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USDA Invests in Research to Address Food Security

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited South Dakota State University to announce more than $75 million in grants for research, education and extension activities to ensure greater food security in the United States and around the world.

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (USDA) — 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 ensure greater food security in the United States and around the world. 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.

"Millions of American households lack the resources to access sufficient food, and many of those, including our children, may go hungry at least once this year," said Merrigan. "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. 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. The program supports research that will keep American agriculture competitive while helping to end world hunger, and focuses on achieving the long-term outcomes of increasing domestic and international food availability and food accessibility.

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.

Fiscal year 2012 awards include:

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $3,963,395
  • University of California, Berkeley, Calif., $3,997,212
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $3,750,000
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif., $416,130
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $26,000
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $410,906
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $5,349,650
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa $5,358,680
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $2,998,931
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $20,195
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $5,500,000
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $2,925,456
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,989,032
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,913,199
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., $3,997,207
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $2,997,040
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $3,730,635
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $1,166,650
  • State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., $3,965,003
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., $3,971,568
  • Pennsylvania State University, University, Park, Pa., $420,000
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $3,964,611
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $3,000,000
  • Texas AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas, $2,977,638
  • Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $1,141,005
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $2,984,255
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $33,400
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, Fla., $419,631

AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The five AFRI Challenge Areas—food safety, global food security, childhood obesity prevention, sustainable bioenergy and climate adaptation—advance fundamental sciences and deliver science-based knowledge to people, allowing them to make informed practical decisions.

These grants complement numerous efforts by USDA and partners to end hunger. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act President Obama signed into law in 2010 is a significant investment in our children and efforts to end childhood hunger. The Act expanded the at-risk meals program (CACFP) which provides supper and after-school snacks to low-income children in all states. The Act also makes it easier for children to receive free meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs through more expansive direct certification and community eligibility using existing data sources. USDA oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit