USDA awards almost $16M in research grants

By Whitney Forman-Cook

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WASHINGTON, May 4, 2016 - USDA announced Wednesday it will grant $15.6 million to universities for research, education and extension programs that the department says will benefit rural America.

“Nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas, and their value and impact through the agriculture industry can be felt both domestically and internationally,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release. “To help these communities remain prosperous and viable, we need to support discovery of new ways that promote economic viability among producers, small businesses, and communities in rural America.”

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The funding will be granted through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program, which is notoriously over-subscribed, USDA says.

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Over $3.1 million of the AFRI grant money will be awarded to schools for projects involving rural entrepreneurship and community development, just over $3 million will go to projects dealing with economics and the environment, and over $4.7 million is meant for projects that address market and trade economics.

NIFA will also provide over $4.7 million in grants through its Small and Medium-sized Farm program, which helps farmers and ranchers improve the viability and competitiveness of these operations.

In all, funding was announced for 35 projects.

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