USDA Awarding $30.1 Million in Grants for Food Safety Research Projects

USDA Awarding $30.1 Million in Grants for Food Safety Research Projects
Image: Pixabay
February 3, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $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.

The grants are made possible through the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which recently saw a funding increase to a total of $700 million, which is the level established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.

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.

About $3.4 million of this funding will be used to address antimicrobial resistance throughout the food chain. Since 2009, more than $82 million in food safety research and extension grants has been awarded through AFRI.

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 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 ten research proposals presented. While grants awarded to universities, non-profits, community groups, businesses, foundations, associations, and federal agency and international partnerships have led to significant achievements that address critical issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, and communities, thousands of innovative research proposals have been left unfunded.

Additional grants for studies and outreach that address plant protection against microbes, insects, and weeds will be announced later this year.