- Author: Kathleen P Nolan
USDA NIFA requests pre-applications for theSpecialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).
The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Applicants are strongly encouraged to propose a unique approach to solving problems facing the specialty crop industry using a systems approach. Specialty crops are defined in law as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
Projects must address at least one of five focus areas:
- Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
- Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
- Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
- New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening
- Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production efficiency, handling and processing of specialty crops.
The SCRI program offers three project types in FY 2020. The three SCRI project type include:
1.) Standard Research and Extension Projects (SREPs) provide funding for up to four years to support targeted problem-solving efforts that would not qualify in scope for support as a Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP). Applications should bring together both research and extension components of the agricultural knowledge system around a problem area or activity. It is anticipated that most funded SREPs for FY2019 will be close to the historical median of$1,846,428 (total project costs).
2.) Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) provide funding for up to four years to address specific multiple components of a primary system or multiple components of areas where primary systems overlap. CAPs will be awarded to consortia or groups of qualified applicants to address multiple components of a primary system, an entire primary system or problems that cut across primary systems, with the expectation that the project will make significant contributions to the sustainability of the system or system component. The historical median for CAPs is $4,438,003 (total project costs).
3.) Research and Extension Planning Projects provide funding for one year to provide assistance to applicants in the development of quality future SREP or CAP proposals. Funds may also be requested to provide assistance to consumer, producer, or industry groups for developing strategic research and extension plans—including goals, objectives, priorities, etc. (strategic planning). The expectation is that developed plans could provide the relevance bases for future SCRI grant applications. Grant planning funds are limited to $50,000 per project.
In FY 2020, applicants will compete for the SCRI program in two stages. Applicants will be required to submit a pre-application via grants.gov. Please reference funding opportunity number USDA-NIFA-SCRI-006810. Pre-applications are due by October 15th.
Industry representatives for each specialty crop sector will decide which pre- applicants should be invited to submit full applications. NIFA will provide details of the full-application process to invitees in a separate RFA.
For more information, please review the full Request for Proposals at the program website: https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/specialty-crop-research-initiative-scri
Kathleen Nolan, Director, ANR Office of Contracts & Grants (OCG)