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Program Synopsis: Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Programs

Within NIFA, integrated is defined as bringing the three components of the agricultural knowledge system (research, education, and extension) together around a problem area or activity. Integration may be done at the project level or more generally at the program level mixing research, education, and extension project work. A project or program is optimally integrated if the components complement one another and are truly necessary for the ultimate success of the project or program. Integrated Programs additionally support multifunctional, multi-institutional, and multi-state programs to better realize research, education, and extension needs and objectives. In turn, the advantage of integrating the research, education, and extension functions of a project or program is to speed up the process of generating, translating, and transferring new technology and knowledge into practical applications for adoption by a wide range of producers and the general public.

Funding by NIFA Integrated Programs is provided through a number of legal authorities, including Sections 401 and 406 of the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA)(7 U.S.C. 7626), Section 7218 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, and subsection (c)(1)(A) of Section 2 of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (Pub. L. no. 89-106).

The Integrated Research, Education, and Extension (IREE) Competitive Grants Program was authorized in Section 406 (7 U.S.C. 7626) of AREERA to fund integrated, multifunctional agricultural research, education, and extension activities. While the overall approach to solving critical agricultural issues, priorities, or problems will be through an integration of research, education, and extension activities, within IREE individual programs may request applications that are research, education, or extension only, or a combination thereof. Program areas include the National Integrated Water Quality (NIWQ) program, the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative (NIFSI), and the Integrated Pest Management programs which include Crops at Risk (CAR), Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program (RAMP), the Regional IPM Centers, Methyl Bromide Transitions (MBT), and Organic Transitions. NIFA administers IREE by determining priorities in U.S. agriculture through Agency stakeholder input processes in consultation with the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board (NAREEEAB).

The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) is authorized by Section 7218 of FSRIA, which amended Section 1672B of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 4925B) allowing the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the NAREEEAB, to make competitive grants to support research and extension activities regarding organically grown and processed agricultural commodities.

The Special Research Grants Program – Pest Management Alternatives Research (PMAP) is authorized via subsection (c)(1)(A) of Section 2 of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (Pub. L. no. 89-106), as amended (7 U.S.C. 450(c)(1)(A)). The purpose of PMAP is to provide support for and encourage the development and implementation of integrated pest management practices, tactics, and systems for specific pest problems while reducing human and environmental risks.

Section 401 (7 U.S.C. 7621) of AREERA authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) program. Last offered in FY 2001, this integrated research, extension, and education competitive grants program addressed critical emerging U.S. agricultural and rural issues related to future food production; environmental quality and natural resource management; farm income; or rural, economic, and business and community development policy.

In FY 2003, Section 737 of the General Provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution (Pub. L. 108-7) provided NIFA with the authority to use up to 20 percent of the amount made available in the Act for the National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program to carry out a competitive grants program under the same terms and conditions as those provided in Section 401 of AREERA. Congress has continued that provision in subsequent years, and in FY 2008 it grew to 26% of NRI funds. The NRI seeks to support projects that bring together at least two of the three components of the agricultural knowledge system (research, education, and extension) around a single problem or activity to address identified agricultural problems as described in the RFA. The programs listed in the RFA were developed within the context of the authorized purposes of USDA research, education, and extension and within the framework of the NIFA Strategic Plan. In addition, the NRI obtains input from Congress, the NAREEEAB, and a number of university, scientific, and agricultural committees and organizations.


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