Have An Idea? USDA Is Offering Funding For Innovative Agricultural Products


The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency whose research brought us now taken-for-granted staples such as frozen orange juice concentrate and “permanent press” for cotton, is hoping to help more innovators bring their products to the market.

If you have an idea, you should know there is $200 million in public funding in the 2014 Farm Bill and another $200 million available from the private sector to support groundbreaking agricultural research through the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

During the last year the USDA helped U.S. inventors obtain 51 patents, file 147 patent applications, and disclose 180 new inventions. These were accomplished through cooperate research and development agreements with universities, organizations and small businesses.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently reported on these innovations, which include flour made from chardonnay grape seeds that prevents weight gain, antimicrobial packets that keep food from spoiling, efforts to protect U.S. troops in Iraq from diseases carried by sand flies, and new processes for turning grass clippings and raked leaves into bioenergy.

“Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to the economy,” Vilsack said.

“We have accelerated commercialization of federal research and government researchers are working closely with the private sector to develop new technology and transfer it to the marketplace,” he said. “USDA has a proven track record of performing research that benefits the public.”

Over the years, USDA innovations have created all sorts of products Americans use every day – cosmetics, insect controls, leathers, shampoos, and food products. Here are a few other things USDA research is responsible for:

• Mass production of penicillin in World War II;

• Almost all breeds of blueberries and cranberries currently in production, and 80 percent of all varieties of citrus fruits grown in the U.S.;

• “Tifsport”, a turf used on NFL, collegiate, and other sports fields across the country, specifically designed to withstand the stress and demands of major team sports. Tifsport is also used on PGA and other golf course fairways, while its sister turf, “Tifeagle,” designed to be mowed to one-tenth of an inch daily, is used on PGA putting greens.

More information about the USDA innovations contained in this year’s report, as well as a look at previous USDA research discoveries is available here:http://www.ars.usda.gov/sp2UserFiles/Place/01090000/FY13_TT%20Ann%20Rpt%20.pdf

Links: http://www.ars.usda.gov/sp2UserFiles/Place/01090000/FY13_TT%20Ann%20Rpt%20.pdf

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