September 24, 2010
At its annual summer meeting, the member organizations of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition adopted a set of eight recommendations in support of USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Those recommendations were forwarded to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and his agricultural research leadership team today.
NSAC has been a key supporter of AFRI and of its two predecessor programs, the former National Research Initiative and the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems. AFRI was created by the 2008 Farm Bill, merging the other two programs into a single program. AFRI is the largest of the competitive grant research programs administered by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
In its recommendations, the NSAC membership called on USDA to increase and improve AFRI programming for rural innovation and revitalization, local and regional food systems, and classical public plant and animal breeding work.
Also included were pleas to allow for more integrated research, education and extension projects and for more sustainable systems projects.
The resolution also called for a return to a fully competitive program. In 2010, contrary to the terms of the 2008 Farm Bill, a majority of AFRI funds were available only to universities and not to NGOs, research agencies, or individual researchers.
AFRI details are available on NIFA’s website.