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AFRI’s Foundational RFA Open to Research on Sustainable AgricultureNational Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Soybeans ready for testing seed viability at the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation at the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO, on September 16, 2016 USDA photo by Neil Palmer.

AFRI’s Foundational RFA Open to Research on Sustainable Agriculture

Might 24, 2019

AFRI’s Foundational program invests in research, schooling, and extension tasks that help more sustainable, productive, and economically viable agricultural techniques. Photograph Credit: USDA (Neil Palmer)

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the most important federal agricultural analysis competitive grant program, launched its Request for Purposes (RFA) for its Foundational and Utilized Science Program for the fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The purpose of AFRI’s “Foundational” program is to spend money on research, schooling, and extension tasks that help extra sustainable, productive, and economically viable agricultural techniques. Particularly, the program’s focus is to drive innovation to enhance farm effectivity, sustainability, rural communities, human vitamin, in addition to mitigating meals waste and advancing classical breeding.

For 2019,
NIFA estimates $192.585 million shall be out there for each FY2019 and
FY2020 for the foundational and applied science program. While the FY2020 RFA
is being launched concurrently with FY2019, the precise funding degree for FY2020
will probably be determined only after the enactment of the agricultural appropriations bill
for FY2020 later this yr.

The Foundational and Applied Sciences RFA follows the discharge of the Sustainable Agriculture Techniques RFA which can award 9 grants of up to $10 million each round giant scale, integrated tasks that tackle system approaches to rework sustainable agriculture within the U.S. Whereas the Sustainable Agriculture Techniques program focuses on transdisciplinary science for agricultural methods, the Foundational and Utilized Science program prioritizes smaller, specialised tasks around quite a lot of disciplines.

As in previous
years, Foundational and Applied funds are awarded to tasks for durations up to
5 years. Funding across the most important research areas are the same as final yr
except for the “crosscutting” program which acquired a rise of
$10.585 million. The program’s six overarching priorities are funded as

  • Plant well being and production and
    plant products – $43.9 million
  • Animal well being and manufacturing and
    animal merchandise – $36.eight million
  • Meals security, vitamin, and
    health – $26.2 million
  • Bioenergy, natural assets,
    and surroundings – $21.7 million
  • Agriculture techniques and
    know-how -$19.5 million
  • Agriculture economics and rural
    communities – $22.9 million

Every of the
six priority areas accommodates sub-priorities that each one align with the strategic
objectives of the AFRI program. There’s also a seventh area, Crosscutting packages, funded at $21.585 million, which is meant
for built-in tasks that crosscut two or more of the opposite listed precedence

following are a number of highlighted program areas of specific interest to NSAC in
this FY2019 and FY2020 RFA:

Plant Well being and Manufacturing and Plant

progress of agricultural positive factors around crop manufacturing is the primary aim of the Plant Well being and Production and Plant
Merchandise research precedence area. Analysis to develop new know-how and
tools to further improve plant agriculture, together with new traits, integration
of manufacturing methods, and improved stewardship of pure assets are sought.

There are six analysis subjects underneath the Plant Well being and Manufacturing and
Plant Merchandise program: (a) Foundational Information of Agricultural
Manufacturing Methods (b) Foundational Information of Plant Products, (c) Pests and
Useful Species in Agricultural Production Techniques (d) Physiology of
Agricultural Crops. (e) Plant Breeding for Agricultural Manufacturing (f)
Pollinator Health: Analysis and Software.

For FY2019, there are three new program area priorities within this analysis area. These new areas embrace tasks that slender gaps in meals and agricultural defenses, initiatives to broaden gene modifying for crops, and enhancing information of plant merchandise. In addition to the brand new additions, this research precedence additionally supports agricultural micro-biomes and plant-biotic interactions.

A key sub-subprogram of specific interest to
NSAC is public plant breeding:

Plant Breeding for Agricultural Manufacturing– FY2019 deadline July 18, 2019; FY2020 deadline March 19, 2020

Plant breeding analysis to help crop productiveness, high quality, and performance in native and regional soils and climates is the main target of this program priority. Beneath this class research should tackle one of many following:

– Plant breeding research
(Funding cap $500,000);
– Later levels of cultivar improvement (Funding cap $300,000);
– Crop breeding innovation hubs (Funding cap $1,000,000), and
– Excessive-intensity phenotyping sites (Funding cap $three,000,000).

Further, NIFA, in
collaboration with numerous commodity boards, can also be soliciting proposals
around germplasm enhancement and cultivar improvement of wild wheat and potato species,
in addition to phenotyping of untamed peanut.

Bioenergy, Natural Assets, and Setting                                                

The Bioenergy, Natural Assets, and Setting
program space strives to advertise, enhance, and keep healthy agroecosystems
important to the long-term production of agricultural methods. Tasks are
“highly encouraged” to associate with present analysis networks such because the
Long-Term Agroecosystem Analysis Network (LTAR), the Lengthy-Time period Ecological
Analysis (LTER), National Agricultural Library Ag Knowledge Commons, and others.
There are several sub program areas beneath this research precedence of keen
curiosity to NSAC including:

Soil Health – FY2019 deadline August 1, 2019, FY2020 deadline April 2, 2020

  • Tasks should concentrate on understanding soil health processes to advertise sustainable agriculture manufacturing together with boosting better yields and income, together with sequestering more carbon, growing water infiltration, enhancing pollinator and wildlife habitat. Funding cap $500,000.

Water Amount and Quality – FY2019 deadline August 1, 2019, FY2020 deadline April 2, 2020

  • Research that identifies nontraditional water irrigation practices, ecosystem providers, and making certain the quality of water availability is encouraged. Funding cap $500,000.

Sustainable Agroecosystems: Health, Features, Processes and Management – FY2019 deadline August 8, 2019, FY2020 deadline April 9, 2020

  • Analysis tasks should concentrate on enchancment in ecosystem system health and productivity in managed natural methods that lead to improvements in soil health and ecosystem providers. Funding cap $500,000.                                                              

Agriculture Economies and Rural Communities              

The Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities
(AERC) program area seems at financial and social science research to assist in
decision-making, policy, and implementation to promote rural economies, quality
of life, and pure assets. This interdisciplinary program additionally focuses on
commodity insurance policies, crop insurance, as well as meals safety and market
preferences. Particular sub-program areas embrace we pay shut consideration to are:

Small and Medium-Sized Farms – FY2019 deadline July 18, 2019; FY2020 deadline March 5, 2020.

  • Tasks ought to handle points round improvement and adoption of fashions to assist on-farm decision-making relating to strategies to improve financial effectivity, viability, and competitiveness of small and medium-sized dairy, poultry, livestock, crop, and other operations. Funding cap $500,000.        

Rural Financial Improvement – FY2019 deadline August 15, 2019; FY2020 deadline April 16, 2020                                                                                                        

  • Research should prioritize understanding the elements and circumstances that assist strengthen economic opportunities for food, agriculture and rural business, with particular give attention to ladies and minority teams. Funding cap $500,000.                         

As talked about, along with the six priority
research areas of this RFA, the
Crosscutting program funds
tasks that tackle two or extra of the six precedence areas. As an example, the Agricultural Innovation via Gene Modifying
focus area beneath the Crosscutting program awards up to $300,000 to tasks
that overcome technological obstacles and increase using gene modifying
know-how in minor agricultural crops, weedy crops, animals or microbes.
Software deadlines for Crosscutting tasks depend upon the sub-priority
analysis area.                            

and NSAC Suggestions

NSAC is pleased to see the continued give attention to
analysis to help the growth and financial success of rural communities
together with small and medium-sized farms, and plant breeding research, all of
which NSAC has beforehand beneficial the agency elevate as analysis
priorities. For FY2019, the RFA designates soil health as a standalone research
priority beneath the BNRE program. The soil well being precedence won’t only
examine the influence of well being soil but in addition analyze microbiome and soil
well being indicators.

Analysis on the impacts of local weather variability on
sustainable agriculture techniques continues to be not given its own priority although
it’s included throughout this system areas plant health and manufacturing,
pollinator analysis, as well as the pure useful resource packages. We’ll proceed
to encourage designating this important research space as a standalone precedence.

Through the years NSAC has urged the company to differentiate plant breeding research to make sure a good distribution of funding and outcomes across applied and primary plant breeding analysis. This yr, the RFA will award distinct plant breeding related tasks: primary plant breeding research (pre-breeding, germplasm enhancement, phenomics, and so on), later stage cultivar improvement (testing and analysis of regional traits), in addition to crop breeding hubs and phenotyping websites which are larger regional, community-based knowledge era and area analysis. That is an enchancment to the best way plant breeding analysis has been funded and we’ll continue to work with NIFA to further refine the research needs of this program space.


and schools, federal businesses, personal organizations, and different analysis
institutions are eligible for AFRI awards with the execption of packages that
request integrated tasks combining two or more elements from amongst
analysis, schooling, and extension/outreach, which USDA is continues to limit
to high schools and universities only. NSAC continues to urge USDA to return into
compliance with the statute and make AFRI absolutely aggressive, with all packages,
including these requesting built-in packages, open to all AFRI eligible
entities and invididuals. Sadly, USDA continues to insist on maintaining integrated
tasks restricted moderately than absolutely aggressive and based mostly solely on benefit.

are reviewed in a two-part course of. The first process includes screening
purposes for people who meet the requirements set in the RFA, while the
second is a peer-review process to technically evaluate proposals. Here,
purposes are set earlier than a assessment panel composed of scientists and different
practitioners in research, extension, and schooling fields.

Deadlines for the varied program areas of this RFA fall between July and September, and a few precedence areas require a letter of intent. All info associated to dates and priority area-specific funding might be discovered within the Foundational RFA Document.

For extra detailed info on AFRI, together with eligibility and details on how you can apply, please see NSAC’s Grassroots Information on AFRI.

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