On June 22nd, 2020, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a $90 million investment in research projects seeking to improve the sustainability of the nation’s food supply.

The awards will support nine projects at eight institutions addressing issues including animal, human, plant, and environmental health. This research investment is the second installment of a new program within NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program.

Dr. Chyi Lyi Liang, co-director of CEFS, and Dr. Yewande Fasina from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University joined a team of scholars led by the University of Connecticut to study poultry production and food safety. The project was awarded $10 million over a period of 5 years.

The US has the largest broiler industry producing 9 billion birds annually. Antibiotics have been an integral part of poultry production contributing in part to the sustained growth of broiler production, where antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) are used to enhance poultry performance, feed efficiency, and general health. Research indicates that antibiotic-restricted production can adversely affect bird health, production efficiency, and the environment. Therefore, in light of the FDA’s directive to phase out AGPs in poultry production, it is critical to ensure the sustainability of broiler production for meeting future demand. The project goal is to promote the sustainability of broiler production by targeting three major system components in the poultry sector, namely Chicken, Humans, and the Environment. To achieve this, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, educators and extension professionals has been assembled with the following objectives:

  1. Control necrotic enteritis and coccidiosis in broilers;
  2. Develop novel feed ingredients for improved performance;
  3. Promote bird welfare;
  4. Increase broiler meat safety;
  5. Control antimicrobial resistance dissemination in broiler production;
  6. Develop strategies for recycling of poultry litter;
  7. Enhance consumer confidence and acceptability of broiler meat;
  8. Develop an outreach program targeting poultry producers and other stakeholders;
  9. Empower the future workforce with skills needed for sustainable broiler production; and
  10. Assess the socio-economic-environmental impact of proposed interventions. This project will enhance broiler production sustainability by improving bird health, human health, and environmental health, and increasing consumer acceptability and economic returns to farmers.

Learn more in the news release.

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems is a partnership of North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  CEFS develops and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources, strengthen communities, improve health outcomes, and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.