Federal Grants Help Fund Aquaculture Research

David Morrison  |  10/4/2004 4:25:42 AM

Farm-raised crawfish contributed nearly $47 million in on-farm income to Louisiana in 2003.

Nine LSU AgCenter aquaculture research projects recently received additional funding with the distribution of nearly $293,000 in earmarked funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grants will be used to support research with catfish, crawfish, hybrid striped bass, alligator and freshwater drum, said Dr. David Morrison, associate vice chancellor in the LSU AgCenter.

The researchers who received the grants will use the funds to improve production efficiency, develop new management strategies, prevent disease, develop value-added products from processing wastes and improve food safety, Morrison said.

The special research grants program concentrates on problems of national and local interest that go beyond the normal federal funding mechanisms, according to the USDA. Congress earmarks the funds through annual appropriations.

Aquaculture contributed nearly $162 million in on-farm income to Louisiana in 2003, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Farm-raised crawfish contributed more than 29 percent of that farm income, while farm-raised catfish account for nearly 12 percent, and farm-raised alligators mean more than 9 percent of it.

By allocating the special grant money among several projects each year, the LSU AgCenter assures the funds are supplements and not necessary components of any single research project.

"While these have been annually appropriated by Congress, we don’t want to be overly dependent on them for continual funding," Morrison said of the special grants.

Morrison said the LSU AgCenter uses the funds to support preliminary work in areas that may later earn funding from other sources.

"We want to add funding to existing programs to address emerging problems," he said. "We’re looking for proposals that are most appropriate and have the most relevant impact."

To help assure relevance, Morrison said, scientists are encouraged to submit proposals for how they would use a grant. Then the proposals go through a review process that evaluates the relevance, importance and technical soundness of all the proposals and selects those that are deemed strongest for funding.

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