The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced more than $146 million for sustainable agricultural research projects under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program.

The program focuses on research solutions to address issues ranging from labor challenges to land stewardship. One project funded focuses on how to mitigate overuse of groundwater in the Southwestern United States, where drought has crippled traditional sources. Another examines the use of algae as a cost-effective and nutritious additive for dairy cattle.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, said investments in research are key to finding long-term solutions to the challenges agriculture faces.

“USDA is tackling urgent challenges facing American agriculture and communities across our nation. Critical issues like food insecurity, drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, and market disruption requires investments to help meet these challenges. This is the time for agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to act. Together we can lead the way with investments in science and research and climate-smart solutions that feed and nourish families, improve the profitability and resilience of producers, improve forest health, while creating new income opportunities, and building wealth that stays in rural communities,” he said.

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