The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced that it is investing in research on the impact of COVID-19 on American agriculture. Last week, NIFA opened its request for applications on research or extension activities that focus on developing and deploying rapid, reliable, and readily adoptable COVID-19 agricultural strategies across the food and agriculture enterprise. Through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, NIFA will invest up to $9 million for research in the following areas: : health and security of livestock; food and food processing; well-being of farm workforce, food service providers, and rural Americans; and economic security. Applications are due June 4, 2020.
“Keeping the agricultural workforce healthy and our nation’s food supply safe is a top priority for USDA,” said Scott Angle, NIFA Director. “The entire country depends on the jobs that these agricultural workers do, from farm to fork, to ensure a robust agricultural food supply. The systems that our agricultural workforce manages and the products they produce literally sustain both our bodies and our nation’s economy.”
NIFA is using an expedited solicitation, evaluation, and grant-making process to quickly deploy funding on COVID-19 agricultural research. In turn, the agency will only fund projects designed to swiftly fill knowledge and information gaps; strengthen and support critical cross-cutting issues to protect the food and agriculture supply chain, livestock health and security, the safety of our foods; as well as research projects that focus on the well-being of farm, food service providers, and rural Americans. “Every step must be rapid,” said Angle, “so we can use agricultural sciences to mitigate this crisis.”
In response to the current Pandemic, NIFA also set a deadline of May 21, 2020, for COVID-19 research proposals from all other areas in the wide-ranging AFRI request for applications (RFA). NIFA also re-opened its Small Business Innovation Research RFA to search for COVID-19 solutions from small businesses. NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension, and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs support scientists and extension personnel whose work results in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries. These discoveries combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability, and ensure food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit https://nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts