NIFA Accepting Pre-Applications for the FY 2024 SCRI Program

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is requesting pre-applications for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. More than $75 million will be available to solve critical United States specialty crop issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research and extension activities that use systems-based, trans-disciplinary approaches.

What is the program’s purpose?  The intent of the SCRI program is to solve the needs of the various specialty crop industries through the promotion of collaboration, open communication, the exchange of information, and the development of resources that accelerate application of scientific discovery and technology. The priorities of SCRI reflects the needs of the specialty crops industries.

Who is eligible to apply? Pre-applications may only be submitted by Federal agencies, national laboratories, colleges and universities, research institutions and organizations, private organizations or corporations, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, individuals, or groups consisting of two or more of these entities.

What are the focus areas for this program? The SCRI program has five legislatively mandated focus areas to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address needs of specific crops and their regions, including the following:

  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics; 
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases;
  • Long term efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing);
  • New innovations, data-driven predictive tools using Artificial Intelligence, and technology; and 
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production and processing of specialty crops, including fresh produce.

NIFA will address all focus areas by funding projects that emphasize systems-based, transdisciplinary approaches.

What are the SCRI project types? The SCRI program offers three project type, which include:

Standard Research and Extension Projects (SREPs):

SREP awards will support targeted problem-solving efforts that contribute to the overall sustainability of a primary system or one of its components (see Figure I on Page 7 of this project’s Request for Pre-Applications), and that would not otherwise qualify in scope and effort for support as a Coordinated Agricultural Project (see below).

Applications should bring together both research and extension components of the agricultural knowledge system around a problem area or activity. For each SREP award, there is an expectation that an advisory panel will be formed to inform the project throughout its life, including the identification and prioritization of research and extension objectives.

It is anticipated that total multi-year funding for most funded SREP awards will be close to the historical median of approximately $2.03 million. The project period is up to five years.

Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs):

CAPs will be awarded to consortia or groups of qualified applicants to address multiple components of a primary system, an entire primary system or problems that cut across primary systems, with the expectation that the project will make significant contributions to the sustainability of the system or system component (see Figure 1 on Page 7 of this project’s Request for Pre-Applications).

CAP applications are expected to demonstrate coherent and complementary integrated activities with the goal of developing a strategy or solution that could be implemented for specialty crops. Applications are expected to take advantage of recent advances in biological, physical, and social and economic sciences and to translate basic discoveries and knowledge to practical applications; they are also expected to demonstrate the potential to develop a national strategy or solution as a goal. Such a national CAP should aim to reduce duplication of efforts and integrate activities among individuals, institutions, states, and regions.

It is anticipated that total multi-year funding for most funded SREP awards will be close to the historical median of approximately $5.78 million. The project period is up to five years.

Research and Extension Planning Projects:

The purpose of this project type is to provide assistance to applicants in the development of quality future SREP or CAP proposals (grant planning). Funds may also be requested to provide assistance to consumer, producer, or industry groups for developing strategic research and extension plans—including goals, objectives, priorities, etc. (strategic planning). The expectation is that developed plans could provide the relevance bases for future SCRI grant applications.

 The maximum award for this project type is $50,000 with a one year project period. 

Are matching funds required? The 2018 Farm Bill requires the recipient of an award from the SCRI program to provide funds, in-kind contributions, or a combination of both, from sources other than funds provided through such grant in an amount that is at least equal to the amount awarded by NIFA.

However, for fiscal years 2019 through 2023, NIFA has waived the matching requirement when provided the authority by Congress through language in the appropriations bill. This pre-application is being released prior to a FY2024 Appropriation Act. Should any statutory changes such as wavier authority be included in the FY2024 Appropriations Act prior to award but after the full application RFA closes, NIFA will include those changes in the final grants package.

What is the timeline for this grant opportunity? The first pre-application stage must be submitted electronically through on December 8, 2023 by 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Upon completion of the review process, NIFA will recommend which applications to invite for submission of a full application. Invited applicants will be sent instructions on how to access the full Request for Applications via email once the relevance review is completed.

The full Request for Pre-applications can be found here.

Morrison has extensive experience writing successful applications for clients for NIFA programs. For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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