Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Receives $1.2 Million USDA-NIFA Grant

Plans for a $5 million community and urban food complex at the University Farm at North Carolina A&T State University, have been boosted with a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The award to N.C. A&T’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, which administers the University Farm, was part of an $18.9 million package announced by USDA-NIFA to help build or improve agricultural and food science research facilities and equipment at historically black land-grant colleges and universities.

The grant helps A&T begin a new cycle of programs to improve teaching, research and outreach through the community and urban food complex. That building is tentatively set to open in 2019, and will include a student-run farm, a community-run farm, a business incubator focused on agricultural enterprises, a research laboratory and other facilities.

"This continued support from USDA- NIFA enables our land-grant institutions to better serve multiple communities with life-sustaining services focused on food, fiber and forestry," says Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker, interim Dean of the CAES at A&T. "Our Community and Urban Food Complex will further engage farmers, students and other audiences in local food systems and the opportunities they provide."

The announcement builds on USDA's ongoing efforts to foster strong partnerships with the 1890 community, ensure equal access to USDA programs and services, and support educational opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“These awards help colleges and universities make improvements that support cutting-edge academic research and foster 21st century innovation that will shape the future of American agriculture,” said Dr. Joe Leonard Jr., USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, who announced the awards during a visit to A&T.

“For more than a century USDA has built strong partnerships with historically black colleges and 1890 Land-Grant Universities, and the 1890 Facilities Grant Program ensures that partnership will continue to benefit students for many more years to come.”

The award comes through the 1890s Facilities Grants program, which provides funding for the acquisition and improvement of food, agricultural, and human sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries, so that the 1890 land-grant institutions, including Tuskegee University, may participate fully in the production of human capital in the food and agricultural sciences.

NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. The institute’s integrated research, education and extension programs support the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, and have resulted in user-inspired groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability and ensuring food safety.