USDA seeks input on feed crop, animal health research topics

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ Olivier Le Moal
© GettyImages/ Olivier Le Moal
The USDA wants proposals for commodity board research projects and is also looking for co-funding partners for the agriculture related research.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has requested state- or federal-level commodity board input​ on research topics of interest.

Submissions are due by July 30, however, groups submitting topics also must be willing to co-fund research projects.

The projects proposed need to fit into an established priority area covered by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grant program during periods when applications are solicited, NIFA said.

Previous projects​ have included ones aimed at improving the production, quality or yield modeling of feed crops and ingredients.

Establishing a partnership with commodity boards makes NIFA more aware of the needs for members of the US agriculture industry, said Olivia Kwong, program specialist with NIFA. “Co-funding allows NIFA and commodity boards to support more research by combining resources,”​ she added.

“All eligible submitted topics undergo review by NIFA staff to ensure that they are in alignment with one or more of AFRI’s statutory priority areas as defined by the 2014 Farm Bill,”​ she told FeedNavigator.

Such areas include “plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; bioenergy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.”

Commodity board overview

To be eligible for the program, commodity boards need to address an agricultural commodity and have an element of promotion, industry information, research or consumer information activities; be funded by mandatory assessments, and be designed to support or grow markets and use for the commodity, said NIFA.

Commodity boards are organizations that “promote, research and share industry and consumer information,”​ said NIFA. They focus their efforts on specific agricultural products like corn, wheat, sorghum or soybeans.

US organizations eligible to submit topics for NIFA’s AFRI program includes the Beef Board, Fluid Milk Board, Dairy Board Sorghum Board, Soybean Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and the North Central Soybean Research Program, among others.

Submission process

Topics submitted for consideration need to be sent through a form​ provided by NIFA, the agency said.

Commodity boards have to agree to match the funding offered by NIFA for a project and the amount should not exceed $2.5m for a single project or $10m per commodity board.

Proposed research topics also will be screened by NIFA for eligibility and reviewed by the Agricultural Marketing Service, the agency said. They also will be evaluated by an internal review panel.

When a topic submitted by a commodity board has been selected an agreement is made and signed with that board and the topic is then incorporated into the related AFRI request for research applications, said Kwong.

“Commodity board topics are not separated from normal AFRI program areas, rather they are included in the appropriate program area priorities and applications for the topic are peer reviewed along with all other proposals submitted to that program area priority,”​ she added.

In 2018 11 topics from nine commodity board were included in the call for research proposals for foundational and applied science, she said.

Some of these include work with the Cattlemen’s beef promotion and research Board to explore links to public health outcomes from antibiotics fed during cattle production and work with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board on improving feed crop production.

“The commodity boards are not involved in the NIFA scientific peer review process which selects projects for funding, but they do work with applicants with proposals for their topics to present a letter of support to let NIFA know which projects they would be willing to co-fund,” ​said Kwong. “If that project(s) ranks highly enough to merit funding, then the commodity board co-funds it with NIFA.”

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