Rodney Davis

09/17/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/17/2019 15:12

Davis Announces $10m USDA Grant Project that Includes Illinois State University

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) has awarded a $10,000,000 grant to a public-private partnership that includes Illinois State University.

'I'm proud of ISU's work to be part of this study to determine how pennycress can be used as another cover crop in winter to produce products like animal feed, biodiesel, and even jet fuel. NIFA grants are a major asset to universities and our communities not only because of the research they fund, but because of the opportunities they create for our local farmers and our local economy. We were successful in getting an increase in funding for these critical grants in last year's spending bills and I'm glad to see more of these funds going to universities here in Central Illinois,' said Davis.

'Investing in high-value research that promotes sustainably intensified agricultural practices, while addressing climate adaptation and limited resources, ensures long-term agricultural productivity and profitability and provides unprecedented opportunities for American farmers and producers. USDA continues to support our nation's farmers through investments that help strengthen our rural communities. If we want a sustainable food production system that also safeguards our natural resources, we need approaches that are both innovative and economically viable for our nation's farmers, ranchers and food producers. This ultimately benefits our nation's consumers,' said Scott Hutchins, USDA Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics.

About the Project

The project, 'Oilseed Pennycress - A New Cash Cover-Crop for the Midwest,' is aimed at developing pennycress as an oilseed crop that can be used as biofuel. Its goal is to help farmers throughout the U.S. Midwest Corn Belt and in other temperate-regions to grow pennycress as a winter-annual cash cover crop. Pennycress is a unique, high-yielding oilseed crop that can provide environmental benefits including reducing nitrogen runoff and preventing soil erosion.

Project partners include Illinois State University, Western Illinois University, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and the St. Louis-based crop development company CoverCress, Inc.

'From the time you harvest corn and soybeans till you plant in May there's mostly nothing in the ground. Pennycress is an annual oilseed cover crop that has the potential to produce 3 billion gallons of fuel per year,' said John Sedbrook, ISU Professor of Genetics.