The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) announced $150.2 million in available funding to support projects that build a foundation of knowledge in agricultural sciences to address a range of societal and global challenges, such as food security, food safety, sustainable agriculture and rural entrepreneurship. Funding is made through NIFA’s Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which was authorized by the 2014 farm bill.
“The global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and agricultural output may need to increase substantially to meet the demand,” NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. “To ensure nutritional security, it is imperative to develop innovative technologies and sustainable management strategies for livestock, crops and critical underlying resources.”
AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program that provides funding for foundational and translational research, education and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The AFRI Foundational RFA supports six priorities of the 2014 farm bill: plant health, production and plant products; animal health, production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; bioenergy, natural resources and the environment; agriculture systems and technology, and agricultural economics and rural communities. In addition, it supports critical agricultural research and extension as well as Exploratory Grants Programs. AFRI projects address key agricultural, food and natural resource problems of national, regional and multi-state importance.
New this year, the AFRI Foundational RFA is welcoming workshop proposals to catalyze activities for harnessing big data to synthesize new knowledge, to make predictive decisions and to foster data-driven innovation in agriculture. This new focus area aligns with NIFA’s Food & Agriculture Cyberinformatics & Tools initiative, which supports data-enabled solutions for addressing complex problems facing contemporary agriculture.
This year’s AFRI Foundational RFA also seeks applications to develop a U.S. animal vaccinology research network to help leverage U.S. expertise and encourage mutually beneficial international linkages to develop new vaccine tools and technologies.
Commodity boards are partnering with NIFA through this AFRI RFA to provide matching funds that will accelerate agricultural research. The National Peanut Board will co-fund AFRI projects on innovations in disease and pest management in peanut production. The Mushroom Council will co-fund projects to enhance nutrient quality, taste and consumer acceptance of mushroom/protein blends.
Deadlines vary by program; see the request for applications for details.