In 1993, Congress appropriated funds to establish a nationally coordinated research program for the emerging U.S. canola industry. The National Canola Research Program (NCRP) is funded by the Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support projects that lead to expanded adaptation and increased acres of canola grown for oil in the United States. This includes breeding, testing and development of high-performing canola varieties and production practices that result in improved cost efficiencies, reduced grower risks, and wider use in production systems.
The NCRP matches funds for projects in up to five U.S. canola-growing regions (North Central, Great Plains, Pacific Northwest, South and Midwest/Northeast) and/or that are national in scope. About $1 million in competitive grants are awarded each year based on regional priorities set by technical and industry advisory committees. Each region looks for ways to increase canola production by developing and testing superior germplasm; improving methods of planting, cultivation and harvesting; researching insect, disease and weed control; creating best management practices; and transferring new knowledge to producers as soon as practicable. Research is generally conducted per region on:
Crop production technology
Germplasm enhancement, genetics and breeding
Marketing and market research
Transfer of developed technology through an extension program
Specific research objectives help guide applicants. Extension, education and communication activities related to the research areas above must be addressed in proposals. The request for applications is every spring with a deadline about six weeks later (in 2019, submissions were called for on April 12 and due by May 31).
Since its inception, the NCRP has fostered cooperation between the public and private sectors to make canola a viable crop in the United States. The program demonstrates how modest federal research support can be efficiently targeted to achieve a national goal through regional efforts.