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USDA Grants Spur Economic Development in Rural Communities Across U.S.

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin (202) 720-8188
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WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $12 million in grants to support research, education and Extension activities aimed at increasing prosperity and economic security for farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and consumers across the nation.

“The work being done in rural America touches everyone in this country, as well as many people around the world,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “We need to do everything we can so that rural communities are equipped to make sound decisions that will ensure sustainable, secure and prosperous futures.”

NIFA made the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Foundational Program, which supports projects that sustain and enhance agricultural and related activities in rural areas and to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and alleviate poverty. Topical issues include, but are not limited to, the interactions between agriculture, environment and communities in rural areas; demographic changes and impacts; consumer preferences or behavior; decision-making under uncertainty; market structure and performance; policy design and impact; or agriculture’s impact on the environment.

Rural community issues center around economic opportunity and development, entrepreneurship, health and well-being. Rural communities also face a different set of challenges than urban areas, including higher poverty rates, lower median incomes and population losses, all while providing agricultural products for a growing worldwide population. To adequately address these issues, the AFRI program considers the social, behavioral, economic, environmental and other factors contributing to these challenges. The primary goal of the program is to promote economically-, socially-, and environmentally-sustainable and resilient rural communities.

The following projects have been selected for awards in each AFRI program:

Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation

  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $499,961
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $499,627
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $494,769
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $499,787
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $499,514
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $462,002


Rural Families, Communities and Regional Development

  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $476,537
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $500,000
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H., $495,220
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $499,980
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $488,805
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Nev., $490,486
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $495,168


Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities - Environment

  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $494,511
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $500,000
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $495,860


Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities – Economics, Markets and Trade

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $177,529
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn., $289,250
  • University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, $345,272
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $450,581
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $238,884
  • University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $478,599
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $500,000
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $499,998
  • North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., $265,729
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $499,978
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $149,610
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., $301,741
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $401,775 


AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: food safety, nutrition and health; plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit



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