The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced funding awards totaling nearly $19 million, including more than $6.7 million for antimicrobial resistance strategies, to 36 grantees to ensure a safe and nutritious food supply and while maintaining American agricultural competitiveness. NIFA made the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"Increasing food safety continues to be a major focus for USDA, as it directly impacts the health and well-being of all Americans," said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. "Funding provided to universities supports discoveries of new ways that we can prevent foodborne illnesses and increase the safety of our food production industry."
NIFA made the awards through the AFRI Food Safety program to protect consumers from microbial and chemical contaminants that may occur in the food chain, from production to consumption. This year, AFRI's Food Safety program is comprised of five sub-programs. The following projects have been selected for awards in each sub-program:
Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies
- University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Ark. $149,000
- Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $500,000
- University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $900,000
- University of California, Davis, Calif., $751,000
- Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $700,000
Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $749,838
- University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $2,193,556
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $2,250,000
- Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., $15,000
- Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $16,500
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., $750,000
- Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $749,993
Identifying and Targeting Food Safety Needs
- Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill., $50,000
Improving Food Safety
- University of Connecticut, Mansfield, Conn., $49,744
- University of South Florida, Tampa, Fl., $499,972
- Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., $499,968
- University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $499,516
- University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $150,000
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $499,567
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $500,000
- University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, Nev., $150,000
- Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $979,761
- North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $172,339
- The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $50,000
- University of California, Davis, Calif., $499,812
Improving Food Quality
- University of California, Davis, Calif., $498,356
- University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $499,652
- University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $248,408
- University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill., $861,714
- Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $465,694
- Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $420,685
- University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $46,293
- University of Maryland, Princess Anne, Md., $149,998
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $499,977
- Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $489,528
- West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V., $435,353
This year's projects include Washington State University's efforts to discover causes and solutions for AMR impact on dairy farms and calf-rearing ranches by researching the effects of different antibiotics on AMR prevalence, the existence of AMR reservoirs and niches, and the maintenance and spread of AMR throughout the farms and ranches. Tennessee State University researchers will focus on implementing a holistic roadmap for accelerating the innovation process in irradiation research, guiding technology development for contaminant treatment. West Virginia University researchers aim to develop innovative protein sources for the growing population by repurposing protein from underutilized resources, specifically the water-soluble proteins from fish processing byproducts that contain mineral, amino acid, and fatty acid profiles. A complete list of this year's project descriptions is available on the NIFA website.
Successful projects funded in previous years include a project at the University of Nebraska to reduce the occurrence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) along the entire beef production pathway, a development of microwave pasteurization technology at Washington State University to reduce pathogens and extend shelf-life of processed foods, efforts at the University of California-Davis to understand how pathogens survive on and infect fresh produce, and a project at Georgia Tech looking at new methods of Salmonella detection.
The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.
The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.