The 2017 budget will allow for $30.1 million in competitive grants for 80 upcoming research projects on a variety of topics including food safety, the reduction of antibiotic resistance in food, and the increase of plant resilience.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s Science and Technology Adviser, announced this month that the grants will be made available through the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
AFRI will be funded a total of $700 million in the president’s 2017 budget, the full amount allotted by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI, which is the nation’s No. 1 competitive peer-reviewed grants program focused on fundamental and applied agricultural sciences, has enabled the discovery of ways to combat many of the global food demands. In past years, the government has only funded AFRI at about half this amount, limiting the grants available for research from the USDA.
“In the face of diminishing land and water resources and increasingly variable climatic conditions, food production must increase to meet the demands of world population projected to pass nine billion by 2050,” Vilsack said. “Funding in research to respond to these challenges should be considered as an investment in our nation’s future, an investment which will pay big dividends in the years to come.”
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is administering the grants through funding from fiscal year 2015. AFRI’s Food Safety sector will receive $15.1 million for 35 projects ranging in topic from food safety improvement to food quality improvement. Approximately $3.4 million of the $15.1 million will be dedicated to antimicrobial resistance in the food chain. NIFA will also award $15 million to universities and researchers for 45 projects in AFRI’s Plant Health and Production and Plant Products division.
“Further strengthening our investments in agricultural research will be essential for U.S. farmers to be able to keep the nation’s food supply abundant, healthy, reliable, and sustainable through the 21st century,” Holdren said. “That’s why the president’s forthcoming 2017 budget request doubles funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to the full authorized level of $700 million.”