Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has awarded more than $11 million in grants to 15 states to support research, education and outreach in animal genomics that will enhance the protection and safety of agriculture and the food supply.

"President Obama understands that to remain globally competitive in the livestock business and to continue to produce safe, nutritious products from livestock requires the application of cutting-edge genetics and breeding programs," Vilsack said. "Investing in good basic and applied research will help pin-point genetic differences that result in superior animal products of the best quality for the consumer."

Successful application of this research will reduce the number and severity of animal disease outbreaks and decrease dependence on the widespread use of antibiotics.

The Fiscal Year 2008 projects were awarded through USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) National Research Initiative Animal Genome Program which seeks to develop sound, practical, science-based knowledge that can be shared with other researchers, farmers and consumers of U.S. animal products.

These awards also support the training of the next generation of scientists by providing support for 25 post-doctoral fellows and 15 graduate students.

The 2008 farm bill did not renew the NRI, but did authorize creation of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). More information about AFRI can be found online at www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/afri/pdfs/program_announcement.pdf.

Included among the Southeast area institutions receiving grants were:

Auburn University, $725,000.

University of Delaware, $125,000.

University of Georgia, $449,575.

USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS)/Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Md., $625,000.

University of Maryland, $906,098.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, $585,613.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.