USDA Announces $14 Million in Grants Supporting Economic Growth for Rural Communities

Randall Weiseman Florida, General, Georgia, Industry News Release

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced nearly $14 million in grants to support four programs to increase prosperity in rural America through research, education, and extension programs focused on promoting rural community development, economic growth, and sustainability.

“Nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas, and their value and impact through the agriculture industry can be felt both domestically and internationally,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “To help these communities remain prosperous and viable, we need to support discovery of new ways that promote economic viability among producers, small businesses, and communities in rural America.”

Farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are the backbone and economic lifeblood for Americans everywhere, providing food, feed, fiber, fuels, and open spaces. However, rural areas and communities face many hardships. High poverty rates, slow recovery from economic recession, and low average income per household are all challenges to having a successful and viable community. Funding from NIFA is expected to assist communities and regions in creating self-sustaining, long-term economic development through research and strategic planning.

A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website for the following projects selected for awards in each AFRI program:

Rural Communities and Regional Development:
• Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $499,998
• University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $474,998
• University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $499,287
• Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., $499,789
• University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $498,943
• Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $474,190
• Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $499,374
• University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $499,994

Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities – Environment:
• University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $500,000
• Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $500,000
• Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $499,976
• University of Nevada, Reno, Nev., $498,393
• University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I., $463,096
• University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I., $47,882
• Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., $313,557

Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities – Economics, Markets and Trade:
• University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., $399,867
• University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $49,600
• Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $499,709
• Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa., $245,131
• Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $500,000
• Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio., $494,547
• Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $485,414
• University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis., $379,234
• University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., $149,858

NIFA also provided funds through the Small and Medium-sized Farm program, which provides farmers and ranchers assistance in their decision making with respect to management strategies, new technologies, sustainability, competitiveness, and viability. Funded projects focus on developing new disciplinary or multidisciplinary models to assist agricultural landowner’s decision-making in scale management strategies and technologies to enhance economic efficiency and sustainability. This includes the viability and competitiveness of small and medium-sized dairy, poultry, livestock, crop, forestry, and other commodity operations.

Fiscal year 2014 Small and Medium-Sized Farms include:
• University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., $499,978
• Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $471,462
• Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $499,995
• University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $499,380
• Alcorn State University, Lorman, Miss., $499,794
• Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $384,913
• Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $499,996
• University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $499,978

NIFA made the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Foundational Program, which supports projects that sustain and enhance agricultural and related activities in rural areas and to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and alleviate poverty. Topical issues include, but are not limited to, the interactions between agriculture, environment, and communities in rural areas; demographic changes and impacts; consumer preferences or behavior; decision-making under uncertainty; market structure and performance; policy design and impact; or agriculture’s impact on the environment.

The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) 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. For more information, visit