USDA Announces $4 Million in Awards for Non-Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, Availability of $4.5 Million for 2016

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced $4 million in competitive awards and $4.6 million available in 2016 to support research, education and outreach activities at non-land-grant colleges and universities to further agricultural research and teaching. 
 
“To meet the challenges the United States and the world faces as the global population grows will require contributions from diverse, qualified scientists,” said NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “These projects and programs will enhance the educational experience of students at non-land-grant institutions and help them create the needed solutions.”
 
These grants are awarded through the Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA) program, which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The NLGCA Program focuses on improving research, outreach, and postsecondary level educational activities related to food, agriculture, natural and renewable resources, human sciences and other similar disciplines. NLGCA will also support the economic vitality of rural communities by funding new degree programs that emphasize new and emerging employment opportunities.
 
Fiscal year 2015 grants include:
  • California State University, Fresno, Calif., $150,000
  • Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kan., $701,072
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich., $299,998
  • Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., $297,584
  • Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., $549,411
  • University of Tennessee, Martin, Tenn., $146,910
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., $714,023
  • Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, $294,084
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, $149,948
  • University of Wisconsin, Platteville, Wisc., $300,000
  • University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wisc., $149,997
  • University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wisc., $562,473 
 
Some examples of projects from this year include an initiative from California State University to familiarize undergraduate students with real-world research, stimulating an interest in research-oriented careers in agricultural science.  A project from Middle Tennessee State University will utilize collaborative research projects as the foundation for enhancing educational capacity across several agricultural institutions. Information about all of the projects can be found on the NIFA website.
 
The $4.65 million in funds available for fiscal year 2016 will be awarded to projects that apply and go through a competitive grants process. Projects should address the goals of the NLGCA program, which are to 1) strengthen the capacity of NLGCA institutions to develop infrastructure to carry out agricultural research, teaching and outreach activities; 2) enhance the ability of NLGCA faculty to engage in agricultural professional development opportunities; and 3) increase the number, quality, and diversity of qualified graduates entering the food and agriculture workforce.
 
Applications are due April 22. Applicants are required to request and receive certification from NIFA that they meet the requirements of being a non-land-grant college of agriculture. A list of certified institutions is available online. See the request for applications on the NIFA website for more information.
 
A May 2015 report released by NIFA and Purdue University showed that there is tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs, with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States. Meanwhile, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually. The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent, and 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services.
 
The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
 
Since 2009, NIFA has invested in and advanced innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.