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USDA Awards $500,000 through New Behavioral Science Grant Program

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced two grants totaling $500,000 to help pinpoint motivators that drive farmers to adopt conservation practices and identify the roadblocks that may get in the way. These awards are made through NIFA’s Behavioral and Experimental Economic Applications for Agri-Environmental Policy Design program, a new grant offering under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities program. This new program is jointly funded by NIFA and USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

“USDA provides incentives for farmers to adopt conservation practices, yet many farmers do not participate,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Projects funded by these grants will give us greater insight on why farmers adopt conservation practices and help us more effectively target limited resources for these conservation incentives.”

Within the AFRI Foundational Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities program, this joint initiative is funding research that applies behavioral and experimental techniques to agri-environmental issues.

Fiscal year 2016 awards include a $250,000 grant to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, that will identify ways to increase the number of Hispanic producer applications to USDA conservation programs. A $250,000 grant to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, will investigate how risk and time preferences may inform how producers view the benefits and costs of USDA agri-environmental programs.

More information on the NIFA funded projects is available on the NIFA website.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and promotes transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel has resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.

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