Feb 14, 2020
UMaine potato breeding program gets $550K from NIFA

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced Feb. 13 that the University of Maine’s (UMaine) Cooperative Extension Potato Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has been awarded $553,486 to conduct further research on potato breeding. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Gregory Porter, head of the University of Maine’s potato breeding program.

“Maine’s potato industry is an integral part of our state’s heritage and plays a major role in our state’s economy,” said Sens. Collins and King in a joint statement. “By investing in UMaine research to improve the potato’s resilience, this funding will support Maine farmers and ensure that this industry remains strong for generations to come.”

As one of four universities to receive this federal grant, UMaine aims to develop new varieties of stress-tolerant, disease- and insect-resistant potatoes that display hardy qualities and are visually aesthetic to enhance marketing opportunities, farm sustainability, and profits for large and small farms alike.

RELATED: New Maine varieties show less acrylamide when fried

UMaine’s potato breeding and variety development program is headed by Gregory Porter, Ph.D.

As a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins worked to ensure that the recently enacted omnibus included $2.75 million — an increase of $250,000 — for potato research, and $20 million for the USDA’s IPM, program, which supports the work of UMaine’s Cooperative Extension Potato IPM program.


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