Sustainable Agricultural Systems awarding $10M per project

USDA NIFA has recently announced an opportunity for Sustainable Agricultural Systems awarding $10M per project. The amount available for new grants in this FY 2018 SAS RFA is $80 million.

The purpose of the SAS Program Area is to promote the sustainable supply of abundant, affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible food and other agricultural products, while enhancing economic opportunities and improving the long-term health and well-being of all Americans. This RFA solicits applications for projects focused on increasing agricultural productivity; optimizing water and nitrogen use efficiency; protecting yield losses from stresses, diseases, and pests; reducing food-borne diseases; and advancing development of biobased fuels, chemicals, and coproducts. This RFA is soliciting creative and visionary project applications that use transdisciplinary teams and integrated research, education, and extension activities to promote convergence of science and technology to solve present and future food and agricultural production system challenges.

For FY 2018, applications to the SAS RFA must focus on approaches that promote transformational changes in the U.S. food and agriculture system within the next 25 years. NIFA seeks creative and visionary applications that take a systems approach, and that will significantly improve the supply of abundant, affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible food, while providing sustainable opportunities for expansion of the bioeconomy through novel animal, crop, and forest products and supporting technologies. These approaches must demonstrate current and future social, behavioral, economic, health, and environmental impacts. Additionally, the outcomes of the work being proposed must result in societal benefits, including promotion of rural prosperity and enhancement of quality of life for those involved in food and agricultural value chains from production to utilization and consumption.

This RFA solicits Coordinated Agricultural Project Grants, and Strengthening Coordinated Agricultural Project Grants (Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE)).

Applications must address one or more of the following 25-year goals:

  • Increase growth of agricultural total factor productivity (TFP) from the current 1.5 percent to 2 percent per year and agricultural production by 2 percent annually. TFP is a measure of productivity performance that takes into account a broad set of inputs used in agricultural production that can be influenced by changes across systems. TFP compares all land, labor, capital, and material resources used in the sector's total output. Interventions are sought that will sustain growth in the rate of production that result in continued increases in TFP.

  • Improve water and nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient use efficiency by 50 percent. Crop and livestock (including hydroponic, aquaculture, and integrated aquaponic systems), and managed forest production can be improved by use of non-traditional water sources; greater resource scavenging by roots; improving the absorption and utilization of nutrients; new or improved breeds or varieties; manipulating microbiomes; irrigation management; or recycling and reuse and conservation of water and nutrients. Development or improvement of models, decision support tools, data systems, technology innovations, and system reconfigurations at and across relevant scales can lead to new efficiencies.

  • Reduce losses due to environmental stresses, insects and other invertebrate pests, weeds, or diseases by 20 percent in crops and animals used for food, fiber, or bioproducts production. Protecting yields and other supply chain components from biotic and abiotic stress losses can increase food and economic security. Comprehensive strategies are needed for dealing with the effects of climate and extreme weather events, pathogens, pests, and parasites on agricultural production, food quality, nutritional security, and food safety. These strategies can extend to positive impacts on the health of farmers, agricultural workers, consumers, and others who could be affected by changes to food and agricultural systems.

  • Produce 50 billion gallons of biofuels and 50 billion pounds of biobased chemicals and bioproducts in the next 25 years. The development of sustainable biomass feedstock supply chains that complement existing agriculture production systems can improve overall system profitability and productivity. Strategies must address social, behavioral, and economic barriers to adoption; enhance existing food, feed, and fiber production systems; and create beneficial ecosystem services, such as improved water availability and quality, nutrient use reduction, or wildlife and pollinator habitat enhancements. Proposals must also describe how these systems can be used to expand the bioeconomy, rural prosperity, and creation of jobs.

  • Reduce food-borne illnesses to 8.5 cases per 100,000 people in the U.S. population per year. To achieve this goal, targeted approaches are needed to prevent foodborne illness incidence, while increasing the availability and accessibility of safe and nutritious food for people of all ages and all income levels. Changes to food and agricultural systems can impact the incidence of foodborne illness, nutrient composition of foods, diet quality, and nutritional security that can greatly impact overall quality of life and human health and well-being. Targeted approaches for improving food safety should include investigations of the survival, growth, and spread of foodborne pests, microbes and their genes, as well as the development of antimicrobial resistant pathogens in food environments across the food chain.

The funds will be awarded through a grant for performance periods of up to five years.

For additional information, please review the full solicitation available on the program's website:

The deadline for required letters of intent is June 27, 2018.

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