USDA Capacity Animal Health and Disease Program

The USDA dedicates funding to increase animal health and disease reseach activities at accredited public or private veterinary schools or colleges through the Animal Health and Disease Research (AHDR) formula or capacity program.  The amount of funds NIFA provides to each institution is determined by statutorily defined formulas, including variables such as the rural population, number of farms, and poverty. University leaders decide the specific projects that will be supported by an institution’s capacity grant allotment, which must be aligned with NIFA-approved plans of work.  ISU CVM typically receives enough funding to support 5-7 seed grant projects fulfilling these criteria.

The scope of the research which may be conducted with AHDR funds is quite broad.  It includes research to promote the general welfare through improved health and productivity of domestic livestock, poultry, aquatic animals, and other income-producing animals which are essential to the nation's food supply and the welfare of producers and consumers of animal products; to improve the health of horses; to facilitate the effective treatment of, and where possible, prevent, diseases in both domesticated and wild species which, if not controlled, would be disastrous to the United States animal industries and endanger the Nation's food supply; to minimize livestock and poultry losses due to transportation and handling; to protect human health through control of animal diseases transmissible to humans; to improve methods of controlling reproduction of predators and other animals; and otherwise to promote the general welfare through expanded programs of research and extension to improve animal health.

Animal Health Research comprises basic and applied studies on infectious and noninfectious agents which impair the normal state of the animal body and/or that affect the performance of vital functions.  This includes research to improve the health of domestic livestock, poultry, aquatic animals and other income-producing animals and to facilitate the effective prevention of diseases in both domesticated and wild animals which, if not controlled, would endanger the livestock and poultry industries.

Also included is research to minimize transportation and handling losses; monitor the suitability of animals and animal products for human use; protect public health through control of animal diseases transmissible to humans and improve methods of controlling the reproduction of predators.

Studies are classified as AHDR if the studies relate directly to the health of a target livestock, poultry or aquatic animal species and includes laboratory studies, research on animal care as it relates to livestock health and well-being, investigations of metabolic diseases and reproductive diseases including endocrine dysfunctions such as anestrus.  Application of molecular biology to animal health problems is included.

Limits: research in nutrition, if no disease is produced or under study; research on reproductive biology per se is not included; research to improve performance is not included except as it relates to improved health.  The AHDR Program was enacted to address health and disease problems that exist pre-slaughter or pre-collection of animal products (pre-harvest).  So called "post-harvest problems" (post-slaughter or post-collection) of animal products are not included even thought these are extremely important and closerly related to pre-harvest problems.