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USDA Invests $30.8 Million in Historically Black Land-Grant Universities

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USDA aims to strengthen agricultural innovation and education across the United States.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a significant investment of $30.8 million dedicated to all 19 of America’s historically black Land-grant Universities. This funding, part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) 1890 Institution Teaching, Research, and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program, aims to support scientific research addressing the nation’s toughest agricultural challenges.

“This spring semester, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting colleges across the country and speaking with students who will define the next generation of agriculture,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small in a USDA news release. “I’ve observed first-hand how the nation’s Land-grant Universities are preparing our students for a future that directly responds to the most pressing challenges in agriculture. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to make sure we have a Department and a good system that is ready for them.”

Deputy Secretary Small’s college tour included visits to 14 Land-grant institutions, emphasizing the importance of continued partnerships with the USDA to develop cutting-edge research and innovations. The tour highlighted the need to combat climate change, address nutrition insecurity and build a diverse agricultural workforce.

NIFA’s investment will fund 68 projects, enhancing the skills and diversity of the nation’s higher-education workforce. These projects will bolster scientific research, improve knowledge delivery systems and equip 1890 Land-grant Universities with resources to tackle emerging challenges and create new opportunities.

“1890 Land-grant Universities are a vital part of our nation’s fabric,” said NIFA director Manjit Misra in the release. “This investment will strengthen the ability of 1890 Land-grant Universities to deliver innovative solutions that address emerging agricultural challenges impacting diverse communities. Building the research and training capacity of the nation’s universities is critical as they continue to develop and guide the next generation of agricultural leaders.”

Highlighted Projects

  • Fort Valley State University, Georgia: Establishing a transgene-free CRISPR/Cas-mediated genome editing system to enhance the hardiness of Rhizoma peanut crops.
  • North Carolina A&T State University: Strengthening food science education with a new course in chocolate science, providing hands-on learning experiences.
  • South Carolina State University: Building digital commerce capabilities for small agricultural producers through an integrated teaching, research, and Extension model.
  • Southern University Agricultural and Mechanical College, Louisiana: Increasing student interest in STEAM fields with a mobile lab targeting disadvantaged areas.
  • Virginia State University: Studying the nutritional profile of ginger to help prevent obesity, linking farm and laboratory research to practical applications.

Overall, NIFA invested $528 million in fiscal year 2023 in various institutions, with $353.3 million specifically for 1890 land-grant universities.

For more information, visit USDA’s 1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program website.