USDA will award $30.1 million in competitive grants to fund 80 research projects to improve food safety, reduce antibiotic resistance in food, and increase the resilience of plants in the face of climate change. The grants are made possible through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
“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,” says Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary. “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.”
AFRI grants are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA is awarding $15.1 million to fund 35 projects in AFRI’s food safety area, focused on enhancing food safety through improved processing technologies, effective mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, improving food safety, and improving food quality. $3.4 million of this funding will be used to address antimicrobial resistance throughout the food chain. Since 2009, more than $82 million in food safety research and extension grants has been awarded through AFRI.
NIFA is also awarding $15 million today to universities, laboratories, and research organizations to fund 45 projects in AFRI's Plant Health and Production and Plant Products area. These grants focus on plant breeding for agricultural production; plant growth and development, composition, and stress tolerance; and photosynthesis and nutrient use in agricultural plants.