On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $9.5 million in funding to eleven collaborative, multi-state projects that seek to boost the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) was awarded $850,816 to support research related to improvements in lettuce resistance to Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), funded through the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP).
“As the nation’s second-largest producer of specialty crops with a year-round growing season, Florida is an ideal environment for agricultural research and innovation,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “This funding is particularly important with Florida-grown lettuce facing losses up to 75 percent due to COVID-19. We look forward to working with state and federal partners to eradicate pathogens and diseases that threaten our valued agriculture commodities.”
The full list of grant recipients and projects may be viewed here.
U.S. lettuce production is estimated at nearly $1.9 billion, making lettuce one of the leading vegetable crops in the nation. The funding awarded to FDACS is in partnership with the University of Florida, the Pennsylvania State University, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The research will study disease resistance and diversity to improve lettuce cultivars against BLS through breeding, genetics, and study of the BLS-lettuce interaction.
The USDA Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP) offers grants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by funding collaborative, multi-state projects that address the following regional or national level specialty crop issues: food safety, plant pests and disease, research, crop-specific projects addressing common issues, and marketing and promotion.