USDA offers $6m to fund antimicrobial resistance research

NIFA nearly doubles amount of money available for antimicrobial resistance research.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of $6 million to fund research to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The funding is available through the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 farm bill and administered by USDA's National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA).

"Through our Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "The research projects funded through this announcement will help us succeed in our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health."

This funding is one of many ways USDA supports the federal Combating Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (CARB) National Action Plan and work of the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic Resistance, which USDA co-chairs. Specifically, this program priority promotes the development of sustainable and integrated food safety strategies that reduce public health risks along the entire food chain, from producer to consumer.

Applications must address one or more of the following:

  • Develop novel systems approaches to investigate the ecology of resistance microbes and gene reservoirs in the environment in animals, crops, food products or farm-raised aquaculture products.
  • Develop, evaluate and implement effective and sustainable resources and strategies to include alternative practices, techniques, technologies or tools that mitigate the emergence, spread or persistence of AMR pathogens within the agricultural ecosystem, in animals, crops and food.
  • Identify critical control points for mitigating AMR in the pre-harvest and post-harvest food production environment.
  • Design innovative training, education and outreach resources (including web-based resources) that can be adapted by users across the food chain, including policy-makers, producers, processors, retailers and consumers.
  • Design and conduct studies that evaluate the impact and efficacy of proposed research, education and extension/outreach interventions on antimicrobial resistance across the food chain, from primary producers to primary consumers.

Since 2009, more than $82 million in food safety research and extension grants has been awarded through AFRI, including $3.4 million in fiscal year 2015 for AMR. Previously funded projects include a State University of New York project evaluating critical control points in dairy farm operations and a Texas A&M University project to develop science-based decision-making aids related to antibiotic stewardship.

Applications are due Aug. 3, 2016. See the request for applications for more information.

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