Dr. John P. Holdren, President Obama's science and technology adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Feb. 3 to announce the award of $30.1 million in competitive grants to fund 80 research projects to improve food safety, reduce antibiotic resistance in food, and increase the resilience of plants in the face of climate change.
"In the face of diminishing land and water resources and increasingly variable climatic conditions, food production must increase to meet the demands of world population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050," Vilsack said. "Funding in research to respond to these challenges should be considered as an investment in our nation's future, an investment which will pay big dividends in the years to come."
The grants are made possible through USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation's premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences.
"Science, technology and innovation are essential to meeting virtually every challenge our nation faces, which is why the administration has consistently supported increasing federal investments in R&D," Holdren said.
In addition to the awards made today, Vilsack and Holdren announced the president's 2017 budget will invest a total of $700 million for AFRI, the fully authorized funding level established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.
In the seven years since AFRI was established, the program has led to innovations and ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety.
"Further strengthening our investments in agricultural research will be essential for U.S. farmers to be able to keep the nation's food supply abundant, healthy, reliable and sustainable through the 21st century,” Holdren said.