WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) announced that her fix to help the Washington state agriculture community access critical research grants has been signed into law and implemented by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Without this fix to the 2018 Farm Bill, Washington growers would have missed out on upcoming grant opportunities.

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) funds research that supports many of the more than 300 crops in the state. Past funding for Washington has included projects to combat fungicide resistance in wine grapes, precision irrigation for fruit growers, and pest prevention in onions.

For years, the Secretary of the USDA has had the ability to waive the match requirement within the SCRI for projects deemed to be of significant value to agriculture stakeholders, making the program more accessible. This specific language for specialty crops was inadvertently omitted in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, effectively putting the program out of reach.

“Agriculture is one of the main drivers of our state’s economy and research is vital for farmers and growers to keep up with the changing economy and climate,” said Rep. Schrier. “This issue was brought to my attention earlier this year by the agriculture community in my district. Without a solution, Washington State University and many other institutions who have participated in SCRI would be unable to meet the newly-imposed matching requirements.”

“Dr. Schrier has worked very hard to make sure specialty crop researchers have access to the resources they need,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN-07). “This announcement should provide clarity and certainty to researchers and I’m glad to see her efforts producing results for this year’s grant recipients.”

Rep. Schrier recognized the urgent need to address this before the 2020 grant application period and her early advocacy to include a fix in legislation that passed the House this spring, led to fix being included in the 2020 funding bill.

Schrier continued, “We have unique and exciting projects happening in Washington state that would not have gotten off the ground without this fix. Our farmers and our country depend on this research. I’m very happy that we got this done for Washington farmers.”

Rep. Schrier expects that the 2020 application process will continue as planned since NIFA will be waiving the match requirement for recipients of grants under SCRI.