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The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program in animal reproduction: changes in priorities and scope relevant to United States animal agriculture

The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program in animal reproduction: changes in priorities and scope relevant to United States animal agriculture

Journal of Animal Science 85(13 Suppl): E11-E15

ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3163

PMID: 17322121

DOI: 10.2527/jas.2006-506

The National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program is the USDA's major competitive grants program and is administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. The NRI was authorized by the US Congress in the 1990 Farm Bill at a funding level of $500 million; however, the maximal NRI appropriation was $181.17 million in fiscal year (FY) 2006. Across all programs, the NRI is mandated to use 40% of its funding to support mission-linked research. Since its inception in 1991, the NRI has funded competitive grants in the discipline of animal reproduction. Before 2004, the Animal Reproduction Program funded a broad range of projects encompassing almost every subdiscipline in reproductive biology of farm animals, including aquatic species important to the aquaculture industry and laboratory animals. During FY 2004, the NRI Animal Reproduction Program narrowed the focus of its funding priorities to 5 issue-based topics in an effort to make greater measurable improvements in a few high-impact areas over the next 10 years. Funding priorities were narrowed further in FY 2006 to 3 subdisciplines based, in part, on recommendations that emerged from a stakeholder workshop conducted by Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in August 2004. In FY 2003, Congress authorized expenditure of up to 20% of the funds appropriated to the NRI to support projects that integrate at least 2 of the 3 functions of research, education, and extension. In FY 2004, the Animal Reproduction Program included a funding priority for integrated projects focused primarily on infertility in dairy cattle. The program funded its first integrated project in FY 2005. During FY 2002, increased emphasis on justification for the use of model systems (e.g., laboratory animals and in vitro systems) was included in the NRI request for applications. In FY 2006, applications proposing to primarily utilize nonagricultural animal models were excluded from the program. Currently, all proposed studies must be thoroughly justified in terms of their relevance to US animal agriculture and to program priorities identified within the request for applications.

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