USDA announces Ag & Food Research Initiative grant recipients

By Erin Voegele | April 12, 2011

The USDA has awarded more than $36 million in grants to 42 bioenergy and biobased products research programs under the department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The announcement was made by NIFA Director Roger Beachy on April 12 at the 16th 1890 Biennial Research Symposium in Atlanta. According to the USDA, the funding will spur production of bioenergy and biobased products, leading to the development of sustainable regional systems and jobs.

"USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also boost rural economies," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create coproducts that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy. This will propel us to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build in the field of renewable energy and help America win the future."

The grant recipients were selected through a highly competitive process that included an external peer review panel, which reviewed all proposals and made award decisions based on scientific merit. Awardees’ projects focus on three areas: crop production for sustainable feedstock production systems, enhanced value coproduct development, and carbon sequestration and sustainable bioenergy production.

According to the USDA, the grants were awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. AFRI, which was established by the 2008 Farm Bill, is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program. It supports work in six areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

At least one project that focuses exclusively on biodiesel was awarded a grant under this round of funding. A research team at Michigan State University received $957,582 to support a project that aims to develop a cost-effective succinate fermentation process to help increase the sustainability of biodiesel production. In addition, the University of Idaho has been awarded $599,210 to create enhanced-value products from oilseeds. 


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