Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture increases support for research, outreach in 2018

Michigan’s animal agriculture industry will receive a boost in research and outreach for 2018 through a 4-year-old initiative called the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture.

Paul Bartlett

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s animal agriculture industry will receive a boost in research and outreach for 2018 through a 4-year-old initiative called the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA).

The partnership, now among Michigan State University (MSU), animal agriculture commodity organizations and the state of Michigan, has expanded from $600,000 in 2015 to $3.1 million this year.

The increased investment is helping researchers address some of animal agriculture’s most pressing problems, such as protecting the environment, combatting antibiotic resistance, managing infectious diseases and improving animal welfare.

“It’s crucial that as our support increases, we rise to the task of offering long-term solutions for the animal agriculture industry,” said George Smith, the associate director of MSU AgBioResearch and associate dean for research in the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The grant process remains extremely competitive and rigorous, ensuring that the quality of our work is paramount. This year’s projects represent a diverse collection of the issues we’re confronting every day.”

Grants are awarded in one of three categories: research, extension or seed funding. In 2018, 27 projects were chosen for funding.

For example, MSU researchers Paul Bartlett and Paul Coussens are furthering their efforts into mitigating the spread of bovine leukemia virus (BLV), a retrovirus that can weaken immune system function and lead to additional disease development in dairy and beef cattle.

Bartlett is examining the utility of removing infected cattle from herds to control transmission, while Coussens is looking at mucosal immune responses and the effect of routine immunizations on BLV-infected cattle.

Madonna Benjamin, an assistant professor in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, is focusing on the development of low-cost biometrics for sows to improve individual health and welfare.

Other projects include MSU Extension educator Jeannine Schweihofer creating workforce development training for the meat industry and MSU Extension specialist Richard Ehrhardt generating web-based, multimedia educational materials for the MSU small ruminant extension program.

For a complete list of 2018 projects, visit maaa.msu.edu/projects.

“Our partners representing commodity organizations and the state of Michigan have seen the value of M-AAA, and I want to thank them for their continued support,” said Ron Bates, MSU Extension agriculture and agribusiness director. “I appreciate their recognition of the challenges facing animal agriculture and the desire to address them in a timely manner.”

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