NSAC's Blog

USDA Announces New COVID Rapid Response Research Program

April 23, 2020

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC. Photo credit: USDA.

The nation’s food system and agriculture supply chains have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant impacts are being felt across the entire food and agriculture sector including the reduction in operation of restaurants, farmers markets, processing and packaging facilities, to name a few. Farmers and ranchers have voiced the strong need for intervention to save their businesses and the food systems they supply. NSAC has already put forward policy recommendations for Congress to consider as aid efforts move forward. But as Congress scrambles to respond, it is clear that more research on the pandemic’s impact is needed in order to protect and support food safety, our nation’s food supply, farmers, and rural America.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a new research program to investigate and find solutions to alleviate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. agriculture. NIFA’s new Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Impacts Across Food and Agricultural Systems is designed to “rapidly enhance and fill knowledge and information gaps, strengthen and support critical cross-cutting issues to protect the food and agriculture supply chain, health and security of livestock, safety of our foods, as well as the well-being of farm, food service providers, and rural Americans.”

Program Overview

This new grant program will be soliciting project proposals through June 4, 2020 and fast-tracking awards to research institutions to discover strategies that mitigate threats posed by COVID-19 to the U.S. agricultural system.  Funding for this new research priority comes from NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) and is included in the FY2020 Foundational and Applied Science Program RFA.  The program will address four main research areas: (1) Health and Security of Livestock; (2) Food and Food Processing; (3) Well-being of Farm, Food Service Providers, and Rural Americans; and (4) Economic Security.

According to NIFA, project proposals addressing this priority can be local, regional or national in scope and address challenges faced by the entire food system. Projects should develop and deploy rapid, reliable, and readily adoptable strategies across the food and agriculture system utilizing interdisciplinary approaches and teams. NIFA will be expediting application, evaluation and awards review to ensure rapid project start-up and deployment of results.

Specifically, successful applicants will:

  • Focus on critical and urgent research, extension, or integrated solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the nation’s food and agricultural system;
  • Provide applicable strategies and knowledge that can be implemented rapidly to minimize or eliminate the impacts of COVID-19 on the food and agriculture system; and
  • Provide evidence that the project is aligned to the stated priorities.

Application Deadline: Thursday, June 4, 2020 (5:00 p.m. Eastern Time)

Program Area Contact: Dr. Emma Moran, (202) 309-1731 or emma.moran@usda.gov

The maximum award amount is $1,000,000 for project periods of up to two years. Funded projects will be posted on NIFA’s website once awards have been made.

Who Can Apply

As with most NIFA AFRI programs, universities and colleges, federal agencies, private organizations, and other research institutions are eligible. No letter of intent is required. All other AFRI rules and restrictions apply. Interested applicants must contact the Program Area Contact by email to inquire about the suitability of their project for submission. NIFA states that there must be a good likelihood the results of the proposed project will be immediately deployed.

More information on the Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Impacts Across Food and Agricultural Systems Program can be found in the FY2020 Foundational RFA.

For more detailed information on AFRI, including eligibility and details on how to apply, please see NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.

Categories: Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development

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