Photo courtesy of USDA



Land-grant universities don’t shy away from collaborating to tackle immensely complex and daunting problems for the benefit of all people. For example, the recent bleak news from the Global Report on Food Crises, an alliance of humanitarian organizations founded by the U.N. and European Union, found that 258 million people in 58 countries faced acute food insecurity and required urgent food aid last year. This resulted from effects of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. However, land-grant universities are creating new paths to strengthen resilience, advance options for food production, and increase food security.

Agricultural research, education, and Extension professionals provide critical scientific expertise, educational foundations, and community outreach that leverages innovation and accelerates urban agriculture and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). This creates opportunities to grow nourishing food with efficient and environmentally friendly methods throughout urban, suburban, and rural communities. These efforts also create significant options to produce food year-round in regions impacted by extreme weather. Ultimately, this can help build a future with increased food security for hundreds of millions throughout the world. 

Source: U.N.: 258 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2022 - Los Angeles Times


According to the Multistate Research Fund Impacts, 24 researchers from land-grant universities worked together to develop practices and tools that help growers efficiently manage controlled environment resources. Growers who adopted the recommended facility designs, management practices, and tools have seen energy savings of 5% to 30% and average-sized businesses have saved $20,000 per year in operating and maintenance costs. Many technologies developed by members of this project are now widely used industry standards. 

Land-grant universities are working on a range of urban ag and CEA research. A few examples of NIFA-funded projects are:

  • Evaluating controlled environment production techniques in urban settings for small-scale growers
  • Developing innovative systems to diversify production of strawberries in urban agriculture
  • Developing sustainable aquaponics systems to enhance resiliency of urban, indoor, and emerging food systems
  • Mitigating food safety risks in indoor leafy greens production.

See more information and examples here.

Source: Managing Controlled Environments Efficiently (NE-1335 | 2013-2018)


The growth of the CEA industry requires a prepared workforce to competently handle the complex operations, such as carefully controlling factors including temperature, humidity, and light. There is currently a shortage of skilled labor, which restrains the industry’s growth.

However, educators at land-grants universities are training students on various aspects of CEA and urban agriculture to prepare them for productive careers in these growing fields. Academic programs offer a range of interdisciplinary coursework and hands-on learning. Examples include learning opportunities in:

  • Engineering greenhouse systems, sensors, and automation
  • Breeding plants for improved growth, development, and adaption
  • Optimizing resource use efficiency including water, fertilizer, energy for lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Advancing business, management, and communications skills.


The Cooperative Extension System, a trusted source of expertise and information, has networks in place to identify needs, transform, and up-scale urban agriculture and CEA. With offices in most U.S. counties, Cooperative Extension offers education on research-based food production, building new businesses, and developing workforce skills in rural, urban, and suburban communities.

Extension professionals’ innovation and creativity is demonstrated in these efforts to scale up inner-city small farms, community and school gardens, backyard and rooftop horticulture, and CEA in communities throughout the U.S. To learn more, see: Advocacy Toolkit (

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

The Urban, Indoor, and other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative (UIE) is a NIFA competitive grant program to support research, education, and extension activities that facilitate development of urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production systems.

In March 2023, NIFA announced investments of $9.4 million for urban, indoor and other emerging agricultural production research, education, and extension activities. For more information, see here.


USDA Seeks Members for Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominations for four positions on the Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Nominations will be open to public from May 15, 2023, to July 15, 2023. Details are here.



Land-grant university research in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is revolutionizing food production methods and increasing resilience in urban settings: [see if your institution has a project here: Display Search Results ( or share your own relevant PROJECT.]

Are you passionate about sustainability and food production? Land-grant universities like [@SCHOOL] provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in [greenhouse engineering, plant breeding, business/management/communications skills, etc.] to support rural and urban agriculture and cultivate a greener future.

Interested in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) but don’t know where to start? Contact your local Cooperative Extension office! Our expert agents offer resources and education to help scale up [inner-city small farms, community and school gardens, backyard and rooftop horticulture, etc.]: [PROJECT] @EXT100Years

Feel free to reach out to us with specific tweets that you would like @AgIsAmerica to retweet. Please email your request to Kim Scotto at or use #AgIsAmerica. 




Ag is America 




Sec. Vilsack (Secretary of Agriculture) 




USDA National Institute of Food & Ag 




Cooperative Extension 




National Dairy Month, #NationalDairyMonth #RealDairyRealDelicious
National Great Outdoors Month, #GreatOutdoorsMonth
National Pollinator Month, #PollinatorMonth, #BeeCounted

June 3-11 – National Fishing and Boating Week, #GetOnBoard, #FirstCatch
June 4-10 – National Garden Week, #NationalGardenWeek
June 19-25 – Pollinator Week, #PollinatorWeek

June 1 – World Milk Day, #WorldMilkDay, #RaiseAGlass
June 1 – World Reef Awareness Day, #WorldReefDay
June 3 – National Egg Day, #NationalEggDay
June 3 – National Prairie Day, #NationalPrairieDay
June 3 – National Trails Day, #NationalTrailsDay
June 4 – National Cheese Day, #NationalCheeseDay
June 5 – World Environment Day, #WED, #WorldEnvironmentDay, #BeatPlasticPollution
June 6 – World Pest Day, #WorldPestDay
June 6 – National Higher Education Day, #NationalHigherEducationDay
June 7 – World Food Safety Day, #WorldFoodSafetyDay, #SafeRecipes
June 8 – World Ocean Day, #WorldOceanDay
June 10 – National Herbs and Spices Day, #HerbsAndSpicesDay
June 18 – Father’s Day, #FathersDay
June 19 – Juneteenth, #Juneteenth
June 21 – First Day of Summer
June 27 – National Onion Day, #NationalOnionDay

source: June 2023 - National Day Calendar