Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

June 20, 2009

Governor Paterson Announces $925,000 for Two USDA Labs In New York

Recovery Act Funds to Help Ag & Health Center in Ithaca; Grape Genetics Lab in Geneva

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that the Obama Administration has awarded New York State two American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants to upgrade United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research facilities. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack approved the $925,000 to upgrade the Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca and the Plant Genetic Resources Unit and Grape Genetics Research Unit in Geneva.

The grant funding will improve the safety and health aspects of the laboratories, enhance energy efficiency, and reduce the cost of operation and maintenance. These benefits will improve the working environment, resulting in improved productivity, and generate maintenance savings that will be captured and returned to directly support the research program. All of the projects selected are at locations conducting research of the highest priority to USDA. Additionally, the Holley Center in Ithaca includes a pest management unit that works to reduce the use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

“These grants will help improve the State’s ability to support our New York farm families and continue to protect all New Yorkers by ensuring that the food we make is also safe to eat,” said Governor Paterson. “I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Vilsack for acknowledging this critical aspect of our agricultural infrastructure.”

USDA Secretary Vilsack said: “President Obama is committed to ensuring that USDA stays on the cutting edge of research in food safety, nutrition, producing food and preserving the quality of our soil and water. This funding will ensure that our labs can carry out the critical research that enables the U.S. to have the safest, least expensive food supply in the world.”

The Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health will receive $275,000 from USDA. Located at Cornell University in Ithaca, this center houses three USDA research units: the Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit; the Biological Integrated Pest Management Research Unit; and the Plant-Microbe Interaction Research Unit. The Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit has a strong national and international reputation for its work on crop nutritional quality and the bioavailability of essential minerals for humans and plant mineral nutrition. The pest management unit provides innovative pest and disease management methods that reduce the use of synthetic chemical pesticides while providing long-term control. The plant-microbe unit focuses solely on the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000, which causes speck disease on tomatoes and relatives to this bacteria cause disease on virtually every major vegetable crop.

The Plant Genetic Resources Unit and the Grape Genetics Research Unit, both located in Geneva, will receive a combined $650,000 from USDA. The recently established Grape Genetics Research Unit studies the full gamut of grapes grown in the United States, including those grown in California’s semiarid valleys and those that experience cold winters like here in New York. Its sister organization, Plant Genetic Resources Unit, helps preserve and safeguard about 20,000 samples of cold-hardy grapes, apples, tart cherries, and vegetables, and has about one-third of USDA’s grape research acreage planted in its vineyard.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: “We are very pleased to see economic recovery funds come to New York to help upgrade these two important USDA facilities that provide a considerable amount of services and support for New York’s agricultural industry. This is a great use of federal funds that are greatly appreciated here in New York State.”

Congressman Michael Arcuri said: “The work that will be done at the grape genetics lab will be critical for the agriculture community and New York State’s economy as a whole. Improving the way that growers cultivate and process their grapes and studying the best ways to provide for healthy and strong grape crops will allow our growers to be the leader in the industry and will mean more jobs in Upstate New York.”

2009 Press Releases