USDA awards potato research grants

For the Basin Business Journal | December 16, 2021 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded $2.6 million in potato breeding research grants to four researchers across the U.S., including $943,000 to a team of researchers at Washington State University.

The grants, which were announced in early November, were awarded as part of NIFA’s plant breeding, genetics and genomics programs, according to a NIFA announcement.

The grant to the WSU research team will help researchers develop new varieties of potatoes “to combat ever increasing stress and pest problems, improve production and utilization efficiency, and maintain the competitiveness of the U.S. potato industry” by identifying hardier traits and crossbreed current varieties using “advanced molecular and biotechnological approaches” best suited for the Pacific Northwest, according to a research summary available at NIFA’s web site.

Other grants awarded include $797,000 to a team at Michigan State University, $510,000 to a group at the University of Maine, and $415,000 to researchers at the Texas A&M University. The goal of the grant program is to help researchers develop potato varieties that can best thrive in local climatic conditions.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at