WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Nov. 24 a new partnership with Ireland and Northern Ireland that will allow the three countries to maximize investments in research intended to help solve global agriculture-related issues.

“This international partnership offers exciting opportunities to take on issues that must be addressed if we are to meet food security and safety challenges both now and in the future,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Ann Bartuska, who led a contingent of U.S. government officials to Dublin to formalize the partnership. “Collaboration among the United States, Ireland, and Northern Ireland spans many decades, and we enthusiastically welcome this new endeavor.”

U.S. funding will be provided through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), with additional funding from the Republic of Ireland Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DARM) and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). The partnership between NIFADARM and DARD leverages scientific and financial resources to focus on strategic research priorities of mutual interest.

Four 2016 priority areas have been identified by the partnership, including understanding plant associated microorganisms and plant-microbe interactions; plant-associated insects and nematodes; animal health and disease; and animal nutrition, growth, and lactation.

Scientists from the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Ireland may develop collaborative applications and submit those, via a U.S. scientist, through an existing NIFA Request for Applications that addresses the pilot research priorities.

In addition to the NIFA partnership, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are engaged in additional informal collaborative research endeavors with colleagues and institutions in Ireland in areas such crop and animal production, food safety, and natural resource management.  These have been conducted under several agreements between ARS and Teagasc, Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority. The latest, with University College Dublin Centre for Food Safety, continues through April 2017.