USDA Launches NIFA

The USDA has launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and replaces the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). NIFA will continue CSREES' role in extramural research.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regards this as an "opportunity to truly transform a field of science." He believes this is USDA's chance to "work with the Congress, the other science agencies, and with our partners in industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector, to bring about transformative change."

The focus of NIFA will be on keeping American agriculture competitive, improving nutrition and ending childhood obesity, improving food safety, securing America's energy future, and enhancing the environment and natural resources.

The Obama administration has committed to re-emphasizing the basic sciences and to commit as much as 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product to science. USDA, with the support of the livestock industries, needs to aggressively pursue its share of this renewed commitment to enhance federal funding for basic research supporting animal agriculture. Recent funding challenges have resulted in significant constraints on basic research conducted within the federal system of research institutes. This research, long-term often low return, will not be done within the private sector but yet forms the basis of much of the significant advances achieved over the past few decades in animal agriculture.