USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) this week released information about its request for application process that will ultimately award $262 million in competitive grant funding from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
NIFA was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to be an agriculture research body similar to the National Institutes of Health and to replace the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).
A cornerstone of the new agency is AFRI, a competitive grants program authorized to receive up to $700 million per year in federal funding. The program was actually appropriated $262.4 million in the FY2010 process, a major increase over past years, and will focus work in six areas, including plant health and production; animal health and production; food safety and nutrition, renewable energy and environmental concerns; agriculture systems and technologies; and agriculture economics and rural communities.
AFRI’s request this week is seeking proposals related to five “societal challenge areas” in which NIFA leaders believe research can contribute to “significant and measurable outcomes”. These areas include childhood obesity prevention, climate change, food safety, global food security and sustainable bioenergy, but are defined broadly.
USDA said many of the awards designated as targeting societal challenge will be larger in size and longer in duration than awards in previous years, with funding available of up to $45 million over a five-year award period. Some grants will also be eligible for renewal upon achieving specific goals, particularly those projects that involve multiple institutions and include both research and application through an extension or education program.
Much more information about the proposal process is accessible at www.nifa.usda.gov/afri and at www.grants.gov. USDA said in its announcement that it will also provide Webinars on each proposal area and that applicants interested in the AFRI funding process are encouraged to contact NIFA at (202) 401-5022 or AFRI@nifa.usda.gov.