specialty crops projects get USDA funding

Ten of the 11 research projects announced by N.Y. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Sept. 25, supported by more than $900,000 in federal funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will go to Cornell projects. They range from improving the resiliency of New York’s crops to expanding the reach of New York state’s agricultural sector. This funding includes $154,000 to support the state’s wine and grape industry.

“Investing in research and development is crucial to growing our state’s agricultural sector and economy,” Cuomo said. “This funding will allow some of New York’s top researchers to identify new ways to improve areas like crop production and resiliency, ultimately helping to increase the market competitiveness of farmers across the state. I congratulate these award recipients and look forward to their valuable contributions to New York agriculture.”

Funding is provided through the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, which authorizes the USDA to provide state assistance for specialty crop competitiveness programs. This funding complements the governor’s efforts to support and grow the state’s agricultural and culinary industries through the Taste NY initiative. Taste NY is designed to showcase the state’s wide variety of world-class food, beer, wine and spirits. New York-grown and produced items have been highlighted at special events, tourism destinations, transit hubs and stores throughout the state.

The 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Cornell awards are to the:

  • Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics: $99,806 to increase the profitability of the New York onion industry via introduction of novel mild hybrids adapted to New York state;
  • Department of Horticulture: $99,594 to help improve nursery native tree production to increase profitability; $74,331 to evaluate grape and wine production practices in support of the emerging cold hardy “northern grapes” industry in New York;
  • Department of Entomology: $94,553 to help ensure the viability of the New York allium crop industry (onions, leeks, garlic and chives) by meeting the research and outreach needs for controlling leek moth; $56,055 to help develop an insect, disease and weed management program for New York organic apples;
  • Department of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology: $88,124 to expand identification, sampling and testing of Phytophthora diseases, which threaten nursery crops and home landscapes; $79,785 to develop methods to eliminate the crown gall pathogen from grapevine propagation material to strengthen New York’s viticulture and nursery industry; $47,260 to enhance potato seed production for New York state farmers by establishing a hydroponic production system;
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County: $93,460 to increase the sales of specialty crops in northern New York through direct connections with consumers and new wholesale markets; and
  • CCE of Suffolk County: $65,168 to help implement an areawide insect mating disruption participatory program in Long Island tree fruit orchards.

In addition, the American Farmland Trust, New York State Office (Saratoga Springs) received $99,427 to will help expand market competitiveness for specialty crop producers at SUNY colleges.