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Cornell University’s Lake Erie Cornell Cooperative Extension Program Has Applied For Approximately $5 Million In Fed USDA Funds – Grant Funding Would Enable Dedicated Researchers At The Laboratory To Research New And Innovative Methods For Growing WNY’s Grape & Wine Industries 

Proposal Would Allow Project Team To Develop New Technologies That Could Increase Production – Schumer Says Climate Change Means Top Researchers, Like Those At Cornell Lab, Must Innovate Agricultural Technologies To Revolutionize Industries & Meet 21st Century Demands

Schumer: Let Cornell’s Top-Notch Research Program Squeeze Fresh Ideas From Grape Research & Bring Them To Market

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched his push to secure major federal funds for Cornell University’s Erie Cornell Cooperative Extension Program. Schumer explained that the dedicated researchers at the extension laboratory are seeking approximately $5 million in federal funds through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Special Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant program to develop new and innovative technologies that could revolutionize the grape and wine industries, as well increase production across New York. Schumer said that with climate change complicating agricultural endeavors across the nation and world, it is vital the USDA allow the top-notch researchers at Cornell to develop new technologies that would that would meet 21st century demands and advance the field of grape growing.

Schumer said that with this vital funding, the dedicated researchers at Cornell University’s Erie Cornell Cooperative Extension laboratory will be able to further initiate research that will be beneficial to the grape and wine industries that define the Chautauqua County economy, home to the largest Concord grape belt in the nation, as well as the Finger Lakes region.

“The grape industry provides $4.8 billion in economic benefits for New York and supports thousands of jobs, not to mention the livelihood of many family-owned farms and vineyards. That is exactly why the federal government should be doing everything possible to help top-notch researchers like those at Cornell to develop the innovative technologies that will be needed to increase production and revolutionize the industry,” said Senator Schumer. “I am urging the USDA to approve this funding so that grape producers will be better poised to face the 21st Century challenges of climate change and market demand so they can continue to thrive.”

Schumer said a $750,000 pilot study aimed at supporting and developing new technologies is already underway nationwide, and this research project will partner with prestigious universities across the country to further develop new technology and production methods for the grape growing industry. Additionally, if granted the SCRI funds, Cornell University’s precision viticulture program would be significantly matched through non-federal funds. The combined funding would give scientists and grape-growing professionals the financial means to continue this critical, potentially industry-changing research program. Schumer explained that each proposal will be reviewed by the USDA and could receive a partial or full dollar amount award for each project, including Cornell’s request for approximately $5 million.

The USDA Special 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. New York has benefitted from approximately $10 million in funding to support research programs on viticulture, specialty crop innovation, and maintaining the health of New York's potato farms. 

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the USDA appears below.

Dear Secretary Vilsack, 

I am very pleased to write in support of Cornell University’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant proposal.  This proposal, entitled “Precision Vineyard Management: Collecting and Interpreting Spatial Data for Variable Vineyard Management to Improve Production Efficiency and Product Quality,” is a testament to the hard work and dedication of many individuals at the Lake Erie Cornell Cooperative Extension. 

This is the latest attempt by Cornell University to secure funding for the SCRI project.  With this vital funding, the dedicated researchers at the extension laboratory will be able to further initiate research that will be beneficial to the wine and juice industry that defines the Coastal Chautauqua economy, the largest Concord grape belt in the nation.  This project is once again the number one priority of the National Grape and Wine Initiative.  This organization is a nationwide, grower-led entity that seeks advancement in the field of grape growing, and the production of all grape related products.

This project, if properly funded, will focus on bring precision agriculture technology to the grape growing industries across the United States.  The nationwide project team, which includes partnerships with other prestigious universities, has been supported by a $750,000 pilot study, and would also continue to receive a significant match on any SCRI funding.  With this financial backing, the scientists and professions at Cornell and the rest of the project team will secure the resources they need to develop new, innovative technologies that could revolutionize the grape industry.  As climate change complicates all agricultural endeavors, it’s vital to our national interest that we continue to support new and expansive ideas that will bring our growing and production technology into the 21st century.

Thank you for your consideration.  


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator