Texas A&M System Receives Federal Grant from Farm Bill

Texas A&M AgriLife Research has been awarded $450,000 in federal funding from the Farm Bill to address specific critical activities for Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) investigations.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service made the announcement in January of $5.2 million in federal grant funding through the National Disease Preparedness and Response program. These projects will advance the capabilities, capacity, and readiness of the nation’s animal agriculture sector responders through training and exercises. They will be led by State animal health authorities and land-grant universities in 25 States. The projects will address training and exercise priorities in all major livestock industries and all regions of the United States, helping USDA enhance their existing disease emergency preparedness and response efforts.

Texas A&M AgriLife researchers will develop an online training program for foreign animal disease diagnosticians. The training program will include a media-rich, sterilizable field guide and deliver just-in-time online continuing education to enhance veterinarians’ capabilities in conducting high-consequence disease outbreak investigations. The principal investigator for the project is Dr. Nicola Ritter, instructional assistant professor in Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Director of the Center for Educational Technologies.

“This award from the USDA will help strengthen training capacity to respond to potential outbreaks of emerging and foreign animal diseases that pose the greatest risk to U.S. agriculture,”

said Dr. Ritter.

This project will build upon the success of previous cooperative agreements with USDA APHIS. Dr. Ritter and the USDA has created training resources on foreign animal disease outbreaks and has made these resources available at https://usdatraining.com. More information on the field guide is available on the Center for Educational Technologies website at: https://www.tamucet.org/portfolio/foreign-animal-disease-investigation-manual/

The 2018 Farm Bill provided funding for the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) as part of an overall strategy to help prevent animal pests and diseases from entering the United States and reduce the spread and impact of potential disease incursions. On January 22, 2020, USDA APHIS awarded $10.2 million to support disease prevention and emergency response training. This award cycle 39 proposals were accepted through the NADPRP, with the Center for Educational Technologies at Texas A&M AgriLife receiving one of the largest grants.

About Research at the Center for Educational Technologies: At the forefront of veterinary education, the CET is advancing education by developing, implementing and evaluating innovative educational tools and resources. Research conducted at the CET represented annual expenditures of more than $1 million in fiscal year 2019. The CET continues to serve our state, nation, and world through various research, teaching, and entrepreneurial endeavors – all of which are centered on providing engaging online educational resources.