The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made $6 million available through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to fund research on antimicrobial resistance.

“The research projects funded through this announcement will help us succeed in our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement .

The funding is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack said it is one of many ways that the USDA supports the Combating Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (CARB) National Action Plan and work of the Task Force for Combating Antibiotic Resistance, which the USDA cochairs. The program priority is to promote the development of sustainable and integrated food safety strategies that reduce public health risks along the entire food chain.

According to the USDA announcement, applications for funding must address one or more of the following:

• Develop novel systems approaches to investigate the ecology of microbial resistance microbes and gene reservoirs in the environment in animals, crops, food products, or farm-raised aquaculture products.

• Develop, evaluate, and implement effective and sustainable resources and strategies, to include alternative practices, techniques, technologies, or tools that mitigate emergence, spread, or persistence of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens within the agricultural ecosystem, in animals, crops, and food.

• Identify critical control points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in the pre- and postharvest food production environment.

• Design innovative training, education, and outreach resources (including Web-based resources) that can be adapted by users across the food chain, including policy makers, producers, processors, retailers, and consumers.

• Design and conduct studies that evaluate the impact and efficacy of proposed research, education, and extension/outreach interventions on antimicrobial resistance across the food chain, from primary producers to primary consumers.

Since 2009, more than $82 million in food safety research and extension grants has been awarded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, including $3.4 million in fiscal year 2015 for antimicrobial resistance. Previously funded projects include a State University of New York project evaluating critical control points in dairy farm operations and a Texas A&M University project to develop science-based decision aids related to antibiotic stewardship.

Applications are due Aug. 3, 2016. See the request for applications for more information.

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