ORONO, Maine — US Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine say the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $388,000 to the University of Maine to study ways to improve quality and pest resistance of potatoes.

The money will be used to study potato breeding with a goal of increasing productivity and profitability for farms large and small.

The senators say the University of Maine will serve as the lead on an eastern potato breeding project focused on developing attractive, productive, disease- and insect-resistant potato varieties.

Collins, a Republican, and King, an independent, say the funding will “build on our strong agricultural traditions so we can make Maine potato products more economically resilient.”