The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today an $11.5 million research investment to help small and medium-sized farms become more profitable and to improve the quality of life in American farm communities. Purdue University and Indiana University were awarded nearly $500,000 each for their projects.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded 24 grants to 20 universities and organizations through their Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The department says the research efforts focus on alternative crop enterprises, marketing, and scaling up fruit and vegetable production to overcome marketing constraints.

Purdue plans to use the funding for its project, “Taking the Next Step as a Small and Medium Sized Farm: Understanding the Integration of Production, Food Safety, and Profitability.” The USDA says the project aims to develop “new models to assist farmer decision making with respect to appropriate scale management strategies and technologies to enhance economic efficiency and sustainability.”

IU will receive funding for its project, “Incentivizing Land Access for Small, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers: Research, Extension and Community of Practice.” The project is designed to “increase knowledge of the impacts and reach of Land Access Policy Incentives and…to facilitate access to land for a New Generation of farmers and ranchers.”

“Few groups are as resilient and as determined as American farm families,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This investment in innovative research will give these family farms the tools they need to be more sustainable, profitable and productive as they face agricultural and economic challenges. When American farmers have a chance to compete, they have a greater chance at succeeding.”

You can view the full list of grant recipients and their projects by clicking here.

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