The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced nearly $9 million in grants for research into issues affecting plant breeding and production, leading to improvements in plants that are critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of American agriculture.

“As plants play a vital role in the success of the national and global economy, it is crucial we study plant breeding and genomics and innovative approaches to plant improvement and protection,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “The knowledge gained from the work funded today will allow us to successfully face challenges in food security, bioenergy, climate change and increasing global competition.”

The awards were made under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program priority area of plant breeding for agricultural production. The funded projects focus on classical breeding to include cultivar development, prebreeding and germplasm enhancement, related – species introgression and novel approaches to phenotyping, among other areas.

Fiscal Year 2013 grants include:

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $402,500
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $500,000
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $400,000
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif., $450,000
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $500,000
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $450,000
  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., $450,000
  • Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., $304,042
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $500,000
  • Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., $500,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $500,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $450,000
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, N.D., $150,000
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $500,000
  • North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $304,042
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $450,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $500,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Albany, Calif., $500,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Ill., $500,000
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Pullman, Wash., $500,000

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The AFRI Foundational Program addresses six priority areas to continue building a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges. The six priority areas include: 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.

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. More information is available at: