USDA-NIFA to Invest $13M in Treating, Eradicating Livestock Diseases

(File Photo)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of over $13 million in research that explores novel therapies and prevention strategies for animal diseases that cost the agricultural industry billions worldwide.

“The health of agricultural animals is critical to ensuring the U.S. maintains a safe and adequate food supply,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. “The research we are funding with these grants will create new knowledge and spur discoveries that enhance production efficiency and improve animal health and welfare.”

The 24 grants announced today are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Diseases of Agricultural Animals program area priority. They will support projects at 17 universities focusing on disease prevention, vaccine development,  and management strategies to maintain healthy agricultural animals.

This newly funded research investigates diseases affecting a full range of species, from cattle, poultry and pigs to horses, sheep and fish. The knowledge created by this research promises to aid farmers and ranchers in improving animals’ resistance to disease while also catalyzing the development of novel prevention and treatment methods.

Some funded projects include:

University of Illinois’ proposal focuses on developing safe and efficient drugs that block the activity of Cryptosporidium parvum, a highly prevalent parasite that causes a serious diarrheal illness in calves, lambs and goat kids in the U.S. and worldwide. This project will lead to effectively treating these infections in calves to improve livestock health and ease a significant economic burden to the cattle industry. ($790,000)

Marek's disease, a cancer-like disease of chickens, is caused by a herpes virus known as Marek's disease virus. The use of extensive vaccination by the poultry industry has significantly reduced the disease burden. However, the cost of vaccination and the emergence of novel viruses capable of overcoming vaccination pose a serious economic threat to the poultry industry. A Texas A&M University project on Marek’s Disease in chickens will help reduce the cost of vaccinations for U.S. poultry producers. ($625,000)

Enteric septicemia is the leading disease of cultured channel catfish. There are limits in the current preventive and treatment strategies. There is an urgent, industry-defined need to provide catfish producers with a practical, safe and effective treatment alternative. Mississippi State University’s project will evaluate an antimicrobial feed additive that will provide a safe and practical solution to combat enteric septicemia in catfish. This research will help develop treatment options for aquaculture producers that will increase production efficiency. ($625,000)

Swine influenza virus is one of the top respiratory infections in swine, causing significant economic losses to the swine industry every year. This virus is highly prevalent in the U.S., and the complexity of this disease makes it challenging to develop effective vaccines. Cornell University’s research will develop more effective vaccines for swine influenza virus. ($642,000)

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2021, NIFA’s total investment was $1.96 billion.


Latest News

Mastitis in Beef Cows: What You Need to Know

Although mastitis, an infection of the udder, is often considered a dairy cow problem, the disease may also impact beef producers. Here's what you need to know and look for and how to help protect your herd.

We Need More Answers, Veterinarian Says About Biosecurity Research

As a veterinarian, Jeremy Pittman, senior director of U.S. veterinary services for Smithfield Foods, says he is constantly tasked with, asked about and challenged on biosecurity processes or protocols. 

Mineral and Vitamin Considerations When Drylotting Cows

Managing cows in a drylot can be a way to maintain the herd when forage production is reduced. However, it's important to make sure cows are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

Animal Activist and Former Baywatch Star Found Not Guilty in ‘Open Rescue’

Former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and activist Alicia Santurio were found not guilty of misdemeanor theft after “rescuing” two chickens in 2021. Although they faced jail time, Paul says it was worth the risk.

7 Tips for More Effective Vaccination Programs in Calves

Ask 10 dairy producers what they believe is an effective vaccination program for calves, and you’ll likely get 10 unique answers. That’s OK, because there is no effective one-size-fits-all strategy.

For the Love of the Game, How Agriculture Helped Birth the Game of Basketball

It may not seem like basketball has a strong connection to agriculture, but from the balls used in the NBA, to the sport itself, agriculture has direct ties to a sport that takes over televisions during March Madness.