The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today awarded grants to support the initial development of innovative ideas in agriculture and food production through the Exploratory Research Grants (ERG) program. Funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
There are 27 grants totaling $2.6 million funded through the ERG program for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. They include a project at the University of Florida (link is external) that tackled the urgent need to determine the frequency of Zika virus infection in wild-caught mosquitoes in Haiti, generating information that can help efforts to control the spread of Zika from insects to humans in Florida and other Southern states. Through another grant, Middle Tennessee State University explored an alternative approach to sustainable bioenergy and renewable energy by using food-industry wastes to grow microorganisms that produce the lipid precursors of biodiesel.
Project details can be found at the NIFA website.