Last month, NGWI leadership met with top USDA Research representatives to continue to help chart the course for short and long-term research for the U.S. grape and grape products industry. Organized by Dr. Sally Schneider, a National Program Leader at the Agricultural Research Service, the meeting brought together an unprecedented array of USDA and grape industry leaders in Beltsville, Maryland.
Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under-Secretary, Research, Education & Economics complimented the grape industry for its vision in bringing together a national Board with representation of all grape sectors. She updated the Board on Farm Bill discussions and the President's budget request. Dr. Bartuska indicated that that existing Congressionally- mandated research programs cover intramural and competitive funding, but perhaps there is a need for a "merit based" targeted investment in agricultural research.
Also addressing the group was Dr. Ed Knipling, the Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, who noted that ARS has consistently worked collaboratively with NGWI, both to help craft its approach to grape research priorities, as well as partners in seeking additional public and private sources of funding for ARS scientists. Dr. Sally Schneider highlighted a key NGWI project which received funding from SCRI and features ARS researchers: Sustainable Vineyard Water Management Practices. The project is developing practical information on optimizing water use in vineyards. However, it is also diving deep into the cellular structures of grape vines. This information, developed by Dr. Andrew McElrone using equipment at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, may ultimately provide clues to address other grape research issues, including trunk diseases.
In addition, Dr. Knipling invited NGWI to provide comments on three programs currently under an ARS five year program review. These three programs cover Genetics & Genomics, Plant Production, (both under review in 2012) and Climate Change (which will be reviewed in 2013.)
Dr. Deborah Sheely, Assistant Director of the National Institute of Food & Agriculture pointed out that grapes have been a significant recipient of funding under the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The projects awarded for the 2012 cycle are expected to be determined soon. She also invited NGWI to work more closely with her office; in particular with three national program leaders in plant production, plant protection, and agricultural systems (engineering).
USDA/ARS Leaders, National Program Leaders, and representatives from the Office of Technology Transfer made presentations which may be found on the NGWI website, www.ngwi.org.
Dr. Charlie Walthall, Climate Change
Dr. John Finley, Human Nutrition National Program
Dr. Deb Fravel, Plant Health National Program
Dr. Jack Okamuro, Biotechnology and the grape industry
Jim Poulos and Jack Okamuro, CRADAs
June Blalock and Marion Ravelonandro, Patents and License