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CSREES Update - February 4, 2009

CSREES Update, from the Office of the Administrator, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.


  • CSREES Announces Specialty Crop and Organic Funding Opportunities
  • Knox Leaves CSREES for FSIS
  • Call for Nominations
  • CSREES Participates in America Saves Week, February 22-March 1
  • CSREES News
  • CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • USDA, DOE Announce Up to $25 Million in Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative
  • Secretary Vilsack Announces More Than $6 Million to Train Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • NASS Releases 2007 Census of Agriculture
  • Vilsack Names Top Advisors
  • Secretary Of Agriculture Vilsack Lays Out Priorities, Extends Comment Period for Payment Limitations Rule − Withdraws Proposed $3 Million Cut to Fruit and Vegetable Program


  • MSU to Host NCRCRD



CSREES Announces Specialty Crop and Organic Funding Opportunities

CSREES announced $17.3 million in funds available for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). The funding amount represents an increase of nearly $15 million requested by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill. The OREI seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research and extension activities. The program funds projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high-quality organic agricultural products. Applications are due March 9.

CSREES announced $47.3 million in funds available for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). Nearly $28 million dollars were awarded in FY 2008, the first year of the program created by Congress through the 2008 Farm Bill. The SCRI was established to solve critical industry issues through research and extension activities. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. SCRI will give priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional or trans-disciplinary, and include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public. Applications are due April 15.

Knox Leaves CSREES for FSIS

Paularie N. Knox is leaving CSREES for a program specialist position with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Outreach and Partnership Division in the Office of Outreach, Employee Education, and Training. Knox was a CSREES program specialist in the Food Safety/Food Quality program for Competitive Programs Unit. She worked as a county extension agency for Pulaski County, AR, prior to joining CSREES. She received her B.S. degree in Regulatory Science/Agricultural Concentration from University of Arkansas–Pine Bluff and her M.S. degree in Agriculture and Extension Education from University of Arkansas.

CSREES each year promotes innovative teaching practices and rewards exceptional faculty in the food and agricultural sciences by recognizing 10 outstanding teachers who demonstrate sustained and meritorious excellence in the classroom. The National Awards Program for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences honors a select group of distinguished college and university teachers who excel at teaching, make a positive impact on student learning, and influence other teachers by example. The awards program focuses national attention on the teaching role; a role that is fundamental to the development of the scientific and professional expertise essential to the future growth and progress of our nation's food and agricultural system. Recipients are honored during a national awards ceremony where they receive an engraved plaque and a cash award to support continued instructional improvement at the individual’s academic institution.

CSREES must receive faculty nominations no later than March 16 for consideration in this year’s competition. Nomination guidelines and additional submission information is on our CSREES Web site.

CSREES works in partnership with Cooperative Extension in nearly 30 states to encourage better personal savings habits during America Saves Week 2009, February 22–March 1. CSREES is a major federal partner in America Saves Week, a coalition effort led by the Consumer Federation of America’s America Saves campaign and the American Savings Education Council. America Saves Week, an annual event first organized in 2007, promotes personal savings and helps citizens learn strategies to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, and save for a home, education, or retirement. “We are delighted to welcome CSREES as a partner again this year,” said Nancy Register, director of the America Saves campaign. “The organization commits significant resources to educating the public and improving savings behavior, which is especially important in tough economic times.”  In addition to community-based seminars, workshops, and “build wealth, not debt” events, Cooperative Extension has online resources at eXtension with a special emphasis on managing in tough times. For more information about how to become involved, including a listing of extension offices with plans in place visit the America Saves Week Web site, or contact Jane Schuchardt, CSREES national program leader for the Economic and Community Systems Unit.

Social and Economic Impacts of Biotechnology

Biotechnology has the potential to substantially increase agricultural productivity, influence markets, and in some cases invent new uses for traditional crops. However, concerns accompany these potential benefits. A group of scientists from Virginia examined the benefits, costs, and risks associated with agricultural products arising from biotechnology research. With funding from CSREES, George Norton and colleagues at Virginia Polytechnic Institute focused their study on two crops: tobacco and rice. They chose tobacco because research is underway to discover pharmaceutical uses for the crop. Rice was chosen because it is the subject of a large biotechnology program, with significant implications for U.S. producers, as well as for producers and low-income consumers in the developing world. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Social and Economic Impacts of Biotechnology.

Hard-core foodies, bakers, consumers, and those who just feel the need to knead take heart—dough-making efficiency is on the rise. With funding from CSREES, scientists in New Jersey used the Farinograph, a classic lab-scale batch mixer, to analyze the kneading process to understand the mixing properties needed to make consistent and top-quality baked products. Researchers from Rutgers used this knowledge to develop computer models that simulate the path following a particle of wheat dough during the mixing process. These models provide scientists the opportunity to improve quality control and efficiency in the baking industry. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Scientists Simulate Mixing the Perfect Dough.

As populations expand into rural areas, more people are turning up their noses at malodorous livestock operations. Fortunately, a multistate team of researchers is working to introduce a breath of fresh air into these important facilities and reduce the environmental impact of animal waste. With funding from CSREES, Alan Sutton and colleagues at Purdue University, Michigan State University, and the University of Missouri developed and implemented diet modification strategies that reduce nutrient excretion and enhance air quality around pork operations. In other words, they proved that what goes into the pig is important to what comes out. The modified diets reduce nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in manure, which, in turn, may better meet crop needs as fertilizer and limit the impact of these elements on the surrounding environment. The new diet also reduces odor levels surrounding swine facilities, which may lessen the concern from neighbors and increase the acceptance of the pork industry by surrounding communities. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read New Diet is a Breath of Fresh Air to Animal Facilities.

The livestock industry accounts for almost $100 billion of the annual agricultural gross domestic product. Scientists now believe a new tool, called a "snip chip," may revolutionize the livestock industry and help farmers and ranchers produce even more. With funding from CSREES, Agricultural Research Service, and industry partners, a team of scientists in Missouri and Maryland developed the snip chip to identify DNA markers for economically important traits in livestock, including disease susceptibility, milk production, reproduction, and growth. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Identifying Economically Important Traits in Animal Genomes.

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Higher Education Program: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

February 6, 2009

Irma Lawrence

Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

February 13, 2009

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy: A Joint Research Solicitation - USDA, DOE

February 18, 2009

Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Biomass Research and Development Initiative Competitive Grants Program (BRDI)

March 6, 2009

Carmela Bailey

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

March 9, 2009

Thomas Bewick

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

April 15, 2009

Thomas Bewick

CSREES advertises all of its funding opportunities through "Find Grant Opportunities" on the Grants.gov Web site. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an e-mail notification service based on these parameters.


WASHINGTON, January 30, 2009 − The U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) announced up to $25 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products, subject to annual appropriations.

"USDA is committed to research that will support President Obama's goal of dramatically increasing the production of biofuels in the United States," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These grants will help support the development of a sustainable domestic biofuels industry by broadening the nation's energy sources as well as improving the efficiency of renewable fuels."

USDA and DOE are issuing this joint funding opportunity announcement for several types of projects aimed at increasing the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. The projects will aim to create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass. Advanced biofuels produced from these types of sources are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA, DOE Announce Up to $25 Million in Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative.

WASHINGTON, January 29, 2009 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $6 million in grants to institutions and organizations that conduct training, outreach, and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. “These programs are designed to help producers develop new profitable farming practices and increase their farm or ranch income,” Vilsack said. “President Obama has pledged to ensure that government is inclusive and USDA is committed to that pledge and to opportunities that support a diverse population of producers who might not otherwise seek our support.” Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Secretary Vilsack Announces More Than $6 Million to Train Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the long-awaited results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The census, conducted every 5 years, is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Every agency and every mission area within USDA uses census data on a daily basis. The census provides the factual data that underpins all of our programs and services. It tells us where the producers are, who they are, how they are changing, what they are producing, and how they are producing it. Visit the 2007 Census of Agriculture Web site to access the results, or contact NASS at nass@nass.usda.gov for more information.

WASHINGTON, January 23, 2009 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named John Norris as his chief of staff and Carole Jett as deputy chief of staff. "This is the first step in the process of quickly building a team of diligent, competent, and inclusive leaders to complement the excellent career staff already in place," Vilsack said. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Vilsack Names Top Advisors.

WASHINGTON, January 26, 2009 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced he will extend the comment period for the 2008 Farm Bill Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility rulemaking process. Vilsack discussed his priorities as Secretary of Agriculture during a teleconference call with agriculture and other reporters across the country and said that as part of the regulatory review process outlined by the White House and Office of Management and Budget, he is directing the Department to extend the comment period for the payment limits rule for an additional 60 days.

"Let's be clear — in no way is this move a signal that we will modify the rules for the 2009 crop year," Vilsack said. "Sign up has begun and it's important that clear and consistent rules remain in place so that producers can prepare for the crop year and manage their risk appropriately." To date, USDA has received only seven comments on the payment limits rule and Vilsack says that by extending the comment period additional farmers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Lays Out Priorities, Extends Comment Period For Payment Limitations Rule — Withdraws Proposed $3 Million Cut to Fruit and Vegetable Program.


Michigan State University (MSU) was selected as the host institution for the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) beginning July 1. The search for a new host institution was initiated after Dr. Cornelia Butler Flora, the current director, informed the NCRCRD board of directors that she was returning to Iowa State University as a faculty member in 2009. 

A competitive search process was managed by the North Central Research Association (NCRA), the North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA), and the NCRCRD Board, in cooperation with CSREES. A Request for Proposals was circulated to the land-grant institutions in the region’s 12 states. Walt Armbruster, Farm Foundation president emeritus, chaired a review and recommendations committee that included two representatives from NCCEA, two from NCRA, one from the board of directors, and a Cooperative Extension System director from outside the region. The committee reviewed applications from three institutions, supplemental question responses, and webinar discussions with the applicants to reach its recommendations. The Joint NCRA and NCCEA Executive Committees endorsed the recommendations and voted to select MSU.

Dr. Scott Loveridge, MSU Extension’s state leader for Community and Economic Development, will serve as the center’s transitional director and chair a nationwide search for the next NCRCRD director. Contact Sally Maggard, CSREES national program leader for the Economic and Community Systems Unit, for more information.


For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. CSREES UPDATE is published biweekly. The next regular issue is planned for February 18, 2009. Submit news items to newsletter@csrees.usda.gov by February 11.

Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, CSREES Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her at jrude@csrees.usda.gov.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to jrude@csrees.usda.gov. In the body of the message, type: subscribe csrees-update OR unsubscribe csrees-update.

Back issues of CSREES UPDATE are available on the CSREES Web site.

Colien Hefferan, Administrator

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.