Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced legislation to restore waiver authority for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative matching requirement and to include a corresponding waiver authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to access the Specialty Crop Matching Funds requirement Refrain from research programs.
“The Specialty Crop Research Initiative is critical in enabling central Washington farmers to provide the world with cherries, apples, vines, hops and many other specialty crops.” said Rep. Newhouse. “Universities and departments representing agriculture in Washington strive to conduct world-class specialty crop research that gives our farmers a competitive advantage, but the omitted provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill have disadvantaged SCRI recipients. I am proud to work as a member of the Grants Committee to include this language to give these institutions security as they compete for federal grants and continue their groundbreaking research at facilities throughout Washington and the United States.”
“This simple but important solution will help us better serve Washington’s agribusiness industry and 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 in ensuring that land granting institutions like ours can support the specialty crops industry in Washington state. As a farmer and WSU graduate, Rep. Newhouse understands the impact our research is having in supporting more than 300 different crops across the state.”
“Securing funding for special crops research like the incredible work being done at Washington State University has long been a priority for me.” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). “Eastern Washington research is helping to inform regional and national practices related to crop use, pest threats, harvesting technologies and food safety issues. My hope is that this legislation will help Washington’s agribusiness remain competitive in the global marketplace and ensure our farmers have the resources they need to continue to put food on kitchen tables across the country.”
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is a major crop pest and disease prevention research program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) targeting fruits and vegetables. SCRI has historically been one of the most subscribed to USDA research programs. The Farm Bill of 2018 inadvertently omitted the language, allowing the Secretary of the USDA to waive the match requirement within SCRI for projects deemed to be of significant value to farming stakeholders. This waiver language has been retained for other research programs, making SCRI the only program where the secretary does not have this waiver authority. The Secretariat’s lack of discretion to forego funding put many projects at risk and created confusion for stakeholders.
This legislation restores the waiver for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative matching requirement.