Feb 3, 2016USDA awards $30.1 million for plant, food safety research
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $30.1 million in competitive grants to fund 80 research projects to improve food safety, reduce antibiotic resistance in food, and increase the resilience of plants in the face of climate change, according to a news release. The grants are made possible through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Dr. John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, joined Secretary Vilsack to make the announcement.
In addition to the awards made today, Vilsack and Holdren announced that the President’s 2017 Budget will invest a total of $700 million for AFRI, the fully authorized funding level established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Since its creation, AFRI has been funded at less than half the levels established in the 2008 Farm Bill, and USDA has only been able to fund one out of 10 research proposals presented.
AFRI grants are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which is making today’s awards through funding provided in fiscal year 2015. NIFA is awarding $15.1 million to fund 35 projects in AFRI’s Food Safety area, focused on enhancing food safety through improved processing technologies, effective mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, improving food safety, and improving food quality. $3.4 million of this funding will be used to address antimicrobial resistance throughout the food chain.
NIFA is also awarding $15 million today to universities, laboratories, and research organizations to fund 45 projects in AFRI’s Plant Health and Production and Plant Products area. These grants focus on plant breeding for agricultural production; plant growth and development, composition, and stress tolerance; and photosynthesis and nutrient use in agricultural plants.
Since AFRI’s creation, NIFA has awarded more than $89 million to solve challenges related to plant health and production. Additional grants for studies and outreach that address plant protection against microbes, insects, and weeds will be announced later this year.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture awards AFRI grants in 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.