USDA has awarded more than $28 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. The funded projects address research and extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops, from sustainable production systems for turf grass to mechanical fruit thinning devices for peach and apple. Except for projects that addressed plant breeding, genetics and genomics of specific crops, successful applicants simultaneously addressed needs in more than a single crop.
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to support the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address needs of specific crops and their regions in five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety. Each of the focus areas received at least 10% of the available funds. The majority of the funded projects address two or more focus areas.