02.26.19

FOLLOWING HIS TIRELESS ADVOCACY, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES OVER $68 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO BUILD A NEW GRAPE GENETICS RESEARCH LAB IN GENEVA; SAYS NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITY WILL PROVIDE CRITICAL RESEARCH FOR UPSTATE GRAPE GROWERS TO SUPPORT CONTINUED HEALTH AND GROWTH OF GRAPE INDUSTRY NATIONWIDE

The Agriculture Research Service Grape Genetics Research Unit In Geneva Provides Research For Grape Farmers On How To Enhance Their Products; Scientists Are Working In Space Leased From Cornell University That Leaves No Room For Growth  

Schumer Today Announces $68.9 Million From The Recent Spending Package To Build A Federal Grape Genetics Research Lab

Schumer: New Grape Genetics Lab Will Help Drive Incredible Growth In The Upstate Grape Industry

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, $68.9 million was included in the recently-passed minibus appropriations package to build a new laboratory for the federal Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva, NY. The funding will come from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Building and Facilities budget.  Schumer explained that the Grape Genetics Research Unit provides critical information to New York grape growers through a variety of different research programs and studies, including cold tolerance and improved resistance to crop-killing disease. New York State has over 1,600 family vineyards and almost 40,000 acres of cropland in grapes, valued at $52 million, which produce $4.8 billion in annual economic benefits for the state. Schumer said that the funding will be used to build a new facility for the ARS scientists, who are currently working in constrained space leased from Cornell University.

“The grape industry drives incredible growth in New York State, providing $4.8 billion in economic benefits and supporting thousands of good-paying jobs in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region and across Upstate New York. The industry has built its success on the outstanding research done at the Grape Genetics Research Unit. However, the first-rate researchers at this lab have been left on the vine for many years. USDA completed a feasibility study to build a new lab back in 2003, when the Unit was housed in an outdated and cramped facility on the Cornell AgriTech campus. Even after moving to better space at Cornell last year, the Unit still needs a dedicated facility with sufficient space to incorporate new sensor technology and the enhanced computing capacity necessary to stay at the leading edge of crop research to support grape growers Upstate and nationwide,” said Senator Schumer. “Today, I’m thrilled to announce over $68 million in ARS funding to build a world-class facility from top to bottom. The grape industry plays a fundamental role in the Upstate economy, and I’ll always fight for the investment needed to keep it from going sour.”

Schumer said the Grape Genetics Research Unit, co-located on the Cornell AgriTech campus, is one of the ARS’ most productive, collaborative, and innovative research programs. Schumer said the collaboration between federal scientists and Cornell faculty, researchers, and extension associates has helped spur exponential growth in the grape and wine industry in New York State and across the country. Schumer added that with more than 1,630 family vineyards, 400 wineries, and almost 40,000 acres of cropland, the New York grape crop alone is valued at over $52 million and generates $4.8 billion in economic benefits annually for New York State, thus, continued growth and research is critical.

Schumer outlined the number of grape growers per region in Upstate New York, to show how critical the industry is to local economies across the state.

·         In the Capital Region there are 57 growers

·         In Central New York there are 57 growers

·         In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region there are 327 growers

·         In Western New York there are 578 growers

·         In the Southern Tier there are 155 growers

·         In the Hudson Valley there are 84 growers

·         In the North Country there are 63 growers

Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack said, “I am so pleased that USDA is building a laboratory for the ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit on the Cornell AgriTech campus. It has been Cornell’s privilege to lease space to the GGRU for many years, and we are pleased that these world-class scientists will now have a world-class facility of their own. Co-location of the federal lab cements the decades-long research partnership between Cornell and USDA that has helped fuel the explosive growth of the New York wine and grape industries. I especially want to thank Senator Schumer for his persistence over many years to see this lab built. He championed this project from the start, always looked for ways around obstacles, and never missed an opportunity to advocate strongly for its completion.”

“This new Federal Funding will ensure that New York remains on the cutting edge for grape research and provide grape growers with viticulture practices appropriate for our climate,” said Sam Filler, Executive Director, New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

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