09.30.19

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO FIX MATCHING REQUIREMENT IN SPECIALTY CROP RESEARCH PROGRAM THAT JEOPARDIZED MILLIONS IN FED FUNDING FOR CORNELL UNIVERSITY & UPSTATE AG. AS PART OF RECENTLY-PASSED FEDERAL BUDGET EXTENSION

USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Provides Millions In Fed Funding To Ag Institutions, Like Cornell University, To Study Ways To Improve Upstate Crops 

A Matching Requirement For SCRI Threatened Millions For NYS; Schumer Today Announces Successful Fix To Program As Part Of Federal Budget Extension

Schumer: Vital Fix To SCRI Gives Upstate Specialty Crop Industry The Nutrients To Keep Growing

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his behind the scenes advocacy, the recently-passed federal budget extension includes a policy fix to an issue in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) that threatened to block Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as other institutions, from millions of dollars needed to conduct research on specialty crops like grapes, fruit, apples and more on how to increase crop yields, boost resiliency and adjust to other 21st century challenges. A requirement for SCRI limited access to grant funding for researchers and other grant applicants who had to provide an equal amount of matching funds to their own projects, which is often not possible for researchers working with constrained budgets. To address this issue that threatened Upstate New York’s access to this critical funding, Schumer along with the Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, successfully fought for a provision in the budget extension to eliminate this matching requirement, to ensure that the state’s specialty crop industry continues to have the support it needs to thrive and boost New York’s agricultural economy.

“New York’s specialty crop industry, from the best apples in the country, to the highest-quality grapes you’ll find—is a fundamental driver of the Upstate agricultural economy, maintaining and creating thousands of good-paying jobs from the Hudson Valley to Rochester and everywhere in between. However, for this industry to continue being grown and cultivated, it depends on critical USDA research funding being sent to first-rate institutions like Cornell,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why, in the recently-passed budget extension, I fought relentlessly to pass a provision to eliminate a matching requirement for the vital Specialty Crop Research Initiative, that threatened these organizations’ access to millions of dollars of necessary funding. I’ll always strive to support and improve federal programs that help our specialty crop producers adjust to the 21st century agricultural climate.”

"Senator Schumer’s work to eliminate the matching funds requirement for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is appreciated by the growers of New York and by our faculty," said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  "Specialty crops – the fruits and vegetables so important for healthy diets for Americans – are also important contributors to the economic vitality of New York State agriculture.  Eliminating the need for matching funds will greatly enhance opportunities for our faculty to receive funding for research on crops important to the future of farming in our state."

The USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) was created in order to improve the quality and efficiency of farms through innovative research. Eligible projects must address research subjects like plant genetics to improve crops characteristics, invasive species, new technology, food safety hazards in production and more. Over the past 5 years, roughly $30 million in SCRI grant funding has been awarded to Cornell University for specialty crop-oriented projects.

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