November 8, 2005

Bill Proposes $7 Mil. for CALS

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Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (D-24th) announced a $7.35 million construction initiative for Cornell this month. The new buildings will be for agricultural research and will include a new facility for grape genetics research at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ campus in Geneva, N.Y.

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva was established in 1880 to improve genetics, cultivation, protection, post-harvest handling and the processing of fruit and vegetable crops for the agriculture college. Its mission is to advance a sustainable plant agriculture and food system through state of the art research, extension and education programs that address local and worldwide needs.

The grape genomics research that will take place in the new facility will impact wine and grape industries in the upstate New York region, as well as nationally and even worldwide, said Dr. Thomas Burr, the station’s director.

Currently there are six scientists working in grape genomics at the station, including Cornell scientists and U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

Both Boehlert and Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd) have been working to secure the funding for the new facility. The bill must first be introduced to Congress through the House Appropriations Committee. Hinchey is member of the subcommittee that handles agricultural issues.

“The congressman made [the facility] aware to the committee chairman. Congressman Hinchey’s involvement in the agriculture subcommittee allowed him to fight and get this money,” said Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for Hinchey. “The Senate passed the bill. The president is expected to sign it into law within the next ten days. I don’t think there were any significant obstacles.”

Boehlert emphasized the impact the legislation would have on the agriculture industry for farmers and wine makers across the country.

“Hinchey and Boehlert have worked together to gain federal funding in previous years,” Lieberson said. “Cornell came to us and told us about the importance of this project. They made us aware of the need for federal funding.”

“The Cornell and federal scientists interact and complement each other well,” Burr said. “We are pleased to have the ARS scientists here, as they add to the scientific community overall at Cornell. They offer additional support for Cornell research. It’s a very good relationship.”

“This has been a project that has been developing over the past few years. This facility greatly strengthens Cornell programs,” Burr said. “We are very grateful to Congressman Boehlert for his continued vision of science and for supporting this facility.”

Burr said that a site has already been picked for the new facility. Scientists will be housed there and cooperate on projects that are carried out in that facility. These projects will include the study of genetics in grape vines, especially the quality of the fruit, and disease and pest resistance, among others.

“This facility gives us the opportunity to study all genetic pieces in a grape vine and how they influence all these characteristics,” Burr said. He added that the research at the new facility will be the cutting edge of all aspects of grape genetics and grape genomics.

Archived article by Kristen Aufeiro
Sun Contributor