USDA and DOE announced a raft of grant and loan opportunities and funded projects, many of them funded through the 2014 Farm Bill. On February 20, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), announced $10 million in funded projects to drive down the costs of advanced biofuels, such as those sourced from algae and crop residues. On February 25, USDA’s National Institute of Food And Agriculture (NIFA), released six requests for applications (RFA) as part of a $160 million grant program, as well as announcing $14 million in total grants to strengthen rural agricultural communities.

BETO Awardees are Metabolix, Inc., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Ohio State University, University of California Riverside, OPX Biotechnologies, Kiverdi Inc., and the Gas Technology Institute.  The projects range from $1 to $2 million, and are aimed at increasing feedstock yield, process productivity, as well as the development of applications outside of renewable fuels – including green chemistry applications and biobased products. The Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), a joint DOE-USDA program, which seeks to “develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass … to help replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles, and diversify our energy portfolio,” will provide $8.7 million for bioenergy research and education.  Past projects receiving funding by BRDI include a bolt-on cellulosic facility at Quad County Corn Cooperative in Galva, Iowa, as well as various waste utilization projects, and fiber and fertilizer applications from dairy manure. USDA is accepting concept papers for BRDI funding through March.

USDA’s National Institute of Food And Agriculture (NIFA) announced $160 million in funding, through their Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (ARFI). Also funded through the 2014 Farm Bill, ARFI provides funding for research, education and extension projects that investigate challenges to U.S. agriculture production.  Under ARFI, six separate project areas will be funded, and include food security ($16 million), water ($9 million), childhood obesity prevention ($6 million), food safety ($6 million) and agricultural and natural resources science for climate variability and change ($5 million). The sixth project funding area ($116 million) will address Farm Bill priority areas, and includes plant health and plant products, animal health and animal products, bioenergy, natural resources and environment, as well as agriculture economics and rural communities.  Now in its sixth year, NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamay touts the broad reach of ARFI, stating that the program was “created to find innovative solutions to the challenges we face as a society, such as hunger and food security, health, climate, food safety, and bioenergy.”


For more information see: 

Energy Department Announces $10 Million to Develop Innovative Bioenergy Technologies, DOE EERE

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), Request for Applications (RFA), USDA

USDA Announces $14 Million in Grants Supporting Economic Growth for Rural Communities, USDA