2013 Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program Announced

The Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2013 Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program was issued October 15, 2012. The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including farm efficiency and profitability, ranching, renewable energy, forestry (both urban and agroforestry), aquaculture, rural communities and entrepreneurship, human nutrition, food safety, physical and social sciences, home economics and rural human ecology, biotechnology, and conventional breeding.
This is a complex program with a number of nuances; the following is a brief summary of this very detailed program, covering:

Program areas (including dollar amounts and deadlines)
Grant types
Eligible applicants
Match requirements

For the full RFA, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/pdfs/2013_afri_foundation.pdf

Contact Morrison for more information on this grant and our grant writing services:

Brent Morrison, bmorrison@morrisonco.net or 530-893-4764, ext. 202
Stacy Kennedy, skennedy@morrisonco.net or 530-893-4764, ext. 203

The following Foundational Program Areas (detailed further below) provide a base from which applications for Research Projects, Integrated Projects, and FASE Grants may be developed.
AFRI encourages submission of innovative “high-risk” projects with potential for future high impact on agriculture, as well as innovative proposals with potential for near-term results and impacts. Following are a list of program areas identified by NIFA, detailed in PROGRAM AREAS below:

Plant Health and Production and Plant Products
Animal Health and Production and Animal Products
Food Safety, Nutrition and Health
Renewable Energy, Natural Resources and Environment
Agricultural Systems and Technology
Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities

PROGRAM AREAS

(1) Plant Health and Production and Plant Products
Plant protection, plant production and the development of new plant products are critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture and the success and growth of the Nation’s economy. Future improvements will require an increased understanding of complex, inter-related factors at a wide range of scales. These include investigations of plant biology at molecular, cellular and whole-plant levels as well as innovative and environmentally sound approaches to improve plants and protect them from biotic and abiotic stresses. Increased knowledge of plant systems and the various factors that affect plant productivity will allow U.S. agriculture to face critical challenges in areas such as food security, bio-energy, climate change, loss of agricultural land, and increasing global competition.
- Program Area Priorities – Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production
o Understanding Biological Mechanisms for Plant Production
o Understanding Plan-Associated Microorganisms and Plant-Microbe Interactions
o Controlling Weedy and Invasive Plants
o Plant Associated Insects and Nematodes
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: November 26, 2012
o Application Deadline: February 18, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $37 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 5 years

(2) Animal Health and Production and Animal Products
Animal production and health play critical roles in the sustainability and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. They contribute significantly to the nation’s economy, global food production and food security. Our competitiveness depends on understanding the critical biological and physical mechanisms underlying nutrition, growth, reproduction, and health in livestock, poultry, equine, and aquacultured species. Research at the genomic, molecular, cellular and organ systems levels is essential. We need to expand our knowledge using basic and applied research to reduce production and health costs, enhance nutritional quality of animal products, and minimize environmental impacts. This information is required to develop better management strategies to improve production efficiency, enhance animal health, and develop improved animal products for humans. These strategies may include the application of biotechnology, conventional breeding, and breed development.
- Program Area Priorities – Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Animal Reproduction
o Animal Nutrition, Growth and Lactation
o Animal Health and Disease
o Tools and Resources for Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: November 15, 2012
o Application Deadline: January 9, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $33 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 5 years

(3) Food Safety, Nutrition and Health
Human health is significantly affected by the safety, quality, and nutritive value of foods consumed. This program addresses: 1) microbial, physical, and chemical contamination of foods; 2) nutritional quality and links between food and health; 3) bioavailability of nutrients; 4) postharvest practices; and 5) improved food processing technologies.

In spite of recent advances in improving food safety, food-borne illness continues to be a source of concern for the American consumer, local, state and federal governments, and the food production industry. Chemical (including allergens) and physical hazards that could be introduced at any point in the food chain also continue to pose food safety problems. In nutrition, knowledge of dietary reference intakes and tolerable upper limits, gut biology, nutrigenomics, and the bioavailability of proven bioactive components is integral to formulating nutritious and healthy diets. Undergirding the formulation of nutritious and healthy diets is the knowledge of chemical, biological and physical characteristics of food and food ingredients involved in food processing and packaging. Generating and applying the knowledge needed to improve the safety, quality, and nutritive value of foods are part of a comprehensive approach to preventing acute food-borne illnesses and chronic degenerative diseases such as coronary heart and other vascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity. Food safety and food processing knowledge generated may also be helpful in addressing sustainability and food security.
- Program Area Priorities – Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Physical and Molecular Mechanisms of Food Contamination
o Function and Efficacy of Nutrients
o Improving Food Quality
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: November 19, 2012
o Application Deadline: February 6, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $18 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 5 years

(4) Renewable Energy, Natural Resources and Environment (RENRE)
Healthy agroecosystems and the maintenance of supporting natural resources are essential to the sustained long-term productivity of agricultural goods and services. However, degradation or loss of ecosystem services through natural processes or anthropogenic interventions (e.g., flooding, increasing water shortages, greater air and water pollution, soil quality and productivity degradation, reduced biological diversity, land use changes, greater frequency of extreme weather events), threatens the sustainability of U.S. agriculture. The goal of this Program Area is to fund a portfolio of research projects that improve our understanding of the linkages among processes and management actions at diverse spatial and temporal scales that will sustain agroecosystems and the supporting natural resources of those systems.

Agroecosystems can include crop production systems, animal production systems (either intensive or extensive), and pasture, range, and forest lands that are actively managed to provide economic, societal, and environmental benefits for individuals, communities, and society at large. Projects funded through this Program Area should contribute towards improved efforts to achieve sustainable production in agroecosystems while retaining needed ecosystems services.
- Program Area Priorities – Applicants must address the following:
o Soil, Air and Water Processes in Agroecosystems
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: November 15, 2012
o Application Deadline: February 21, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $17 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 4 years

(5) Agriculture Systems and Technology
This Program Area emphasizes the interrelationships between agricultural system components to develop the next generation of engineered systems, products, processes, and technologies. It blends biological, physical, and social sciences. This approach will lead to sustainable, competitive, and innovative solutions for U.S. and global agriculture and food production. Some key disciplinary 16 contributors may include: engineering; agricultural economics; chemistry; microbiology; soil science; animal and plant sciences; veterinary medicine; genetics; social sciences; behavioral sciences; food safety; physics; materials science; and toxicology. To the extent possible, applicants are encouraged to incorporate interdisciplinary sciences. By doing so, projects are more likely to incorporate varying dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental, and social) and have a greater impact on agricultural problems. The broad list of topics encompassed by this area includes, but is not limited to:

1. New uses and products from traditional and nontraditional crops, animals, byproducts, and natural resources;
2. Robotics, automation, precision and geospatial technologies, energy efficiency, computing, and expert systems;
3. New hazard and risk assessment and mitigation measures; and
4. Water quality and management and irrigation.

- Program Area Priorities – Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Engineering, Products and Processes
o Nanotechnology for Agricultural and Food Systems
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: November 20, 2012
o Application Deadline: February 13, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $12 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 5 years

(6) Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AE&RC)
Rural community issues center around economic opportunity and development, entrepreneurship, health and well-being. To overcome the challenges of rural quality of life and agricultural production, while maintaining a long-term sustainable agricultural system, continued research and development of innovative ideas, strategies and new technologies are needed. The challenges are multi-faceted and complex. To adequately assess and understand them we need to consider social, behavioral, economic, physical, environmental, institutional, or other factors contributing to or arising from these challenges. Given these opportunities and challenges, the primary goal of this priority area is to promote economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable agriculture and resilient rural communities. The objectives of this program area are to:

• Satisfy human food, feed, and fiber needs;
• Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base;
• Sustain the economic viability of agriculture and rural communities; and
• Enhance the quality of life of farmers, farm workers, and the rural communities.

This AE&RC program area thus 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,
- Program Area Priorities for Integrated Projects - Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Small and Medium Sized Farms
o Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation
o Rural Families, Communities and Regional Development
- Program Area Priorities for Research Projects - Applicants must address at least one of the following:
o Economics, Markets and Trade
o Environment
- Grant Limits and Deadlines:
o LOI Deadline: NOT REQUIRED
o Application Deadline: May 22, 2013
o Total Program Funds: Approx $19 million
o Max Grant: $500,000
o Max Time: 5 years

GRANT TYPES
Applications must propose one of the project types specific within the Program Areas and select the appropriate grant type for the application within the constraints of the grant types solicited.
Standard Grant - Support targeted original scientific Research, Education, Extension, or Integrated Projects.
Conference Grants - Conference Grants support scientific meetings that bring together scientists to identify research, education, and/or extension needs, update information, or advance an area of science.
Food and Agricultural Science Enhancements (FASE) - Designed to help institutions develop competitive projects, and to attract new scientists and educators into careers in high-priority areas of National need in agriculture, food, and environmental sciences.
o Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowship Grants - for research, education, extension, or integrated activities
o New Investigator Grants - for research, education, and/or extension activities
o Strengthening Grants - to enhance institutional capacity with the goal of leading to future funding in the project area, as well as strengthen the competitiveness of the investigator’s research, education, and/or extension activities
§ Sabbatical Grants - to provide an opportunity for faculty to enhance their research, education, and/or extension capabilities
§ Equipment Grants - to strengthen the research, education, and/or extension capacity of institutions by funding the purchase of one major piece of equipment (Cost Range: $10,000 - $250,000)
§ Seed Grants - to provide funds to enable investigators to collect preliminary data or perform other preliminary activities in preparation for applying for future grants from AFRI (limited to $150,000 and 2 years)
§ Strengthening Standard Grants - Standard Grant applications that meet the eligibility requirements for Strengthening Grants are eligible for reserved strengthening funds

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS
In general, eligible applicants are as follows (see RFA for specific guidance)
- For Research Projects
o State Agricultural Experiment Stations
o Colleges and Universities
o University Research Foundations
o Other Research Institutions and Organizations
o Federal Agencies
o National Laboratories
o Private Organizations or Corporations
o Individuals

- For Integrated Projects (only applies to AD&RC)
o Colleges and Universities
o 1994 Land Grant Institutions
o Hispanic serving agricultural colleges and universities


MATCHING REQUIREMENTS
Program Match Requirements - 1:1 (cash or in-kind)

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