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CSREES Announces New Funding Programs and Related Stakeholder Input Sessions

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2008 - USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) will introduce four new funding programs for fiscal year 2009 that were authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill.

CSREES is creating the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The program is authorized through fiscal years 2008-2012 with $700 million for high priority research, education and extension competitive grants that address food and agricultural sciences. The 2008 Farm Bill does not reauthorize the National Research Initiative. A public meeting will be held Wednesday, September 10, in Washington, DC, to solicit comments regarding the implementation of AFRI. CSREES anticipates releasing a request for applications in mid-January 2009.

The 2008 Farm Bill also requires USDA to enact the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which would allow USDA to repay school loans for veterinarians who agree to work in geographic areas with a shortage of veterinarians. By law, the program must be enacted by March 14, 2009. CSREES is soliciting input regarding the implantation of the program's regulations during a public meeting in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2008. CSREES plans to release a solicitation for applications by May 31, 2009.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program will open for applications in January 2009 with a 60-day open period. The competitive grants program will award $18 million to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers. A stakeholder input meeting is scheduled for October 27, 2008, in Washington, DC.

The 2008 Farm Bill added a definition for a new group of cooperating educational institutions known as Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities. These are colleges and universities that a) qualify as Hispanic-serving institutions and b) offer associate, bachelors, or other accredited degree programs in agriculture-related fields. These institutions are now eligible for CSREES integrated research, education and extension competitive grants programs. CSREES is soliciting input on how to identify and certify these institutions, with current plans for a stakeholder input meeting scheduled for later this fall.

More information about these new programs can be found online at

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit