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The American Olive Oil Producers Association (AOOPA) announced that it is the recip­i­ent of a $50,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, one of 19 fed­eral grants totalling $36.5 mil­lion that will go to grow­ers of fruits, veg­eta­bles, tree nuts, and flori­cul­ture for research to sup­port the country’s spe­cialty crop farm­ers.

The fund­ing is part of the Farm Bill, adopted in 2014 by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).

The SCRI was devised to develop and dis­sem­i­nate science-​based tools that address the unique issues faced by farm­ers who grow lesser-​known crops. According to a state­ment released by the agency, the grants are designed to ensure crop diver­sity and food safety in farms of all sizes, whether con­ven­tional or organic.

“America’s spe­cialty crop farm­ers face many chal­lenges rang­ing from a chang­ing cli­mate to increas­ing pro­duc­tion costs,” noted Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“Investing in cut­ting edge research helps uncover solu­tions to keep oper­a­tions viable. The uni­ver­si­ties, state depart­ments of agri­cul­ture and trade asso­ci­a­tions that part­ner with USDA address chal­lenges at the national and local lev­els to help sus­tain all parts of America’s food and agri­cul­ture sys­tem.”

From the study of plant genet­ics and the improve­ment of crop char­ac­ter­is­tics to iden­ti­fy­ing pests and dis­eases and improv­ing pro­duc­tion and prof­itabil­ity, the grants seek to help farm­ers through inno­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

A state­ment by AOOPA said the grant will allow it to “bring together key indus­try stake­hold­ers and lead­ing olive oil researchers from across the coun­try to iden­tify and pri­or­i­tize the research needs of the American olive oil indus­try; deter­mine the most effec­tive ways to gather and share cur­rent research with the spe­cialty crop sec­tor, state asso­ci­a­tions, exten­sion pro­fes­sion­als, and grow­ers; and develop a plan for ongo­ing coop­er­a­tive efforts and future SCRI grants.”

Olive experts from the University of California, Davis, Texas A&M University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Florida are expected to par­tic­i­pate in the project.



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