The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $6 million available for research into antimicrobial resistance and has set an Aug. 3 deadline for grant proposals. The funding comes from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (AFRI). “Through our Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics, and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release Monday. “The research projects funded through this announcement will help us succeed in our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health.” Applications for research funding must address one or more of the following:
- Develop novel systems approaches to investigate the ecology of microbial resistance microbes and gene reservoirs in the environment in animals, in crops, in food products, or in farm-raised aquaculture products.
- Develop, evaluate and implement effective and sustainable resources and strategies, to include alternative practices, techniques, technologies or tools that mitigate emergence, spread or persistence of antimicrobial resistant pathogens within the agricultural ecosystem, in animals, in crops and in food.
- Identify critical control points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in the pre- and post-harvest food production environment.
- Design innovative training, education and outreach resources (including web-based resources) that can be adapted by users across the food chain, including policy makers, producers, processors, retailers and consumers.
- Design and conduct studies that evaluate the impact and efficacy of proposed research, education and extension/outreach interventions on antimicrobial resistance across the food chain, from primary producers to primary consumers.
Since 2009, more than $82 million in food safety research and extension grants has been awarded through AFRI, including $3.4 million in fiscal year 2015 for antimicrobial resistance. Previously funded projects include a State University of New York project evaluating critical control points in dairy farm operations and a Texas A&M University project to develop science-based decision aids related to antibiotic stewardship.
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