This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $19 million worth of funds awarded to 36 grantees for the purpose of “ensuring safe and nutritious food supply while maintaining American agricultural competitiveness.” Specifically, the goal is to prevent microbial and chemical contaminants from reaching the food chain from production to consumption.

Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA’s director, says, "Increasing food safety continues to be a major focus for USDA, as it directly impacts the health and well-being of all Americans. Funding provided to universities supports discoveries of new ways that we can prevent foodborne illnesses and increase the safety of our food production industry."

Funds were awarded to universities in a variety of categories. The largest endowments in each category were given as follows:

Category: Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies

Largest Endowment: University of Maine (Orono) - $900,000

Category: Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance

Largest Endowment: University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) - $2,250,000

Category: Improving Food Safety

Largest Endowment: Cornell University (Ithaca) - $979,761

Category: Improving Food Quality

Largest Endowment: University of Illinois (Champaign) - $861,714

The awards were made possible through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.