USDA Service Awards $5.3M for Habitat, Supply Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service has awarded $5.3 million in grants to 15 universities and its Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to uncover ways to improve and maintain healthy watershed habitat and water supplies.

“Developing research-based information on water quality issues is critical for America's farmers and ranchers,” said Colien Hefferan, CSREES administrator. “Understanding the sources and fate of microorganisms in water used in agricultural production is critical to maintaining a safe food supply.”

The awards are administered through the CSREES’ National Research Initiative (NRI) Water and Watershed competitive grants program. This program seeks to reduce pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in waters derived from agricultural and rural watersheds, as well as maintain adequate water supplies for agricultural crop and livestock production and rural use. 

Funded projects include research at the University of North Carolina to study microbial transport in stormwater runoff from residential and agricultural watersheds. Research at the University of California- Riverside will develop cost-efficient treatment strategies that harness natural ways to eliminate bacterial pathogens from agricultural runoff. University of Vermont researchers will quantify dairy farm pathogens in barnyard and milking operation wastewater and in feed bunk and farm ditch runoff.

The fiscal year 2008 grants are being awarded to the following institutions:

  • University of Alaska, $99,951
  • USDA-ARS, $400,000
  • University of California - Riverside, $400,000
  • University of Hawaii, $110,309
  • University of Idaho, $394,852
  • University of Illinois, $399,592
  • University of Illinois - Chicago, $392,941
  • Purdue University, $250,523
  • Kansas State University, $10,000
  • Eastern Kentucky University, $323,404
  • Michigan State University, $260,259
  • Cornell University, $385,572
  • University of North Carolina, $397,136
  • North Dakota State University, $100,000 and $290,383
  • Drexel University, $24,457
  • University of Vermont, $96,494

CSREES' NRI program has been the largest peer-reviewed, competitive grants program at USDA. Its purpose is to support research, extension, and education grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture. The 2008 Farm Bill did not renew the NRI but did authorize the creation of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.