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national institute of food and agriculture

Automation Helps Solve Specialty Crop Challenges

With support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Multistate Research Fund, researchers at 17 land-grant universities are working together to develop automated systems that work well for labor-intensive specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery plants. A multi-state collaborative approach lifts the burden of research and development from a single specialty crop sector and spurs major advances.

NIFA Impact: Research on Regulatory Policy Impacting Low-Moisture Food Safety

Nut products. Spices. Pet food. Breakfast cereals. Although most consumers would not expect these foods to contain harmful bacteria, all have been linked to nationwide outbreaks and recalls due to the presence of salmonella, which is the most frequently reported cause of food-related illness in the U.S. To better regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed, the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act focuses on preventing food contamination rather than responding to foodborne-illness events.

Pollinators at a Crossroads

Bees and other pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals, play a critical role in our food production system. A healthy pollinator population is vital to producing marketable commodities. More than 100 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators. The added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils, and a diverse wildlife. That’s why USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with the Land-Grant University System, U.S. government laboratories, and private and non-profit organizations to support research, education, and extension programs advancing pollinator health.

Milk Findings May Help Infants Worldwide

Today is World Milk Day! In America, the average consumption of milk is about 146 pounds (17 gallons) per person per year according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Children account for a large portion of milk drinkers, particularly infants as milk is meant to be the sole source of nutrition for infants until age 6 months.

NIFA Impacts: Saving the Ogallala Aquifer, Supporting Farmers

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the world’s largest fresh groundwater resources. It underlies 175,000 square miles in eight states. Starting as hundreds of feet of silt, clay, and gravel eroded from the Rocky Mountains and laid down by streams millions of years ago, rainfall during this time produced an underground lake the size of Lake Huron.

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Helen Chipman, PhD, RDN

In celebration of Women’s History Month, USDA is featuring Dr. Helen Chipman of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Dr. Chipman serves as Acting Division Director for Nutrition and Food Safety, and National Program Leader, Food and Nutrition Education.

Setting the Stage for Innovative Research

We’re fortunate to have robust food, fiber, fuel, and ag-related industries in America. Our food is safe, nutritious, and plentiful. Our fiber helps clothe people around the world. And we’re using value-added agricultural products to fuel machinery. However, agriculture is at a crossroads with the convergence of a growing global population, a changing climate, and limited natural resources. Fortunately, USDA science agencies work every day to develop new knowledge, technologies, and applications that help our farmers and ranchers work smarter, not harder.

NIFA’s Contributions to America’s Agriculture Research and Innovation

National Innovation Day was February 16th this year. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) directly contributes to America’s agriculture research and innovation, ultimately benefiting our farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Through an integrated approach of research, education, and Cooperative Extension (extension) – and strong collaboration with our grantees, partners, stakeholders, other Federal agencies, and Congress – NIFA ensures that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. Most of NIFA’s programs contribute to America’s agricultural research and innovation, including NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program.