Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. NIFA will be the Ag Department's extramural research enterprise. In a speech at the National Press Club, Vilsack outlined his vision for addressing some of the world's major challenges over the coming decades.
"I am convinced that right now is USDA's opportunity to work with Congress, the other science agencies, and with our partners in industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector, to bring about transformative change," Vilsack said. He went on to mention challenges such as: food production under the pressure of environmental change; and water shortages.
NIFA replaced the former Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, which had been in existence since 1994. Among other areas the agency is expected to focus on are animal health and animal genomes.
The National Pork Producers Council says the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being and communities by supporting research, education and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.
American Soybean Association President Johnny Dodson, a soybean producer from Halls, Tenn., says expanding agricultural research and establishing NIFA has long been a priority for ASA and that he applauds USDA for recognizing and acting on the need for a new approach to research.