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USDA Announces Funding for Research, Education, Extension

25 February 2015

US - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced more than $160 million in funding for food and agriculture research, education and extension.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the availability of more than $160 million in funding for research, education, and extension projects that address key challenges affecting US agriculture production. NIFA will fund the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director, said: "The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative was created to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face as a society, such as hunger and food security, health, climate, food safety and bioenergy.

"We are now in AFRI's sixth year, and already the programme has made strides in advancing agricultural science. I am extremely proud of the work NIFA has funded thus far, and excited to see what groundbreaking research, education, and extension projects will result from this year's funding. These projects provide funding for the critical research, training, and assistance that ultimately strengthens rural America and our economy."

NIFA released six separate requests for applications (RFA) through the AFRI program. Five RFAs will support AFRI's challenge areas: food security, water, childhood obesity prevention, food safety, and climate. The challenge areas fund integrated, applied science that seek to find solutions to societal challenges that impact our ability to feed, clothe, and shelter a rising global population.

An additional RFA for the AFRI Foundational program will addresses the six Farm Bill priority areas:

  • plant health and production and plant products
  • animal health and production and animal products
  • food safety, nutrition and health
  • bioenergy, natural resources and environment
  • agriculture systems and technology; and
  • agriculture economics and rural communities.

Fiscal Year 2015 AFRI RFAs include:

  • Foundational Program This program builds a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences that are critical for solving current and future societal challenges. The programme funds work across all six Farm Bill priority areas. $116 million

  • Water The Water challenge area focuses on developing solutions for water management that link food, water, climate, energy, and environmental issues. Funding will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. $9 million

  • Food Safety The goal of this program is to further develop and promote the use of innovative and sustainable food processing technologies and better understand, characterize, and mitigate antimicrobial resistance across the food chain, from farm-to-fork. $6 million

  • Agricultural and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change In fiscal year 2015, NIFA will accept applications that support research to facilitate the adaptation of agroecosystems and natural resource systems to climate variability and the implementation of mitigation strategies in those systems. NIFA is soliciting proposals in three programme areas: 1) climate and microbial processes in agroecosystems, 2) climate resilient land use for agriculture and forestry, and 3) synthesis and assessment of NIFA's climate investments. $5 million

  • Childhood Obesity Prevention Fiscal year 2015 funding is focused on generating new knowledge of behavioural, social and environmental factors that influence childhood obesity. This knowledge should be used to develop and implement effective interventions for preventing overweight and obesity and promoting healthy behaviors in children and adolescents. The program focuses on prevention of weight gain and does not fund projects to promote weight loss. $6 million

  • Food Security This programme's goal is to develop more sustainable, productive, and economically viable plant and animal production systems. It will also develop regionally-adapted crop cultivars and livestock breeds that contribute to rural economic development and prosperity while enhancing food security. $16 million

Application deadlines vary by programme area. See the request for application for more details. NIFA released the AFRI Food Security Challenge Area RFA on 30 January 2015 in a separate announcement.

The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas:

  • plant health and production and plant products
  • animal health and production and animal products
  • food safety, nutrition and health
  • bioenergy, natural resources and environment
  • agriculture systems and technology; and
  • agriculture economics and rural communities.

The 2014 Farm Bill requires NIFA to establish Centers of Excellence for food and agricultural research, education, and extension. Applicants who meet the requirements of this funding opportunity are also eligible to apply for Center of Excellence designation as part of their grant application, which gives them priority consideration during the external peer review process. Information on applying for this designation can be found in the RFA.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at www.nifa.usda.gov.

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