The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $6.6 million for research focused on improving animal nutrition and growth and announced $1.2 million in available funding to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture in the U.S.
These awards were made through the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program, administered by USDA's National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA).
“Animal production and health play critical roles in the sustainability and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. They contribute significantly to the nation's economy, global food production and food security” NIFA administrator Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy said. “These awards will expand knowledge and best practices to enhance animal health, lower production costs and minimize environmental impacts.”
Grants were awarded through the Animal Nutrition, Growth & Lactation program, part of the AFRI Foundational Program, which supports basic and applied research. Research areas include: studying how animals use the nutrients in their feed; improving the use of traditional feed; exploring opportunities to use non-traditional feedstuffs; increasing the quality and efficiency of producing meat, milk and eggs, and mitigating metabolic disorders.
Fiscal year 2015 grants include:
- University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $485,000.
- University of California, Davis, Cal., $500,000.
- University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $150,000.
- University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $500,000.
- University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill., $485,000.
- Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $990,487 (two awards).
- North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $20,000.
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., $500,000.
- South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $500,000.
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $1.0 million (two awards).
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, Va., $500,000.
- West Virginia University Research Corp., Morgantown, W.Va., $500,000.
- University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., $500,000.
Among the projects funded are a South Dakota State University project aimed at improving the knowledge of starch digestion in cattle and an Iowa State University project designed to improve the delivery and availability of nutrients and energy to pigs facing disease challenges to minimize losses in growth rates and production efficiency.
Science funded by AFRI is vital to meeting food, fiber and fuel demands as the world's population heads toward a projected 9 billion people by 2050, diminishing land and water resources under increasingly variable climatic conditions. In addition, AFRI programs help develop new technologies and a workforce that will advance national security, energy self-sufficiency and the health of Americans.
The President's 2017 budget request proposes to fully fund AFRI for $700 million — the full funding level authorized by Congress when it established AFRI in the 2008 farm bill.
The Aquaculture Research program focuses on projects that directly address major challenges to the U.S. aquaculture industry. Results of projects supported by this program are intended to help improve the profitability of the U.S. aquaculture industry, reduce the U.S. trade deficit, increase domestic food security, provide markets for U.S. produced products, increase domestic aquaculture business investment opportunities and provide more jobs for rural and coastal America.
Aquaculture contributes more than half of the seafood consumed globally, and this contribution is expected to grow. Although U.S. aquaculture production has shown growth in the past decade, the U.S. currently still has a trade deficit in seafood products of approximately $12 billion and imports more than 90% of the seafood consumed.
The factors that limit aquaculture in the U.S. are complex and multifaceted. Applied research in genetics, disease, production systems and economics is needed to develop practical solutions that will facilitate growth of the U.S. aquaculture industry. This research will help reduce the U.S. trade deficit in seafood products and enhance the capacity of the U.S. aquaculture industry to contribute to domestic and global food security and economic growth.
Since 2014, this program has awarded nearly $2.5 million in funding. Applications are due May 17. See the research grants program website for more information.