BROOKINGS, S.D., Feb. 27, 2013—Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited South Dakota State University today to announce more than $75 million in grants for research, education and extension activities to address food security challenges.  

The awards were made to teams at 21 U.S. universities to conduct research that will find solutions to increasing food availability and decreasing the number of food insecure individuals. Merrigan announced the awards at the university's campus in Brookings, S.D., with university president David L. Chicoine and Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

"The grants announced today will help policymakers and others better recognize the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities in our country, while improving the productivity of our nation's agriculture to meet those needs,” Merrigan said. “Globally, the population is expected to grow by more than 2 billion people by 2050. By investing in the science of America's renowned land-grant universities, our aim is to find sustainable solutions to help systems expand to meet the demands of growing populations."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) made the awards through the 2012 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's (AFRI) Food Security program.

This year's funded projects include research at South Dakota State University to examine community efforts to encourage healthy food choices; research at Purdue University to develop new strategies to defend against ear rot diseases in corn. Scientists at the University of Tennessee will identify ways to improve milk quality in the Southeast and enhance the sustainability of the Southeast dairy industry. A team at the University of California in Berkeley will work with tribal groups in the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California to build sustainable regional food systems to aid in enhancing tribal health and food security.

AFRI is NIFA's competitive grants program established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The five AFRI Challenge Areas include food safety, global food security, childhood obesity prevention, sustainable bioenergy and climate adaptation.


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