On April 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced it is immediately accepting grant applications for studying problems and solutions arising from the COVID-19 virus and its impact on the capability of the food and agriculture systems to produce safe, nutritious, and abundant food throughout local, regional, and national levels. The program intends to identify interdisciplinary solutions throughout the supply chain from production to consumption, which will include tools, techniques, technologies, food supply logistics, innovations and other practices that can be rapidly adopted to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Proposals will be received through the existing Foundational and Applied Science Program that USDA administers through its Agricultural Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
The application and administration processes have been adjusted from the regular AFRI process to increase the likelihood that the results of the proposed project can be used immediately. While a typical letter of intent is not required, potential applicants must determine suitability for application by emailing proposed topics to a designated Program Area Primary Contact before making a formal submission. The due date for grant applications is June 4, 2020.
The newly announced COVID-19 grants will fit within a cross-cutting category that merges topics from the six AFRI priorities addressing research, education and extension projects in:
- Plant health and production and plant products
- Animal health and production and animal products
- Food safety, nutrition and health
- Bioenergy, natural resources and environment
- Agriculture systems and technology
- Agriculture economics and rural communities
Most AFRI grants go to educational institutions and researchers as well as government entities. Grants are subject to detailed requirements regarding eligibility, application content and other requirements about the administration of the grants.
Examples of suggested proposals include:
- Health and security of livestock (e.g., determining susceptibility of livestock to COVID-19 developing methods for detection and surveillance of COVID-19 in livestock).
- Food and food processing (e.g., determining survival of COVID-19 on different types of foods, food products, food packaging materials and food manufacturing surfaces as impacted by pH, storage temperature, moisture or water activity, or storage conditions; assessing the effect of manufacturing and processing conditions on survival of COVID-19; measuring the transfer rate of COVID-19 from hands to foods and food contact surfaces; or developing education materials for food handlers and consumers on COVID-19 and foods).
- Well-being of farms, food service providers and rural Americans (e.g., providing information and training to farm workers and food service providers to mitigate infection and transmission of COVID-19).
- Economic security (e.g., developing educational and management strategies to ensure economic security of small-scale producers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic; initiating the compilation of readily accessible science-based proactive preparedness measures that will mitigate the knowledge gaps for potential and future epidemics and pandemics).
As the number of cases around the world grows, Faegre Drinker’s Coronavirus Resource Center is available to help you understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19.