New Grants Available to Help Meet Water Challenges

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture will make six-million dollars in grants available this year - and up to 30-million dollars over the next five years - as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants - announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday - will be used to develop management practices, technologies and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. Vilsack says cutting edge research holds the key to tackling the complex challenges posed by prolonged drought and ensuring the future food security of our nation. He says these grants will help arm the nation's farmers and ranchers with the tools and strategies they need to adapt and succeed - and build on ongoing, cross-governmental efforts to provide relief to those impacted by severe drought. Monday's announcement builds on department efforts to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate the impacts of drought - including implementation of the livestock disaster assistance programs provided through the 2014 Farm Bill and 40-million dollars in additional conservation dollars.

Three critical topics have been identified for funding through this Agriculture and Food Research Initiative water challenge area. These include ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorus; and reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation's water supply. The RFA for that program is expected to be released this spring.

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