Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Farmer and son in a field at sunset. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A Look Back at 2023

Nifa Authors
Dr. Manjit K. Misra, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

The past year was an exciting time at NIFA – a time of growth, change, renewed focus and impact. NIFA investments play a critical role in not only inspiring innovation but providing the crucial funding needed to pursue those innovations. In FY2023, NIFA awarded $2.5 billion in research, Extension and education in 2023 with research funding alone totaling to $1.204 billion. 

NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences, provided more than $455 million to support projects that improve rural economies, increase food production, stimulate the bioeconomy, mitigate impacts of climate variability, address water availability issues, ensure food safety and nutrition security, enhance human nutrition, and train the next generation of the agricultural workforce. 

Capacity funding totaling $396 million supported research projects at 1862 and 1890 Land-grant Institutions while another $397 million sustained Extension efforts at those same institutions. Another $51.4 million was awarded to 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities. 

Selected 2023 NIFA Accomplishments  

Man holding paper bag of food illustrations in background showing nutrition and food security graphic.
Food & Nutrition Security 

NIFA’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) aims to increase food and nutrition security while contributing to local economies and improving food systems in the United States. GusNIP supports projects that distribute financial incentives to consumers with low income to increase the purchase of and prescriptions for fruits and vegetables. By the end of the program’s third year, $41.6 million in incentives had been redeemed, generating an $85.6 million economic impact. Participants reported higher fruit and vegetable intake than the average U.S. adult after participating in GusNIP.  

In FY2023, NIFA invested $70 million into its Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), the nation’s first federal nutrition education program for low-income populations. EFNEP educators reached more than 45,000 adults and 187,000 youths with education on diet, nutrition, physical activity and food budgeting. EFNEP graduates reported a collective food cost savings of $558,446.34, and 94% of adults improved their diet, including consuming additional fruits and vegetables. For example, graduates of Lincoln University’s EFNEP program in Pemiscot County, Missouri, reported increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and an average savings of $52 per month on food costs.  

NIFA partnered with the National Science Foundation to fund a $5 million Phase 2 award in the NSF Convergence Accelerator’s Track J: Food and Nutrition Security program. The track focus aligns with a USDA’s core priority to ensure everyone in this country has consistent and equitable access to safe, healthy, affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. 

NIFA and the USDA Office of the Chief Economist teamed up to expand efforts to prevent food loss and waste with $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support multiple outreach, research, and education efforts. For example, Aloha Harvest in Honolulu, Hawaii, will address Hawaii's critical need to reduce food insecurity and food waste by rapidly scaling and diversifying food rescue to expand capacity for collection of greater volume, longer storage periods and food processing, contributing to a more resilient local food system better able to recover from crises. Additionally, Oko Urban Farms Inc. in Brooklyn, New York, will use aquaponics and a mixture of aquaculture and hydroponics to achieve their goal of improving low-income residents’ access to nutritious foods through reduction of food waste and development of the local food system’s workforce. The funding is also supporting efforts by the National 4-H Council and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) programs.  

The NIFA Food and Nutrition Security Team also made significant contributions to a variety of White House and USDA initiatives. These included: 

  • The White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which is working to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years. 
  • The USDA Agricultural Science Center of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet (ASCEND) for Better Health, a virtual center delivering science-based solutions that promote and elevate food and nutrition security for all Americans. 
  • The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, which presented a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change in the U.S. to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and close the disparities surrounding them. 
Illustrated graphic representing climate change.
Climate Smart Agriculture 

Climate change presents real threats to U.S. agricultural production, forest resources and rural economies. NIFA supports efforts to combat the impact of climate change by investing in scientific innovation that helps the nation adapt. Projects that support climate-smart agriculture and forestry are funded through a variety of NIFA competitive grant programs including AFRI’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems; Water Quantity and Quality; Sustainable Agroecosystems: Health, Functions, Processes and Management; and Rapid Response to Extreme Weather Events as well as other competitive grant programs. Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, Specialty Crop Research Initiative and Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and SARE are just a few of the non-AFRI grant programs that are also addressing climate change. 

Researchers at Colorado State University and the Meridian Institute released the National Climate Change Roadmap, a NIFA-supported science agenda produced through an innovative “horizon scan” methodology to inform the next decade of research. Funded through AFRI, the project involved over 61 national experts in climate-related agricultural research, education, and Extension to assess the state of climate research and Extension in agriculture, forestry and working lands, along with key needs and gaps. As a first step for implementing the roadmap, NIFA is supporting a National Extension Climate Action Convening in early 2024 to create a National Climate Action Plan for Extension programs using the roadmap’s insights as a guide.  

NIFA announced a $10 million investment in two visionary and transdisciplinary projects that will advance the science of reducing methane — a potent greenhouse gas — produced naturally by ruminant animals. The projects, one at the University of Florida and another at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, are part of a special priority in AFRI’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program area and are funded as part of the U.S. government’s response in alignment with the Global Methane Pledge.  

Climate change is challenging the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems through long-term changes to temperature and rainfall; increased threats due to extreme weather events; and shifts in pests and diseases. As a result, plants will need to be more resilient and adapt to these threats, while crops must continue meeting the demand for safe and affordable food. NIFA has joined the National Science Foundation and funders from the United Kingdom and Germany to launch a new international funding opportunity called “Future Proofing Plants to a Changing Climate,” with the goal of finding ways that ensure food production meets challenges imposed by climate change and environmental stress.  

More & Better Markets 
Illustration representing markets.

NIFA continues its efforts to develop new markets that are fair, competitive, distributed and resilient. This includes processing and distribution capacity; local and regional food systems; organic and emerging opportunities; safeguarding animal and plant health; and regional rural development centers. 

NIFA Bioproduct Pilot Program grantees at Virginia Tech, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Iowa-based small business Soylei Innovations made progress on three projects that will spur economic activity in the nation’s rural areas while lowering commercialization risks associated with bringing biobased products to market. The projects will be developing products — ranging from bioplastics to thermoplastic rubber and biobinders for use in pavement — using food waste, high oleic soybean oil and swine manure as well as other feedstocks.  

NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research program invested $13.9 million in 14 Phase III awards to further commercialize technologies that would benefit small- and mid-sized meat and poultry processing facilities. These grants, made to small businesses from California to Iowa to North Carolina, funded research in monitoring and improving complex processes, worker safety and food safety.  

A NIFA-funded program at Iowa State University aims to assist swine producers with early identification of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus outbreaks. The project will develop a surveillance system to help swine producers in real-time monitoring of key production indicators helping decrease the time to identify disease outbreaks. Access to this information will aid decision-making and decrease the time to identify disease outbreaks to prevent major economic losses to the U.S. swine industry.  

In FY2023, NIFA demonstrated commitments to advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s 2022 bioeconomy executive order, which directs federal agencies to invest in foundational scientific capabilities to advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the U.S. A key element of USDA’s response is a NIFA-led report that makes policy recommendations to further develop the nation’s biomass supply chain. NIFA worked with partners across USDA and other federal agencies in developing strategies to boost production of sustainable biomass, producing a plan that focuses on resilience and recommended actions to promote further research and development. 

Illustrations representing equity.

NIFA’s From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals program was funded in FY2023 with a $262.5 million investment for 33 five-year projects led by Minority-serving Institutions to provide training and support to more than 20,000 future diverse food and agricultural leaders. This program is funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to lower costs for American families; expand access to markets to producers from all backgrounds and communities; build a clean energy economy; and strengthen American supply chains. 

In 2023, NIFA supported the nation’s 1890 Land-grant Universities (LGUs) to participate in a new integrated multistate project — the Climate Resiliency Initiative — which will address a broad range of climate change and mitigation issues in food and agriculture. Supported by Evans-Allen capacity funds, the project is the first such multistate effort by the 1890 LGUs in about two decades. Since 2020, NIFA has also provided $35 million in scholarship funding to undergraduate students attending 1890 LGUs pursuing a career in food and agricultural sciences. During the last academic year, more 1,200 students received scholarships.  

Through NIFA’s Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) program, EDEN’s 1890s Advisory Group partnered with the Texas A&M University System, Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and other academic and non-academic partners to host the 3rd Annual Preparedness, Response, Innovation, Mitigation and Recovery Conference. More than 100 people attended, which highlighted the unique roles of 1890 LGUs and indigenous institutions in responding to the needs of underserved people and places as they prepare for disasters. 

In 2023, the agency invested more than $54 million across several programs, ranging from Agricultural Risk Management Education and Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer to AFRI education and workforce development programs, which specifically emphasize support to underserved communities and small and medium meat and poultry processors. These efforts include innovations to add food supply resilience in times of market stress and agricultural workforce training. Finally, NIFA invested $10 million to support projects to help connect farmers, ranchers and others in agriculture-related occupation to stress assistance programs, with the goal of increasing behavioral health awareness as well as positive outcomes for agricultural workers and their families. 

As strong as 2023 was for NIFA, we look forward to more advancements in 2024 that will feed people as we continue to improve and fuel progress across the nation. 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Agriculture systems and technology
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
Agriculture economics and rural communities
U.S. States and Territories

Your feedback is important to us.

Take the Website Survey