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Geneva set to become ‘epicenter of grape research

Sen. Chuck Schumer announced on Tuesday $68.9 million in funding to build a new laboratory for the federal Grape Genetic Research Unit at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva.

Reposted from the Finger Lakes Times

GENEVA — In April of 2018, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said the federal Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva sorely needed an upgrade, and he urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help with that.

They apparently listened, to the tune of $68.9 million.

On Tuesday, Schumer announced that money has been allocated for the construction of a new laboratory for the Grape Genetics Research Unit on the Cornell AgriTech campus in Geneva. The money comes from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Building and Facilities budget.

He said the USDA performed a feasibility study on building a new lab back in 2003, when the unit was housed in an outdated and cramped facility on the Cornell AgriTech campus.

However, even after moving into new leased space at Cornell AgriTech last year, he said the unit was still in need of a “dedicated facility with sufficient space to incorporate new sensor technology and the enhanced computing capacity necessary to stay at the leading edge of crop research to support grape growers upstate and nationwide.”

Gan-Yuan Zhong, research leader for the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit, said the “new facility will provide much needed infrastructure for the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit to pursue our world-class research that addresses the U.S. grape industry’s need to maintain its competitive edge. It will accelerate the genetic improvement of grapevines and allow more opportunities for on-site collaborative work connecting cutting-edge genetic research to grow the sustainability and the competitiveness of the U.S. grape industry.”

The funding announcement also was greeted with elation from Cornell officials, including Jan Nyrop, director of Cornell AgriTech and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

“Thanks to support from Sen. Schumer, the new USDA grape research facility at Cornell AgriTech will set the stage for our campus to become the epicenter of grape research, not only in New York state, but the world,” he said. “New technologies and collaboration between our researchers at the facility will increase our capacity to develop higher quality, disease resistant grape varieties.”

Added Kathryn Boor, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: “Our New York wine and grape industries are critical to our state’s economy. The new, state-of-the-art USDA-ARS research facility will support important breakthroughs arising from research collaborations among the USDA scientists, Cornell scientists and others to benefit these vital industries.”

Sam Filler, executive director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, said the new funding “will ensure that New York remains on the cutting edge for grape research and provide grape growers with viticulture practices appropriate for our climate.”

Schumer said the Grape Genetics Research Unit on the Cornell AgriTech campus, is one of the USDA Agriculture Research Service’s “most productive, collaborative and innovative research programs.”

He said collaboration between federal scientists and Cornell faculty, researchers and extension associates has helped spur “exponential growth in the grape and wine industry in New York State and across the country.”

Cornell University President Martha Pollack thanked Schumer “for his persistence over many years to see this lab built. He championed this project from the start, always looked for ways around obstacles and never missed an opportunity to advocate strongly for its completion.”

Read the Article on the Finger Lakes Times website

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