USDA awards grants to 76 small businesses

By Spencer Chase

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 - Some 76 small businesses in 35 states will split $7.4 million in USDA funding for research projects related to agricultural issues, food security and natural resources.

USDA said the grants are being made through the department's Small Business Innovation Research program and administered by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. In a release, USDA said the funding is designed to “encourage domestic small businesses to engage in high-growth research and development that has the potential for commercialization and could lead to significant public benefit,”

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Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Vilsack said the grants were part of an “administration-wide effort to assist small business innovation and research.”

“I'm excited about the fact that agriculture generally has been one of the more innovative aspects of our economy,” Vilsack said. “We've seen incredible productivity over the course of my lifetime in agriculture and it's, in part, spurred by innovation.”

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Vilsack added that he hopes the grants will allow ideas for innovation “to potentially get up to scale, to get commercial sized, and to get out in the market place.”

Projects range from a new method for drying hay to developing more precise ways to track livestock through radio frequency identification to visual recognition technology for pests in crop scouting.

Applications are currently being accepted for the next round of SBIR program funding through Oct. 6.

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