USDA announces more than $146M investment in sustainable agricultural research

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an investment of more than $146 million in sustainable agricultural research projects aimed at improving a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.
This investment is made under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program, a program that 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.

This investment is part of 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 like these awarded today will result in long-term improvements in agricultural practices that will benefit consumers, farmers, and the environment,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. 
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. They will develop innovative education programs and novel Extension programming to support sustainable groundwater and irrigated agricultural systems, create models (geophysical, hydrology, biophysical, and socioeconomics), develop climate change adaptation management strategies, and produce decision support tools. ($10 million)
  • 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. The work aims to prevent chronic disease in households and communities across the U.S. Affiliated Pacific insular area. ($10 million) 
  • 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. They will also research ways to increase economic markets and production sustainability for seafood and hemp. ($10 million)

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