Competitive grants in the amount of $30.1 million will be awarded to 80 research projects that will improve food safety and reduce antibiotic resistance in food, according to an announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and John P. Holdren, President Obama's Science and Technology Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"In the face of diminishing land and water resources and increasingly variable climatic conditions, food production must increase to meet the demands of world population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050," says Vilsack. "Funding in research to respond to these challenges should be considered as an investment in our nation's future, an investment which will pay big dividends in the years to come."

The funds will be made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. In addition to these awards, it was also announced that President Obama’s 2017 Budget will set aside $700 million for AFRI, the fully authorized funding level established by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.

According to Holdren, "Further strengthening our investments in agricultural research will be essential for U.S. farmers to be able to keep the Nation's food supply abundant, healthy, reliable, and sustainable through the 21st century. That's why the President's forthcoming 2017 budget request doubles funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to the full authorized level of $700 million."

Over the past seven years, AFRI granted monies to various universities, nonprofits, community groups, businesses and foundations working to combat many agricultural challenges--childhood obesity, rural economic growth, water availability, food production, energy resources, climate change and food safety.

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