NIFA awards $4.8m for ag research grants

Grants will fund research on antibiotic-free diets for weaning pigs, optimizing animal health via control of ticks and improving management of potato early dying disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) announced $4.8 million to support 17 research and extension grants that address critically important problems in U.S. agriculture. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, which was authorized by the 2014 farm bill.

“America's agricultural systems are constantly exposed to biological and environmental threats,” NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. “These NIFA investments in user-inspired projects bring together researchers, extension experts and practitioners to find solutions that can be rapidly adopted by the agricultural community.”

AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. AFRI's Critical Agricultural Research & Extension (CARE) program area seeks to address critical challenges and opportunities to improve the nation’s agricultural and food systems. Projects offer solutions to address local, regional or national problems.

Fiscal 2016 grants include:

·         Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $294,000.

·         Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colo., $264,600.

·         Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $298,276.

·         Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Miss., $298,122.

·         Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $300,000.

·         Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $300,000.

·         Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $299,692.

·         Sitting Bull College, Ft. Yates, N.D., $299,987.

·         Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $296,614.

·         Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $299,404.

·         South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $300,000.

·         Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $294,000.

·         Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $224,341.

·         Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $177,964.

·         Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, $294,000.

·         University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $299,992.

·         Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, Va., $294,000.

Among these fiscal 2016 projects, a grant was awarded to Sitting Bull College in North Dakota supporting critical research at a 1994 land-grant institution -- a first for the AFRI CARE grant program. With U.S. bison consumption outpacing production due to the animal’s low growth and reproductive rates, this project will reveal the genetic make-up and improve nutritional management of bison herds to address these challenges.

Texas A&M received funding to improve animal health, well-being and welfare in cow/calf production systems where the negative effects of tick parasitism and tick-borne diseases are management concerns.

Texas Tech has been awarded a grant to evaluate the longitudinal effects of cortisol analogs to improve weanling pig health and growth and provide an alternative to antibiotics.

New this year, the National Peanut Board and the Washington State Potato Commission each co-funded a grant with NIFA, made possible by the Commodity Board provision in the 2014 farm bill. An award to Virginia Tech will identify drought-resistant peanut cultivars to help peanut growers in Virginia and North Carolina. An award to Oregon State University will improve management of potato early dying disease in the Pacific Northwest, a region that represents 57% of U.S. potato production.

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