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USDA: $7.4 Million for Research on Food Crops and Animals
USAgNet - 05/19/2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced nine grants totaling $7.4 million for advanced research to develop more resilient and nutritious crops and food animals. The funding is made possible through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Research helps us accelerate the development of improved livestock, poultry, aquaculture, and crops," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "These investments use 21st century precision technologies to develop hardier plants and animals, advances that will contribute to both food security and rural economic development."

AFRI is America's flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The grants in this announcement are made under the AFRI Food Security Challenge Area program. Funded projects focus on the breeding of crops and food animals, improving trait measurement methods (phenomics), and understanding how genes and the environment interact in determining economically important traits. These research projects help scientists rapidly implement and scale up plant and animal breeding to meet the challenges of diseases, changing climate, and a growing population.

Institutions receiving AFRI Food Security Breeding and Phenomics of Food Crops and Animals grants for fiscal year 2016 include Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, which will receive two grants: one for $980,000 and another for $733,795.

Among these projects, NIFA and the Kansas Wheat Commission, in response to the commodity board provision in the 2014 Farm Bill, are co-funding Kansas State University researchers to increase understanding of the genes responsible for wheat quality, as well as improve selection strategies that will speed the delivery of superior varieties to wheat farmers. The Cornell University project will use molecular research to better understand the composition of oat seeds. Michigan State University will study social interactions and their genetic basis in pigs to enhance well-being and increase pork production efficiency for group-housed pigs.

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