USDA Awards $4.8 Million to Support Critical Agricultural Research and Extension Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $4.8 million to support 17 research and extension grants that address critically important problems in U.S. agriculture. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“America’s agricultural systems are constantly exposed to biological and environmental threats,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These NIFA investments in user-inspired projects bring together researchers, extension experts, and practitioners to find solutions that can be rapidly adopted by the agricultural community.”

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 Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE) seeks to address critical challenges and opportunities to improve the nation’s agricultural and food systems. Projects offer solutions to address local, regional, or national problems.

Fiscal year 2016 grants include:

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $294,000
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, $264,600
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $298,276
  • Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, $298,122
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, $300,000
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, $300,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $299,692
  • Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates, North Dakota, $299,987
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $296,614
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $299,404
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, $300,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $294,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $224,341
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $177,964
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, $294,000
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, $299,992
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, $294,000

Among these FY16 projects, a grant was awarded to Sitting Bull College in North Dakota, supporting critical research at a 1994 land-grant institution, a first for the AFRI CARE grant program. U.S. bison consumption is outpacing production, due to the animal’s low growth and reproductive rates. This project will reveal the genetic make-up and improve nutritional management of bison herds to address these challenges.

New this year, the National Peanut Board and the Washington State Potato Commission each co-funded a grant with NIFA, made possible by the Commodity Board provision in the 2014 Farm Bill. An award to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will identify drought-resistant peanut cultivars to help peanut growers in Virginia and North Carolina. An award to Oregon State University will improve management of potato early dying disease in the Pacific Northwest, a region that represents 57 percent of U.S. potato production.

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

Past AFRI CARE projects include a Kansas State University project to develop interactive online decision-guiding tools to give beef cattle producers more access to current research and expert knowledge. The University of Georgia is investigating the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of grass-fed beef.  A University of California-Riverside project is developing an early-warning system to better prevent and control avian influenza, a highly infectious pathogen and a critical problem confronting the U.S. poultry industry.

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