WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an investment of more than $33 million to support capacity-building efforts at 1890 Land-grant Universities. This investment, administered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will support 82 research, Extension, and education projects across the nation’s 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities designated as 1890 Land-grant Universities.
These projects are part of NIFA’s 1890 Capacity Building Grants Program, which is designed to build capacity for teaching, research, and Extension activities. Eligible institutions are receiving funding for a range of activities, including curriculum design, materials development, faculty development, student recruitment and retention, and Extension program development support. Research investments will strengthen the quality and diversity of the nation’s higher-education workforce, bolster research and knowledge delivery systems, and equip 1890 Land-grant Universities with resources needed to better address emerging challenges and create new opportunities.
“The work these universities will take on as a result of this funding have ripple effects far beyond the walls of their laboratories and classrooms,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “Through this investment, the Biden-Harris administration is helping deliver real-life, applicable solutions to make our food system stronger, while at the same time inspiring a next generation of students and scientists who will help us meet tomorrow’s agricultural challenges.”
Additionally, earlier this month, USDA welcomed 100 scholars through the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program. This program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books, and room and board each year for up to four years to selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science, or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890 Land-grant Universities and Tuskegee University. These USDA/1890 National Scholars will be placed at USDA agencies and offices to encourage pathways for careers in agriculture, nutrition, food, development and at USDA.
“The nation’s 1890 Land-grant Universities are uniquely positioned to advance fundamental sciences as well as translational research and development in support of agriculture, and this funding will increase their capacity to continue their invaluable work,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit K. Misra. “USDA looks forward to the impact these visionary projects will have in improving the supply of affordable, safe, nutritious and accessible food and agricultural products, while fostering economic development and rural prosperity in America.”
All 19 of the eligible 1890 Land-grant Universities will receive funding through the program, including: Alabama A&M University, Alcorn State University, Central State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University of Missouri, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University and A&M College, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University, and West Virginia State University.
Examples of the projects funded under 1890 Capacity Building Grants Program include the following:
- Virginia State University will receive two awards, one to increase the production of edamame and food-grade soy in south Atlantic states, and another that will explore sustainable, high-value forage options to help regional farmers supply feed to increased goat and sheep farms in the area. Both of these projects seek to help area farmers tap into and increase profits from emerging food preferences.
- Fort Valley State University in Georgia will receive three awards to research and develop new blends of vegetable cooking oils, to research reproductive technologies for sheep and goats and train students in biomedical sciences, and to establish a collaborative research and education program with agricultural students and faculty in Ghana.
- North Carolina A&T State University will receive several awards, including one to conduct on-farm trials of biodegradable mulches – a more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic mulch – in commercial vegetable production in high tunnels and open fields, and another to improve food allergy educational training for food and agriculture students entering the workforce.
These efforts build on USDA’s recent historic investment of $262.5 million to help institutions of higher education foster the next generation of diverse agricultural professionals across the nation. The announcement will provide training and support to more than 20,000 future food and agriculture leaders and is part of USDA’s commitment to improve equity and access, eliminate barriers to its programs for underserved individuals and communities, and build a workforce more representative of America.
In June, USDA also announced the release of two new public dashboards designed to enhance transparency and engagement in NIFA funding opportunities, including the capacity-building awards announced today. One dashboard offers grantees and the public unprecedented access to high-level data about agricultural research funding investments, and the other allows applicants to track the status of their grant applications. The development of these dashboards highlights USDA’s commitment to increasing data transparency and accessibility, and supports the principles outlined in the Year of Open Science initiative.