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US invests over $146 million in sustainable ag research

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced an investment of more than $146 million in sustainable agriculture research projects that will make the American farm and food system more resilient to climate challenges.

8 October 2021, at 7:30am

This investment is made under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program. This innovative program focuses on a broad base of needed research solutions from addressing labor challenges and promoting land stewardship to correcting climate change impacts in agriculture and critical needs in food and nutrition.

“USDA is tackling urgent challenges facing American agriculture and communities across our nation. Critical issues like food insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention and market disruption requires investments to help meet these challenges. This is the time for agriculture, forestry and rural communities to act. Together we can lead the way with investments in science and research and climate-smart solutions that feed and nourish families, improve the profitability and resilience of producers, improve forest health, while creating new income opportunities and building wealth that stays in rural communities,” said Secretary Vilsack.

This investment is part the third installment of NIFA grants within its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program designed to improve plant and animal production and sustainability, and human and environmental health. AFRI is the nation’s leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. These grants are available to eligible colleges, universities and other research organizations.

“Investments in research projects likes these will result in long-term improvements in agricultural practices that will benefit consumers, farmers and the environment,” said NIFA Director Dr Carrie Castille. “It takes an inclusive systems approach to tackle these major issues. We are excited to see impacts this research investment will generate for our nation to move us towards solutions that benefit all Americans.”

New research projects

Examples of the 15 projects funded under the AFRI Sustainable Agriculture Systems projects include:

  • University of California researchers and their partners aim to alleviate groundwater over-use and sustain irrigated agriculture in the Southwest United States.
  • University of Hawaii and partners will develop a Children’s Healthy Living Food Systems Model and simulations to identify and test drivers of resiliency in food supply chains for decreasing food waste and increasing food and nutrition security, healthful diets and health among children.
  • Central State University and its multidisciplinary team, partnering with 1890 land-grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a 1994 land-grant Tribal College and 1862 Land-grant Universities, will investigate using hemp as an aquaculture feed ingredient to address food safety concerns about consuming seafood raised with hemp feed additives.
  • A Colby College partnership project will compare and optimize algae feed additives for dairy cows, and will assess the impact at the animal-, farm- and community-level.