USDA puts up $6M to fight antimicrobial resistance

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 2, 2016 - Researchers who study antibiotic resistance now have access to another $6 million, thanks to USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the department announced Monday.

“Through our Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics, and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release. “The research projects funded through this announcement will help us succeed in our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health.”

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USDA says the funding will also support implementation of the Combating Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (CARB) National Action Plan, which was released in March 2015. In early April of this year, the authors of that plan evaluated federal agencies' efforts to limit antibiotic resistance across different benchmarks. USDA was praised for its research on antibiotic resistance, but criticized for failing to implement on-farm surveillance of antibiotic usage and resistance.


Grant applications are due Aug. 3 and must address one or more of the following objectives:
  • Develop novel ways to investigate the ecology of microbial resistance microbes and gene reservoirs in the environment, in animals, in crops, in food products or in farm-raised aquaculture products.
  • Develop, evaluate, and implement effective and sustainable resources and strategies, to include alternative practices, techniques, technologies or tools that mitigate emergence, spread or persistence of antimicrobial resistant pathogens within the agricultural ecosystem, in animals, in crops and in food.
  • Identify critical control points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in the pre- and post-harvest food production environment.
  • Design innovative training, education and outreach resources (including web-based resources) that can be adapted by users across the food chain, including policy makers, producers, processors, retailers and consumers.
  • Design and conduct studies that evaluate the impact and efficacy of proposed research, education and extension/outreach interventions on antimicrobial resistance across the food chain, from primary producers to primary consumers.


NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative has granted more than $82 million for extension and food safety research since 2009, according to USDA. In fiscal 2015, the program granted $3.4 million for antimicrobial resistance research, including a State University of New York project that evaluated critical control points in dairy farm operations and a Texas A&M University project to develop science-based decision aids related to antibiotic stewardship.
 


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