In addition to coordinating a broad research agenda, the grant provides major funding of Extension and outreach tools to ensure that research-based recommendations are adopted by the wine industry. “One of the four objectives in our project is a detailed plan for benchmarking current industry practices and charting adoption and satisfaction of recommendations that are delivered over the life of this project,” said Wolf. A broad range of media and teaching methods will be employed to reach producers, including Web-based and print media, eXtension Community of Practices, workshops, and regional short courses.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which was established by the 2008 farm bill to support the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined by law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Funded projects address five focus areas: (1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics, and genomics; (2) address threats from pests and diseases; (3) improve production efficiency, productivity, and profitability; (4) develop new innovations and technologies; and (5) develop methods to improve food safety.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 2,400 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.