Apr 24, 2020
Improving lettuce cultivars against bacterial leaf spot part of new grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on April 24 announced $9.5 million awarded to 11 collaborative, multi-state projects to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops. The funding is made possible through the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP), reauthorized by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill).

SCMP strengthens food safety; seeks new ways to address plant pests, disease and other crop-specific issues; and increases marketing opportunities for specialty crops – fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and dried fruits to horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Funds are awarded competitively to state departments of agriculture and entities in nonparticipating states within any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Projects funded through SCMP involve at least two partners located in different states.  Examples of this year’s projects include:

  • The Arizona Department of Agriculture’s collaboration with University of Arizona and University of California Cooperative Extension to advance commercial mushroom production by increasing the use of local agricultural/industrial wastes as production substrates and increasing nutritional value of resulting mushrooms grown on modified substrates and environmental conditions.
  • The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s collaboration with the University of California, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, USDA Agricultural Research Service, University of Minnesota and the Organic Center to evaluate the food safety impacts of sheep grazing cover crops, compared to tilled termination of cover crops and winter fallow, before spinach and cucumber.
  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ collaboration with the University of Florida, the Pennsylvania State University, and the USDA-ARS to study disease resistance and diversity to improve lettuce cultivars against bacterial leaf spot (BLS) through breeding, genetics, and study of the BLS-lettuce interaction.

A full list of grant recipients and their project descriptions is available on the SCMP Awarded Grants page of the Agricultural Marketing Service website.  To learn more about AMS grant funding to enhance and strengthen agricultural systems, visit Agricultural Marketing Service: Grants.

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