Due to language missing from the 2018 Farm Bill, the Secretary of Agriculture is not permitted to waive the match requirement within the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a key USDA plant pest and disease prevention research program targeting fruits and vegetables.  But legislation introduced last week looks to change that.


The proposal put forward in the House of Representatives by Washington’s Dan Newhouse, Kim Schrier, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers looks to establish appropriate waiver language authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to waive the matching funds requirements for specialty crop research programs.  Lawmakers note the Specialty Crop Research Initiative has historically been one of the most subscribed of all of USDA research programs.  They add the absence of Secretarial discretion to waive matching funds placed many projects in jeopardy and created confusion for stakeholders.


“The Specialty Crop Research Initiative is critical in enabling Central Washington farmers to supply the world with cherries, apples, wine, hops and many other specialty crops,” Newhouse said. “Universities and commodity groups representing Washington agriculture are eager to pursue world-class specialty crop research that provides our farmers with a competitive edge, but provisions left out of the 2018 Farm Bill left SCRI recipients at a disadvantage. I am proud to work as a Member of the Appropriations Committee to include this language to give certainty to these institutions as they compete for federal grant funding and continue their groundbreaking research at facilities throughout Washington and the United States.” 

“This simple but important solution will help us better serve the agricultural industry in Washington and help support one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world,” said Wendy Powers, Dean of the College of Agricultural Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. “WSU is grateful for Congressman Newhouse’s continued leadership ensuring land grant institutions like ours can support the specialty crop industry in the State of Washington. As a farmer and a WSU alumnus, Rep. Newhouse understands the impact our research has in supporting more than 300 different crops across the state.”


“Securing funding for specialty crop research like the incredible work being done at Washington State University has long been a priority for me,” McMorris Rodgers added. “Research coming out of Eastern Washington helps inform regional and national practices on crop inputs, pest threats, harvesting technologies, and food safety issues.  My hope is this legislation will help Washington’s agriculture industry stay competitive in the global marketplace and ensure our farmers have the resources they need to keep putting food on kitchen tables across the country.”


Click Here to read the proposed legislation.


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