September 9, 2020

USDA-NIFA commits $14 million to research projects, more to come

To keep science discovery, innovation, and education moving forward, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) developed a series of COVID-19 Rapid Response funding opportunities targeted to the most critical issues facing university researchers, small businesses and consumers across America during the pandemic.

USDA-NIFA announced Sept. 9 that the agency has awarded nearly $14 million in this nationwide effort so far, with more projects to be funded in the next few months.

“It was quickly evident at the onset of the pandemic that the food supply, agricultural systems, families and education — key focus areas for USDA and our partners — would be greatly impacted by all the changes facing our society,” said USDA-NIFA Acting Director Parag Chitnis. “USDA-NIFA is uniquely positioned to help fund rapid response research, outreach and education efforts, while continuing to support our base research, Extension and 4-H youth development programs that are in place at all times to respond to producer and consumer needs, large and small, across the nation.”

Over the past few weeks, USDA-NIFA awarded close to $13 million across 17 grant projects through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and another 14 grants for $1.3 million through the Small Business Innovation Research Program to support research and development across all areas of agricultural research, education, and small business innovation addressing the pandemic. NIFA expects to announce another round of AFRI-funded projects in October.

This new support adds to USDA-NIFA capacity funds already in place in every state and communities to make it possible for land-grant universities, tribal colleges, and their Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension Services. These funds support the people and facilities that make up the network of grassroots support providing local farmer and rancher education and advice, community development and resilience tools, health and nutrition expertise, and 4-H and youth development opportunities.

“In emergencies like this, trusted resources and expertise are available to Americans, particularly in the rural areas, through local Extension offices,” Chitnis said. “Extension agents have personal connections with people and communities.” b?


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