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USDA Science Strengthens U.S. Efforts to End COVID-19

Posted by Justice Wright, Public Affairs Specialist, Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area in Research and Science
Mar 04, 2021
A woman scientist holding a coronavirus in a research lab
USDA science agencies are using evidence-based research to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic requires a coordinated approach to combat the virus and its rippling effects. We all have a role to play to help end the pandemic. USDA is doing its part by providing evidence-based research and information, its facilities, personnel, and expertise to communities across the country.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) implemented research in April 2020 when cases of the Coronavirus spread across the U.S. ARS animal studies in poultry, swine, cattle, and white tail deer revealed that poultry were shown not to be susceptible to SARS-CoV2, and cattle and swine pose no transmission risk. Research on white tail deer is still ongoing. ARS scientists also confirmed that mosquitoes and biting midges do not transmit SARS-CoV-2.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is working with land-grant universities, agricultural experiment stations, and Cooperative Extension programs to provide an unmatched safety net during the pandemic. NIFA redirected some funds from its competitive grants programs to projects addressing critical research related to the pandemic and is seeing impacts from these projects.

NIFA also awarded $1.3 million through the Small Business Innovation Research Program to support research and development addressing the pandemic. With NIFA support, the Cooperative Extension System developed physically-distanced methods to serve farmers, support 4-H programs and offer activities for students learning at home. Also, a Rapid Response Toolkit for Tribal Extension agents is helping those working with farmers and families in Native nations, who are among the hardest-hit populations.

USDA’s Economic Research Service’s (ERS) annual Rural America at a Glance examines the pandemic’s effects on demographic and economic conditions in rural areas. ERS also launched its COVID-19 Working Paper series to provide timely economic information in response to the pandemic.

Through its partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and five other Federal agencies, an ERS team developed the Household Pulse Survey, which produces statistics on food insufficiency during the pandemic. Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coordinating with USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) to help state and local officials plan COVID-19 vaccine distribution to agriculture workers. CDC is using NASS Census of Agriculture data on the number of farms and hired workers by county to identify essential workers as referenced in CDC’s vaccine recommendation plan.

Working alongside our Federal partners, USDA science agencies will continue offering their expertise to support national crises response efforts.

Category/Topic: Research and Science