AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program

The AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program focuses on building a foundation of fundamental and applied knowledge in food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges.


The AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program supports grants in six priority areas:

The program supports single-function research, and integrated research, education and/or extension projects as standard, conference, and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) grants.




Recent advances in genomics, metabolomics, and transcriptomic have paved the way in the development of gene editing technologies across many species. The use of gene editing may accelerate breeding to generate beneficial traits or eliminate unwanted traits in plants, microbes, and animals for improving the efficiency, resilience, and sustainability of agricultural production. The goal is to support high-risk and potentially transformative projects that expands the use of gene editing technology to agriculturally-important minor crops, weedy plants, animals, and associated microbes.  


Microbiome research is critical for improving agricultural productivity, sustainability of agricultural ecosystems, and safety of the food supply. Understanding the multipartite interactions among the host, environment, and the microbiome is critical for improving and sustaining agricultural productivity and quality in plant systems, associated natural resources, human nutrition and health. Plant productivity includes biotic factors affecting plant health such as either pests, diseases or vectors as well as abiotic factors. The goal is to help fill major knowledge gaps in characterizing agricultural microbiomes and microbiome functions across agricultural production systems, and natural resources through crosscutting projects.  


Despite prior investments in basic and applied research, critical problems continue to impede the efficient production and protection of agriculturally-important plants and animals. These problems may be local, regional, or national; often call for work in one or more scientific disciplines; and need immediate attention to meet producer needs. Finding solutions to these critical problems requires partnership and close coordination among researchers, extension experts, and producers. CARE projects are designed to yield solutions or practices that can be rapidly implemented to meet pressing needs limiting agricultural production.  


The FACT Initiative seeks to catalyze activities that harness big data for synthesizing new knowledge, making predictive decisions, and fostering data-supported innovation in agriculture.

FACT Projects are designed to examine the value of data for small and large farmers, as well as the agricultural and food industries. They help to understand how data can impact the agricultural supply chain, reduce food waste and loss, improve consumer health, environmental and natural resource management, affect the structure of U.S. food and agriculture sectors, and increase U.S. competitiveness. In support of the Executive Order for Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (, the FACT program area priority is particularly seeking projects that apply artificial intelligence and machine learning for monitoring, analytics, and automation in precision crop agriculture and precision livestock farming.  


Given the complexity of social, cultural, environmental, economic, and technologic challenges facing the food and agriculture system in the United States, broader views at the intersection among multiple disciplines are essential. This will spur creativity, inspire innovation, and develop solutions. The goal is to bridge traditional disciplinary divides and address complex issues in animal agriculture. This will require new interdisciplinary work anchored in animal and veterinary medical sciences to support food and agriculture production.  


The goal is to increase our national capacity to prevent, rapidly detect, and respond to biological threats to the U.S. agriculture and food supply. The projects aimed at increasing agricultural biosecurity at the regional and national levels, and across the public and private sectors will be supported. Addressing the vulnerabilities of our nation’s food and agricultural system requires a concerted effort, sustained investment, and a coordinated strategy that protects the U.S. food and agriculture system against threats from pests, diseases, contaminants, and disasters.

Program Type:
Grant Program
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