USDA invests $2.5m in commodity board projects

Five grants selected for joint ag research projects around the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) announced five grants totaling more than $2.5 million for agricultural research that is funded jointly with national or state commodity boards. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which was authorized by the 2014 farm bill. 

“Our collaboration with commodity boards helps the U.S. agriculture industry thrive,” NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. “By responding to the needs of the U.S. agricultural sector, we are investing in research that will have a positive economic impact.”  

In fiscal 2016, the first year of collaboration with national and state commodity boards, topics from five commodity boards were integrated into four program area priorities within two AFRI requests for applications (RFAs): Improving Food Safety, Critical Agricultural Research & Extension and Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production in the Foundational Program RFA, and Breeding & Phenomics of Food Crops & Animals in the Food Security Challenge Area RFA.

The commodity boards provided half of the funding for the award in their topic area. The projects include:

  • USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Southern Region, received a NIFA grant of $489,804, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to investigate peanut and tree nut allergies.
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the Washington State Potato Commission, to improve data management tracking of early-dying disease in potatoes.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, Va., received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to research drought tolerance in peanuts.
  • Iowa State University of Science & Technology, Ames, Iowa, received a NIFA grant of $490,000, funded jointly with a consortia of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, Nebraska Corn Board and Kentucky Corn Promotion Council, to improve yield prediction models for next-generation corn breeders.
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., received a NIFA grant of $980,000, funded jointly with the Kansas Wheat Commission, to improve selection protocols to accelerate wheat quality.

Commodity boards are organizations that promote, research and share industry and consumer information on particular agricultural products, such as almonds, honey, lamb, wheat and more. The 2014 farm bill enables commodity boards to submit topics for research supported through AFRI, America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences.

Topics must relate to established AFRI priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; bioenergy, natural resources and environment; agricultural systems and technology, and agricultural economics and rural communities. Once topics are approved, the resulting proposals are reviewed using NIFA’s established peer-review process.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA's integrated research, education and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety.

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