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CSREES Awards More Than $4.7 Million for Tomato and Potato Specialty Crops Genetic Research

News Release

Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2007 - USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) today announced more than $4.7 million in grants to 13 universities and research laboratories for tomato and potato specialty crops genetic research that may lead to improved fruit quality, yield, stress tolerance and disease resistance.

"Specialty crops are a major contributor to U.S. agriculture and are valued at $53 billion in sales annually," said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "New knowledge is needed to develop plants with enhanced economic value, which will ultimately allow the specialty crop industry to remain competitive in the global environment and contribute to the U.S. economy."

The goal of the research program is to increase fundamental knowledge of the structure, function and organization of plant genomes to improve agricultural efficiency and sustainability; effectively integrate modern molecular breeding technologies and classical breeding practice for U.S. crop improvement; and improve U.S. varieties for agricultural growers and producers.

The President's 2007 Farm Bill proposal calls for a $100 million investment in specialty crop research to address the critical needs of the industry. These grants support the goal of conducting fundamental work in plant breeding, genetics and genomics to improve crop characteristics, such as product appearance, environmental responses and tolerances, nutrient management, pest and disease management, as well as safety, quality, yield, taste and shelf life.

Total Fiscal Year 2007 grants of $125,000 to $399,500 were awarded to:

  • Cornell University, $399,000
  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, $398,000
  • Michigan State University, $398,500
  • Ohio State University, $125,000
  • University of California-Davis, $399,500
  • University of California-Davis, $396,500
  • University of California-Riverside, $394,500
  • University of Florida, $399,000
  • University of Minnesota, $386,500
  • University of Nebraska, $301,000
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute, $399,500
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Vegetable Crops Research Unit, University of Wisconsin, $399,500
  • USDA-ARS Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Cornell University, $399,500

The awards are funded through the CSREES National Research Initiative Plant Genome Program. CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.