The projects are aimed at improving a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.
The financing is made under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program, with US colleges, universities and other research organizations eligible for the grants.
The spend represents the third release of grants under that program, which is designed to improve plant and animal production and sustainability, as well as human and environmental health.
Tom Vilsack, secretary at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), said the US agricultural sector is facing critical issues like food insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, and market disruption, and to take on such challenges requires investment. “This is the time for agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to act.”
Irrigation, hemp and algae projects
Examples of the 15 projects being funded include a University of California study, with the researchers and their partners aiming to alleviate groundwater over-use and sustain irrigated agriculture in southwestern US. They are looking to develop innovative education programs and novel extension programming to support sustainable groundwater and irrigated agricultural systems. The project is backed by a grant valued at $10m
Another $10m grant was awarded to the Central State University and its multidisciplinary team, which are investigating hemp as an aquaculture feed ingredient. They primarily want to address food safety concerns about consuming seafood raised with hemp feed additives. They will also research ways to increase economic markets and production sustainability for seafood and hemp.
A Colby College partnership project will compare and optimize algae feed additives for dairy cows, and will assess the impact at the animal-, farm- and community-level. The project will include the development of integrated public outreach programs to enhance milk production, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and recover nutrients. Again the project received $10m in funds.