Funding for Animal Health Programs at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture

13 January 20225 min reading

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA provides funding to support research, teaching and outreach in a wide variety of disciplines. Since 2010 NIFA has supported 290 competitive grant funded animal health projects across species for $156,382,739.

Dr. Robert Godfrey

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides funding to support research, teaching and outreach in a wide variety of disciplines related to plant and animal agriculture, food production, sustainable agriculture and agricultural engineering. The Institute of Food Production and Sustainability houses the Animal Systems Division where the majority of the programs supporting animal agriculture research and extension are located. Within Animal Systems, funding programs support research and extension activities in animal health and animal production. Some funding programs are located in other divisions and/or institutes but Animal Systems personnel are involved in the programs to help manage the animal related proposals and funding.

The primary instrument for funding animal production and health projects is in the Foundational and Applied Science (FAS) Program Request for Applications (RFA) of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grant program.  Within AFRI there are several specific program area priorities that have supported animal health research (Table 1). These program area priorities support competitively awarded grants that are reviewed by panels composed of individuals with expertise in the specific field of study. Budget limits can vary from $650,00 to $10,000,000 for a 3–5-year project depending on the program. Specific details regarding priorities and areas of interest, National Program Leaders to contact about the program, eligibility requirements, budgets and directions for preparing and submitting applications can be found within the AFRI FAS RFA, or in the specific RFA or web page for other programs listed in this document (see “Links to NIFA Programs” at the end). AFRI offers Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) grants to enhance institutional capacity and attract new scientists into careers of high-priority areas of national need in agriculture, food, and environmental sciences. FASE grants provide support for postdoctoral fellowships; new investigators; and project directors at small, mid-sized, or minority-serving institutions with limited institutional success or at degree-granting institutions and state agricultural experiment stations in states where institutions have been less successful in receiving AFRI funding.

Table 1. Animal Health programs within the AFRI Foundational and Applied Science

Figure 1.  Dollar amount of competitively funded projects in animal health by species for 2010-2021.

There are other areas that are outside of the AFRI grant program that also support animal health projects.  Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) is funded by NIFA but is jointly funded by NIFA, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR 8.3 - Animal Production and Protection),SBIR 8.7 - Aquaculture, SBIR 8.12 Small and Mid-Size Farms and Special Research Grants Program (SRGP) – Aquaculture also fund animal health projects. The AFRI Sustainable Agriculture Systems (SAS) program funds projects that can include animal health. It focuses on supporting projects that promote the sustainable supply of abundant, affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible food and other agricultural products, while enhancing economic opportunities and improving the long-term health and well-being of all Americans.

Capacity funding that supports animal health is the Animal Health and Disease Research Capacity Program (ADHR).  These funds are used to promote animal health research at accredited state veterinary schools or colleges or agricultural experiment stations.

There are two programs that provide support to the animal health profession by supporting veterinarians with loan repayments and enhancements of service in rural areas with veterinary shortages. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinarian shortage situation for a period of three years. The Veterinary Service Grant Program (VSGP) is a competitive program designed to relieve veterinarian shortage situations and support veterinary services. There are two types of grants for VSGP: Education, Extension, and Training (EET) and Rural Practice Enhancement (RPE). The National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) provides a framework for the coordination of federal and state animal disease diagnostic laboratory infrastructure, capabilities, and capacities.

Figure 2. Number of projects funded using competitive funds for animal health between 2010-2021 by species. 

Since 2010 NIFA has supported 290 competitive grant funded animal health projects across species for $156,382,739. An additional 401 projects were supported using capacity funds (Hatch, Hatch-Multistate and AHDR) provided to the states. Because the funds are managed by the states as part of their operating budgets it is difficult to obtain figures for the amounts spent on each project. Figure 1 depicts the distribution of funds across the species used in various animal health competitively funded programs since 2010.

Links to NIFA Programs:

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