USDA funding studies on livestock disease, pests

Published on June 17, 2015
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Two universities will receive about $1.5 million each for the first year of five-year projects intended to help protect livestock from pests and diseases.

Department of Agriculture officials announced in April that the agency was awarding the grants to the University of Vermont and The Ohio State University through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Full funding of the Vermont project is expected to cost $7.4 million, and the Ohio project would cost $7.2 million, with each amount dependent on future appropriations and project progress, according to an agency spokeswoman.

The University of Vermont will work to reduce the impact of pest and disease outbreaks in cattle, swine, and small ruminants by developing communication strategies, educational programs, online resources, and other initiatives that would change agricultural practices and policies, according to information from the USDA and the university.

The Ohio State University will work to reduce the impact of poultry respiratory diseases by developing diagnostic tools, vaccines, and novel prevention measures, as well as improve understanding of poultry respiratory disease ecology and etiology and educate stakeholders on respiratory disease prevention and control.

Mississippi State University also will receive about $50,000 through the initiative for a one-year project to create a computer and communication center. The center is intended to help veterinarians, veterinary students, and others in food production or graduate programs use modeling, data management, and analysis to protect livestock from pests and disease.