Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $2 Million In Agricultural Research Funding For Cornell University

Jan 22, 2021

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced $1,974,745 million in federal funding for food and agriculture research at Cornell University. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) under their Water Quantity and Quality, Tactical Sciences Coordination Network, and the Food Safety and Defense research initiatives. These programs will support the development of sustainable food and agriculture defense against biological threats, innovative technology for food processing, and investments in improving irrigation systems. 

“Amidst the pandemonium of the pandemic, Cornell University is conducting vital research that will improve food access and give New Yorkers the peace of mind that the food on their tables is safe to eat,” said Senator Schumer. “The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in food security and safety across the state, and today’s federal funding is an investment into long-term, innovative solutions to address those issues. I will always fight to ensure research to improve food systems is fully supported, especially in these trying times.”  

“Investing in agricultural research is one of the best ways we can improve the quality of our water and food supply,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The world-renowned researchers at Cornell University work tirelessly to find innovative and long-term solutions for cleaner water, safer food, and to protect against biological threats. Every dollar invested in public health research and response is a win for New York and the entire nation.”

“We are grateful to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for their support to secure this federal funding,” said Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Committed to serving our Land-Grant mission  — here at CALS and with our partners at the College of Veterinary Medicine — these substantial food and agriculture grants will be instrumental in developing new insights and means to decontaminate water, yield healthy beef and dairy cattle and reduce risk of food-borne illnesses, for communities in New York state and across the nation.”  

The AFRI Water Quantity and Quality program was awarded $499,982 to improve the quality of nontraditional water sources by bioremediation of microplastics in sewage and wastewater. The program invests in research, education, and extension projects to develop nontraditional water irrigation systems that will improve irrigation practices for crops and livestock, nutrient management, and sustainable water agricultural ecosystems. 

The Tactical Sciences Coordination Network program received $1 million to conduct next-generation sequencing for early detection of transboundary and emerging pathogens. This research will improve the reliability of the U.S. food and agriculture system by implementing improved defense systems against biological threats to the national food supply, including pests and disease.  

The Food Safety and Defense program was awarded $474,763 to develop a data analytics platform to classify different species of Salmonella. This program focuses on technology to detect allergens, infections, and contaminants in food to improve the safety of food processing, manufacturing, and packaging.

Cornell University’s Awarded Programs, Project Titles, and Funding Listed Below:


Project Title  


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water Quantity and Quality Priority Area 

Improving Quality of Nontraditional Water Sources by Bioremediation of Microplastics In Sewage and Wastewater


Tactical Sciences Coordination Network Program

Early Detection of Transboundary and Emerging Bovine Pathogens Through Next-Generation Sequencing


Food Safety and Defense Program

Development of Data Analytics Platform To Allow For Public Health Classification of Salmonella Serovars And Clades And Improved Focus Of Control Strategies To Achieve Beneficial Public Health Outcomes