In 1993, Congress appropriated funds to establish a nationally coordinated research program for the emerging U.S. canola industry. Today, the National Canola Research Program (NCRP) is competitively 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 increased canola production in the United States. This includes 1) fundamental and applied research and demonstration plots for innovative and enhanced planting, cultivating, harvesting, proving methods, and input cost efficiencies for use in production systems that include canola; and 2) testing germplasm and breeding for superior performing varieties to increase productivity, profitability, and adaptation to an expanded range of U.S. growing environments for canola.
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. It ensures the greatest possible cooperation between participating universities and private sector sponsors on state, regional and national levels. About $1 million in competitive grants are awarded each year based on regional priorities set by technical and industry advisory committees. 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.