WisconsinAquaculture.com - 080917 Deadline FFAR Invests up to $5M to Strengthen US Aquaculture Economy
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080917 Deadline FFAR Invests up to $5M to Strengthen US Aquaculture Economy

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research to Invest Up to $5 Million in Strengthening the American Aquaculture Economy

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2017 - The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, today announced a competitive research program to stimulate innovative research on farmed production of fish and shellfish. The U.S. imports up to 90 percent of the seafood consumed domestically and approximately half is produced by aquaculture, often from countries that do not have strict environmental and product safety standards.

FFAR will invest up to $5 million for research that will improve economic opportunities for U.S. farmers and increase the supply of domestically-produced, nutritious foods. Doubling U.S. aquaculture would result in 50,000 domestic jobs and a billion dollars of new value, according to a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration study.

Researchers will be invited to apply for the program on July 10, 2017 and be required to identify matching funds to be eligible for a grant. The Foundation's dollar-for-dollar matching model will ensure that research proposals come with funding partners who are invested in delivering value and seeing measurable outcomes. The FFAR investment of up to $5 million in aquaculture research will be at least doubled. 

"The United States has the resources and innovation necessary to support a thriving aquaculture economy here at home," said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. "The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is committed to addressing the global demand for nutritious, sustainable protein sources, and this competitive grant program announced today will bolster that potential."

This Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research program will support the long-term success of farmed fish and shellfish products in the U.S. by accelerating solutions to industry challenges. Unmet research needs to be addressed through this program will focus on understanding biological and technological barriers to economic viability and the environmental impact of a diverse range of aquatic species. This is the second initiative within the FFAR Protein Challenge, a suite of research programs that supports producers' efforts to meet the growing global protein demand while conserving natural resources.

"We greatly appreciate the leadership and innovative grant program that FFAR is offering to resolve biological and economic sustainability challenges," said Jim Parsons, President, National Aquaculture Association.  "We strongly believe this will assist in the production of even better US farm-raised fish and shellfish, increase on-farm productivity for U.S. aquaculturists, and strengthen rural and/or coastal economies."

Researchers will be invited to respond to a Request for Applications, to be available on the FFAR website on July 10, 2017.  August 9, 2017 Deadine for pre-proposals. More information: http://foundationfar.org/challenge/protein-challenge/aquaculture/ . 


 Program Priorities

Applicants to the Sustainable American Aquaculture Program must address at least one of the following program priorities, and that connection must be explicit in the application along with metrics to measure success of the research program:

The overarching goal of this RFA is to support innovative research necessary for further development of sustainable aquaculture in the United States.

FFAR is committed to supporting research on the following topics:

1) Genomics and breeding of less-commonly studied shellfish species (e.g. mussels, clams, scallops) for improved performance parameters. Farmed shellfish such as mussels have high feed conversion efficiency, reproduce quickly and can be grown and harvested with minimal environmental impact. Shellfish may also provide important ecosystem services such as water filtration and increased biodiversity around cultivation beds. Investigating shellfish genetics and breeding for improved performance has the potential to yield substantial gains in the production of sustainable and nutritious protein sources. 

2) Hatchery research including broodstock development and larval rearing. Establishing a reliable and sufficient supply of high-quality eggs and larvae is critical for successful aquaculture production. Many biological and environmental factors such as nutrition, photoperiod, water conditions and timing of sexual maturation influence egg quality and time of spawning. Similarly, survival of larvae is impacted by environmental conditions, complex feeding protocols, stocking densities and other factors. Better understanding of these life-stages will be important for ensuring a robust supply of animals for commercial stocking.

3) Market-based analyses for new species and/or production regions. One of the barriers to production of new species is comprehensive assessment of the potential costs and market demand, yields, substitutability and other factors that influence commercial feasibility and decision-making. FFAR intends to fund socio-economic and market-based analyses for under-utilized species and production regions not currently supported by other federal agencies.


Research topics NOT covered by this initiative:

· Molecular mechanisms of pathogen transmission, pathogenicity, disease resistance, breeding for disease resistance or evaluation of therapeutics (e.g. pre- and pro-biotics, feed additives or drugs).

· Food-safety related research, traceability and seafood fraud

· Oyster genetics and breeding


About the Program

The Sustainable American Aquaculture program from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is intended to advance innovative research in sustainable fish and shellfish production. Aquaculture has the potential to provide millions of Americans with nutritious foods while contributing to the economic health of communities across the country. Scientific research in this area has typically been funded at low levels compared to other agricultural commodities, however as the industry grows, research will play a critical role in understanding the biology and marketability of a variety of fish and shellfish species and in developing environmentally-friendly practices that sustain production.

The Sustainable American Aquaculture program will bring together major stakeholders from the public and private sectors to support the aquaculture industry.



The objective of this RFA is to stimulate innovative research in farmed production of fish and shellfish, providing economic opportunities to U.S. farmers and increasing the supply of domestically-produced, nutritious foods to meet growing consumer demand. There is a major need to understand the biological and technological barriers, and market potential for a diverse range of aquatic species. In addition, research focused on understanding and minimizing potential environmental impacts of aquaculture production will be key to public acceptance of farmed fish and shellfish products, an important consideration for long-term industry success.

About one billion people worldwide rely on fish and shellfish as their primary source of animal protein, and these foods contain all the essential amino acids and are rich in vitamins A, B12 and D, minerals such as calcium and iodine, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids crucial for brain health (FAO, 2016; Hibbeln et al., 2007; Thilsted, 2016). It is clear that fish products play an important role in food security and improving human nutritional outcomes (FAO, 2016; Thilsted, 2016). However, the demand for fish continues to outstrip supply: it is projected that by 2030 the world will need to produce an additional 30 million metric tons of fish (FAO, 2016; OECD/FAO, 2015). Producing fish and shellfish sustainably to meet projected demand presents a challenge that will require appropriately-managed aquaculture in addition to wild-capture fishing (FAO, 2011; FAO, 2016; Lowther and Liddel, 2015; OECD/FAO, 2015). The exciting potential of fish and shellfish farming is evident in the variety of species and cultivation systems used globally, and scientific advancement in this area plays an important role in supporting sustainable protein production for a growing population.

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food-producing sector worldwide (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), however the U.S. ranks 15th in production at ~$1.3 billion annually (Lowther and Liddel, 2015). In fact, approximately half of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is produced by aquaculture, conducted primarily in Asia (Kite-Powell, 2013; Lowther and Liddel, 2015). Domestically, aquaculture is conducted in states ranging from Mississippi and Arkansas to Washington and Maine (USDA-NASS, 2013). Research supported by FFAR will contribute to important economic opportunities for farmers in these states and others.


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