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USDA Invests $17.5 Million for Resilient Rural Communities and a Sustainable Agriculture Economy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 47 grants totaling nearly $17.5 million to improve sustainable agriculture and help rural communities thrive. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“A number of factors are involved in achieving economic success in rural communities,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments will help us understand the social and behavioral factors that inform decision-making in agriculture, which can help rural communities thrive.”

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The AFRI program area of Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) supports projects that improve agricultural sustainability, protect the environment, enhance quality of life for rural communities, and alleviate poverty. In FY16, AFRI AERC supported projects in five program areas: economics, markets, and trade; environmental and natural resource economics; behavioral economics; small and medium-sized farms; and rural entrepreneurship.

FY16 AERC grants include:

  • Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, $496,589
  • Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, $496,407
  • The Regents of the University of California, Santa Cruz, California, $149,920
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, $499,420
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, $49,945
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $499,729
  • Albany State University, Albany, Georgia, $499,724
  • Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, Georgia, $149,827
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, $499,630
  • Regents of the University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $499,999
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $499,612
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $483,495
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, $50,000
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $196,257
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, $499,917
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, $49,716
  • University of Maine System/University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $498,462
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $458,275
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $77,492
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, $249,909.00
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $499,875
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $499,956
  • Regents of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $500,000
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $499,760
  • University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, $39,821
  • Board of Regents, NSHE, on behalf of the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, $499,820
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, $499,883
  • Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York, $500,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $500,000
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina $50,000
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, $499,536
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $499,384
  • Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, $488,902
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $319,755
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $499,979
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $179,404
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, $499,985
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, College Station, Texas, $499,996
  • Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, $358,470
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, $402,890
  • Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, $309,944
  • The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, Madison, Wisconsin, $499,765
  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, $496,328
  • The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, Burlington, Vermont, $47,013
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $250,000
  • Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C., $499,997
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, $148,711

Among these FY16 projects, a University of Maine project will encourage youth employment and entrepreneurship activities to foster resilient rural communities. A University of Arizona project will address food waste through a sharing economy business model among farmers, retailers, restaurants, and consumers.

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

Past AERC projects include a Rutgers University workshop on policies to achieve a viable bioeconomy, which is the creation of food, feed, bio-based projects, and bioenergy from renewable biological resources. Michigan State University looked at ways to boost rural economic development by improving the transfer of university-developed technologies into commercial products, a process also known as technology transfer.

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