USDA grants to advance ag production

MICHIGAN State University (MSU) announced that it has netted the lion's share of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's $6 million in awards to help increase food security and improve food production.

The grants were awarded through USDA's Agriculture & Food Research Initiative and administered through the National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA).

Lorraine Sordillo, MSU professor of large animal clinical sciences, will use nearly $1 million to develop best practices to help dairy farmers around the country manage production losses and reduce diseases that affect transition dairy cattle. This is a key period just before and after calving, when cows' metabolic needs increase dramatically. How cows cope during this high-energy transition affects their milk production.

Paul Bartlett, MSU professor of large animal clinical sciences, was awarded nearly $960,000 to address bovine leukemia virus and to help reduce the disease's impact on the U.S. dairy industry.

Janice Siegford, MSU assistant professor of animal science, will use nearly $750,000 to develop behavioral and genomic tools to help improve swine interaction in group housing settings. Siegford will seek ways to reduce undesirable behaviors, such as fighting, which can affect the performance of pigs and lead to injuries, lameness or death.

"As the world population continues to grow, we will need to find ways to double our food production levels to sustain an estimated 9 billion people," NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. "As a leader in agriculture production, the United States plays a critical role in feeding the world. This funding is critical to finding new solutions that will enable us to feed, clothe and shelter all people."

USDA also awarded MSU $3.9 million on April 30 to help Michigan farmers adapt to climate change, tackle food safety issues and help small- and medium-sized farms better compete in the marketplace.

Volume:86 Issue:23

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