USDA announces $21 million in bioenergy funding


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By Erin Voegele | May 23, 2016 | BIOMASS Magazine

The USDA has announced the availability of $21 million in funding through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to support the development of regional systems in sustainable bioenergy and biobased products, as well as education and training for the next generation of scientists.

Established by the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, AFRI is a competitive, peer-reviewed grant program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. Since its establishment, the program has led to innovations and discoveries in agriculture to find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of food systems, ensure food safety, combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain economic growth, and address water availability issues, among other achievements.

The current round of funding is offered through the ARFI Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts challenge area, which creates or sustains jobs by enhancing existing food and fiber production systems, boosts ecosystems by reducing greenhouse gases and improving water and habitat quality, and providing renewable energy, chemical, and product options.

“This announcement marks the Obama Administration’s latest investment in the biobased economy, which pumps $369 billion into the U.S. economy each year and supports 4 million jobs in rural and small towns across the United States. Over the course of this Administration, America has more than doubled our renewable energy production, and today we import less than half our oil. We are saving money at the pump, bolstering national security by relying less on foreign oil, and combatting climate change with investments in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide for cleaner air,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Today’s investment into regional production systems and the development of our next generation of scientists will have a direct impact on local economies now and set us up for a brighter, more innovative future.”

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