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USDA Invests $70 Million in Agricultural Projects

National Institute of Food and Agriculture aims to enhance sustainability, boost production and reduce ag’s environmental impact.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announces a significant investment in innovative agricultural projects. These projects aim to enhance sustainability, boost production, and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has allocated $70 million to seven agricultural projects aimed at transforming the U.S. food and agricultural system and reducing its environmental impact.

This 2023 investment is part of the Sustainable Agricultural Systems program within NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences in the nation.

The program addresses various research, education, and Extension needs, including agricultural workforce challenges, land stewardship, climate change impacts, and food and nutrition requirements.

“Agriculture is facing a multitude of complex challenges,” USDA chief scientist and under secretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young said in a USDA news release. “We need all hands on deck developing creative, sustainable and strategic ways to feed, clothe and fuel future generations.”

The $10 million awards are designated for coordinated agricultural projects (CAPs), which integrate research, education, and Extension efforts. These projects promote collaboration, information exchange, and reduce duplication of efforts by coordinating activities among individuals, institutions, states, and regions.

“These research investments support exciting projects that integrate innovative systems-based thinking, methods and technologies to establish robust, resilient, and climate-smart food and agricultural systems,” NIFA director Manjit Misra said. “These visionary projects will improve the local and regional supply of affordable, safe, nutritious and accessible food and agricultural products, while fostering economic development and rural prosperity in America.”

Examples of the funded projects include:

  • At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Erin Silva collaborates with the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Coalition, the Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council, and the Menominee Nation on a project to expand traditional Indigenous food production practices by enhancing production, processing, storage and distribution systems, as well as education and Extension programs.
  • At the University of Maine, Hemant Pendse leads a project to advance the bioeconomy by developing biorefinery technologies that make low-grade woody biomass more commercially viable for sustainable aviation fuel and fish feed sectors.
  • At Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Muthu Bagavathiannan’s project aims to make cotton production in the southern U.S. more sustainable and climate-smart by improving precision management practices, increasing carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing pest control, and addressing labor challenges.