Grants to USA federal agencies, IHEs, national laboratories, research institutions, organizations, corporations, and individuals to develop and disseminate research tools to address the needs of the specialty crop industry. Applicants must complete required registrations prior to applying.
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (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. 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 philosophy of the SCRI program is: Truly effective, long-term solutions to specialty crop industry challenges can best be achieved by understanding and treating those problems as complex systems of many interacting components. This perspective requires projects that are larger in scope and complexity, and that demand more resources than have traditionally been allocated to individual research and extension projects. In doing so, projects should focus on entire primary systems, including the production system, the processing and distribution system, and the consumer and marketing system, or on areas where two or more primary systems overlap.
Specialty crops are defined in law as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. USDA has developed a more detailed description of specialty crops that is now in use by all USDA agencies. Collectively, these crops face many challenges. The SCRI program seeks to address these challenges by funding systems-based, trans-disciplinary approaches.
It is anticipated that successful applications will:
- Engage stakeholders in collaborative ways to identify those priorities of greatest need.
- Bring together multi-state, multi-institutional teams of biological, physical, and social scientists to develop strategies and actions emphasizing systems-based, trans-disciplinary approaches for meeting the identified priorities.
- Address priorities through research and extension.
- Present plans for documenting the impacts of funded applications that include stakeholder involvement.
- Include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public.
For additional program details and priorities, see: https://www.nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2023-10/FY24-SCRI-Pre-App-RFA-508-P_0.pdf#page=6
- Standard Research and Extension Projects (SREPs): Purpose – To support targeted problem-solving efforts that would not qualify in scope for support as a Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP).
- Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs): Purpose – To address specific multiple components of a primary system or multiple components of areas where primary systems overlap.
- Research and Extension Planning Projects: Purpose – To provide assistance to applicants in the development of quality future SREP or CAP proposals (grant planning). Fundsmay 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.
For additional details on project types, see: https://www.nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2023-10/FY24-SCRI-Pre-App-RFA-508-P_0.pdf#page=10