Produce Marketing Association Comments on Farm of the Future Grant Program
NEWARK, DE - Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requested stakeholder input related to the establishment of a new Farm of the Future competitive grant program. This was introduced under Section 799 of the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which provided $4 million to NIFA. In respect to this, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) was eager to provide its input.
“PMA welcomes the opportunity to provide USDA NIFA with stakeholder input on the establishment of a new Farm of the Future competitive grant program. We applaud the investment in agriculture and stress the importance of prioritizing specialty crops in the plan,” Chief Science Officer, Dr. Max Teplitski, commented. “PMA is honored to share the data that clearly establishes that fruit, vegetable, and floral industry has a unique place in the fabric of American society and ag economy; nutrition provided by fresh fruits and vegetables is indispensable for supporting public health and ensuring nutrition security.”
According to the release, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill will provide $4 million to NIFA to be used “for a competitive grant to an institution in the land-grant university system to establish a Farm of the Future testbed and demonstration site.”
American horticulture faces unique challenges that can only be addressed by a sustained federal investment into research and development (R&D) and focusing on systems solutions for addressing these problems. Specifically, some topics include:
- Climate-smart agriculture
- Biotech tools and resources
- Sustainable packaging
- Technologies to reduce food waste and food loss
“R&D needs of the specialty crop industry are vast—from developing carbon-smart production practices to breeding for superior taste, from re-imagining sustainable energy to developing home-compostable PLU stickers, from robotics to help meet our labor needs to technologies that combat food loss,” Dr. Teplitski continued. “This R&D investment, on behalf of American and global consumers, cannot be a burden that the industry bears alone, and we welcome the USDA NIFA investment.”
In the U.S., it is estimated that PMA members handle more than 90 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables. PMA also represents the floral sector in mass retail, which accounts for the majority of floral sold in the U.S.
Additionally, PMA’s vision is to bring together the global fresh produce and floral community to grow a healthier world. With these comments, PMA is hoping the review panel includes senior decision-makers from the industry or trade associations that represent the industry. Furthermore, it is imperative that any funded project includes a consultative body/advisory board that consists of industry scientists and decision-makers to ensure that research, extension, and education efforts funded through this project aim to address needs that directly impact the industry and consumers.
For more information and to learn more about PMA’s comments, click here.
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