nifa potato breeding special research grants

For more than 30 years, the National Potato Council has worked with the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate to secure funding for Potato Research Special Grants that support competitive potato breeding projects across the country. In FY2017, NPC successfully encouraged Congress to increase the funding level to $2.25 million, its highest level in history and a 12.5 percent increase over FY2016.

Since the Potato Research Special Grants’ inception in 1983, the potato industry has provided matching funds for these competitive potato breeding research projects and partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) on them.

Each of these peer-reviewed research projects address actual challenges impacting potato production, utilize the expertise of USDA scientists and independent plant breeders, and deliver measurable improvements in the efficiency and quality of potato production. Growers, grower organizations in individual states and land grant universities provide more than a two-to-one match to funding provided by NIFA

For FY2018, Congress provided $2.5 million for the program. This is the highest level in history and a 60% increase over the past decade. For the FY2019 process, the House included $2.5 million and the Senate included $2.75 million for the NIFA potato breeding research program in their respective committee bills. In contrast, the administration’s FY2019 budget recommended eliminating funding for this program along with all of USDA’s other Special Research Grants.

ARS potato research

Earlier this year, the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) that administers the ARS Potato Collaborative Research Program funds issued the FY2018 request for research proposals and announced a schedule for the NPC Time Zone Committee to review the proposals. That review was conducted in April and the funds have been distributed. ARS funding for the potato research projects under this program is approximately $1.12 million.

In the interest of ensuring that this valuable program continue to be administered in an efficient way into the future, for the FY2019 funding cycle NPC is requesting that the following Appropriations Committee report language recognizing the value of the ARS Potato Collaborative Research Program be included in any final spending agreement:

“The committee encourages ARS to continue to cooperate with the potato industry in conducting competitive research that responds directly to priorities identified and verified by the potato industry and engages both ARS, university and industry researchers in the research effort.”

Updated July 2018