Thursday, November 19, 2009 by Kathy Means
From legislation to application: Connecting the dots
The 2008 Farm Bill paid more attention to specialty crops – the bulk of which are fresh produce – than ever before. We rejoiced when it happened, but the real benefits come when those provisions in the legislation become real to our industry. On November 18, USDA took a big step in bringing some of that to reality by awarding more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to solve critical specialty crop agriculture issues, address priorities and solve problems through multifunctional research and extension.
That money will go to projects that develop and disseminate science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops in five focus areas: improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; address pest/disease threats; improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; develop new innovations and technologies; and improve food safety.
Though it will be a while until we see the results of the research, we have to remember that projects like these can bring significant benefits to the industry over time. It’s easy to lose the connection between legislation intended to help our industry and the real-world results down the road. That’s why we push for such laws, because they do pay off in the end.