Applied agricultural and natural resources research in Wisconsin will get a big boost in the next four years because College of Agricultural and Life Sciences researchers and extension specialists at University of Wisconsin-Madison scored high in a new U.S. Department of Agriculture grants competition.
Eight Wisconsin projects were awarded $6.6 million through a recently funded USDA competitive grants program that integrates research, education and extension efforts. The new program, called the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS), awarded grants nationally totaling $113 million.
“We are pleased that Wisconsin projects make up 9 percent of the 86 projects funded and will receive nearly 6 percent of the total funding awarded,” said Elton Aberle, dean of CALS. Some awards will be administered by the UW and eventually will fund projects elsewhere. Wisconsin researchers submitted 43 of nearly 1,000 proposals sent to USDA in the national competition.
“This clearly demonstrates that our faculty members are willing to do the kind of applied, problem-solving research that farmers and our rural economy need,” Aberle added. “Unfortunately, funding for this more applied type of agricultural and natural resources research has been in extremely short supply both at the state and federal levels.”
Only five states – California, Florida, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin – will administer grants of more than $5 million each. The competition emphasized multi-state and multi-institution grants. Wisconsin was lead state or contractor on eight funded project proposals.
Until Congressional action last Friday (Oct. 6), considerable uncertainty existed about IFAFS funding. The bill still awaits final Congressional approval and the President”s signature.
“The types of research and extension projects funded were as impressive as our success rate,” Aberle said. “The projects selected address some of today”s most crucial issues.”
Wisconsin IFAFS Projects:
* Johne’s Disease – George Shook, Department of Dairy Science, is a cooperator in a project that is examining genetic resistance to Johne’s disease, also known as paratuberculosis . He received $477,220 to investigate the disease, which is causing serious problems for Wisconsin dairy producers.
* Livestock Waste Handling and Nutrient Cycling – Two Wisconsin projects are funded in this area. Gary Jackson, Department of Soil Science, will lead one titled “Partnerships for Livestock Environment Management Assessment Systems.” Jackson”s project will administer a grant of $2,509,693, which will fund projects at several locations. Mark Powell, Soil Science and the Agricultural Research Service, will lead another project on dairy farm integrated nutrient management (funded at $891,174).
* Profitability of Small and Moderate Sized Farms – Two of Wisconsin”s projects have also been funded in this area. Gary Frank, interim director of the Center for Dairy Profitability, will participate in a multi-state project interpreting financial data from small farms (funded at $257,047). Steve Stevenson, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, will cooperate in another project titled “The North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability” (funded at $180,240).
* Biotechnology Impacts – Brad Barham, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, will be a major partner in a project addressing the social, economic and ethical aspects of biotechnology. His proposal received $778,316.
* Improved Nutritional Quality – Sherry Tanumihardjo, Department of Nutritional Sciences, will be a cooperator in a project investigating potential nutritional enhancement of carrots with unusual pigments (funded at $195,600).
* Plant Genomics – Richard Amasino, Department of Biochemistry, will be a lead researcher in a study developing genetic mapping tools and resources that will be useful in improving understanding of genetic controls of plant development and growth. The study received $1,350,000.
“Although eight of our 43 project proposals received funding, we have 35 more projects on our list worthy of consideration for federal funding support. Wisconsin agricultural leaders have urged Congress to find a way to continue support for this applied agricultural research,” Aberle said. “Our Wisconsin Congressional leaders have been supportive of agricultural research and education programs.
“It is important to Wisconsin farm families and those throughout the country that funding for this type of research and education program continue,” he added.