Grape Agricultural Research


Background


Grape production and protection research comes through a number of channels. Approximately one-third, or $400 million, of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) annual budget goes towards the agency’s crop protection and crop production programs. Grape projects are housed within every subcategory of crop protection and production including Plant Genetic Resources, Quality and Utilization, and Plant Diseases, to name a few. In addition, specific projects contained under food safety, human nutrition, water use and watershed management programs focus on grape production and supply chain.

The 2014 Farm Bill contains a robust set of programs and funding streams that capture grape priorities. Title VII, or the Research Title, of the Farm Bill includes the programmatic funds for the land-grant universities to help facilitate agricultural research, education, and extension. Title VII includes funding for competitive grants through USDA’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA), specifically the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) with over $300 million in funds, which are open to all of agriculture.

However, when it comes to competitive grants, another program first implemented in the 2008 Farm Bill and improved on in the 2014 Farm Bill is specifically designed to address the opportunities and challenges of the specialty crop industry. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) also in Title VII of the Farm Bill is coordinated through USDA-NIFA and includes a robust review process. Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill the proposal review process for SCRI includes both a relevancy review with industry participants a merit review with academic and industry sciences. The purpose of the program is to fund research that delivers needed solutions to specialty crop industry. Research on grape production and crop protection has regularly supported through SCRI including nearly $2.4 million for precision vineyard management in 2015.

Another program from the Farm Bill, contained in Title X or the horticulture title, is the Pest Disease Management, Mitigation, and Disaster Prevention Program. Managed through USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) the program funds approximately $60 million a year in funds to respond and plan for pest and disease emergencies. While many of the projects are more focused on surveillance, public education, and pest identification others help to create new rapid diagnostic tools and develop pest mitigation strategies. Projects focused on glassy-winged sharpshooter, brown marmorated stink bug, and European grapevine moth have all been funded through this program in recent years.