Hennessy Receives USDA NIFA Grant

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will be awarding $6 million in grants to 10 universities. According to a USDA press release, the NIFA awards came through its agriculture and Food Research Initiative funding in the Climate Variability and Change challenge area. The overall goal of the NIFA climate work is to promote research focused on reducing greenhouse gasses and increasing carbon sequestration in agricultural and forest production systems the release states.

Among those receiving grants are CARD economist David Hennessy and ISU economics adjunct associate professor Hongli Feng, who will join other researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the universities of North and South Dakota in an interdisciplinary study. The group of researchers was given a $550,000 grant to develop an integrated framework for understanding agroecosystems adaptation to climate change in a production system transition zone.

In short, they will be focusing on an area in North Dakota at the edge of Corn Belt where land use typically transitions from growing corn to growing wheat, grasses, or other uses. Historically, the area has been drought-prone and unsuitable for growing corn, but in recent years, wheat and grasslands have declined and corn acreage has increased. Hennessy’s group will use the area to study how climate change may be affecting land use, and how future policy formation could help agricultural adjustments.

The research will be completed by 2017.

(Released April 2014)