USDA to Build $69 Million Grape Research Lab at Cornell

Sen. Chuck Schumer announced $68.9 million in funding to build a new laboratory for the federal Grape Genetic Research Unit at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. The Grape Genetic Research Unit provides critical information to grape growers across the country through a variety of innovative research programs, including cold tolerance and improved resistance to crop-killing disease.

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“USDA completed a feasibility study to build a new lab back in 2003 when the unit was housed in an outdated and cramped facility on the Cornell AgriTech campus,” Schumer said in a statement. “Even after moving to better space at Cornell last year, the unit still needs 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 unit to pursue 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,” he said. “We greatly appreciate Senator Schumer for recognizing and supporting our vision for our work and its future impact on our stakeholders.”

Jan Nyrop, Director of Cornell AgriTech and Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, emphasized the facility will benefit all grape growers.

“Thanks to support from Senator Schumer, the new 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.”