USDA Awards More Than $14.5 Million to Support Plant Health and Resilience Research06/03/2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded more than $14.5 million in grants to support research into plant health, production and resilience. These grants were made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“As global temperatures rise, we are already seeing that our crops and native plants are increasingly threatened by pests, diseases and invasive species,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Research into growing more resilient, stress tolerant crops that use water and nutrients more efficiently will offer farmers new tools to produce crops sustainably, and will benefit consumers with food security in the face of climate change and the loss of agricultural land.”
Established by the 2008 Farm Bill and re-authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, AFRI is the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. In the seven years since AFRI was established, the program has led to true innovations and ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety.
The grants were awarded through AFRI’s Plant Health and Production and Plant Products (PHPPP) area, which supports basic and applied research in the following areas: understanding plant-associated microorganisms and plant-microbe interactions; controlling weedy and invasive plants; and plant-associated insects and nematodes.
Descriptions of these projects are available on the NIFA reporting website.
To date, PHPPP has awarded more than $68 million to further progress and solve challenges in plant production through research, education, and extension. For example, University of Pennsylvania researchers are currently using funding to working to aid the pollination of plants by producing improved honey bee strains.