Priorities and Funding

What are MSU AgBioResearch's research priorities?

MSU AgBioResearch programs are continually evaluated for relevance and progress to meet changing needs. These programs address the research priorities of Michigan, but are also linked to national goals and new initiatives.

The five priority research areas are:

  • Food and Health. Microbial and chemical food safety, nutritional enhancement of foods, nutritional immunology, consumer choice and diet, food security, nutrition and epidemiology.
  • Environmental Stewardship and Natural Resources Policy and Management. Land use policy and management, air quality, soil conservation, waste management and use of waste products, landscape ecology, ecosystem management and water research (including water quality, watershed management and water use for agriculture and natural resources businesses).
  • Enhancing Profitability in Agriculture and Natural Resources. Basic research in the plant and animal sciences to reduce dependency on chemicals and enhance resistance to diseases, insects and environmental stresses; integrated crop management; and the identification and development of value-added agriculture opportunities for Michigan.
  • Secure Food and Fiber System. Basic and applied research on new, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, invasive species (insects, plants, pathogens and aquatic animals) and agro-security.
  • Families and Community Vitality. Community and economic development, recreation/tourism, youth, aging, family dynamics, demographics, and rural and urban community security.

As programs develop and evolve, MSU AgBioResearch strives to maintain a balance between applied and basic research and rely heavily on the input of its constituents in identifying research priorities.

How are projects funded?

MSU AgBioResearch projects are funded through state, federal and private funds. In Michigan, state contributions represent more than 80 percent of the total AgBioResearch annual budget.

Michigan commodity organizations contribute research funds to improve production, processing and marketing of their respective products, and foundations and industries contribute funds toward basic research.

Rackham Research Endowment

The Agricultural College of the State of Michigan was three years old when Horace H. Rackham was born in Macomb County. He grew up to become a Detroit attorney who, with his partner, drew up incorporation papers in 1903 for his neighbor Henry Ford's new company. Ignoring advice, Rackham bought 50 shares of stock in the fledgling Ford Motor Company, using a truck farm he owned as collateral to borrow money for the purchase.

Ford Motor Company was wildly successful, providing substantial dividends, and in 1913 Rackham quit his law practice. In 1919, Edsel Ford (acting for his father, Henry) purchased Rackham's stock for $12.5 million dollars. At the time of his death in 1933, Rackham's wealth was valued at an estimated $16.5 million.

Meanwhile, the Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science was making a name for itself with research advances.

Proposals are solicited every three years as projects are completed. The board reviews proposals and awards funds as seed money to leverage researchers into a position to obtain additional funding. Second- and third-year funding is based on progress of the research and funding available in the endowment. An additional requirement for the third year is evidence of soliciting external support.