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CSREES Update - March 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.


  • New Interim NPL for Sustainable Agriculture

  • Reminder—Nominations for 2009 USDA National Awards Program for Excellence

  • CSREES Sponsors 2009 Ag Outlook Forum Diversity Program

  • CSREES News

  • CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • USDA Awards More Than $11 Million to Improve Animals through Research, Education, and Extension in Animal Genomics

  • Merrigan to be Nominated as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture


  • NAREEE Advisory Board Plans Listening Session



Rob Hedberg is the new interim national program leader (NPL) for CSREES Sustainable Agriculture in the Economic and Community Systems Unit. He will provide national leadership for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program that operates through four regional offices. As NPL, he will also work cooperatively with internal and external partners to enhance the research foundation for sustainable agricultural practices and education. Hedberg may be reached via e-mail at rhedberg@csrees.usda.gov or telephone: 202-720-5384. He is located in Room 4432 Waterfront Centre.

The deadline approaches... nominations for the 2009 USDA National Awards Program for Excellence in University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences must be received at CSREES no later than March 16, 2009. Please forward this important notice to appropriate faculty and administrators to recognize your exceptional teaching faculty.

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. Nomination guidelines and additional submission information is on the CSREES Web site.

For the third year, CSREES and the World Agricultural Outlook Board coordinated and sponsored the 2009 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Diversity Program. The program gave agencies, corporations, and organizations the opportunity to sponsor junior and senior undergraduate agriculture students to attend the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, held February 26-28 in Crystal City, VA. It was a unique opportunity for students, who represented the diversity of American agriculture, to learn about agribusiness, the latest research, future trends, and policy in contemporary agriculture. USDA launched the Diversity Program in 2007, and focused on students in agriculture-related majors at Land-Grant Colleges and Universities. Ten undergraduate students participated the first year, and 17 students from the 1890 and 1862 land-grant institutions participated in 2008. This year, 18 students attended from the 1862, 1890, and Hispanic-serving institutions. USDA’s Economic Research Service also sponsors the Ag Outlook Forum Diversity Program. Visit the USDA Web site for more program information. Antonio McLaren, CSREES program specialist, and Henry Bahn, national program leader from the Economic and Community Systems Unit, were the CSREES coordinators.

The pre-application deadline for the USDA/Department of Energy (DOE) Biomass Research and Development Initiative has been extended from March 6 to March 10. USDA and DOE announced on January 30 they planned to jointly award 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.

The funding opportunity announcement aims to fund projects designed to increase 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 CSREES Newsroom to read the Biomass Research and Development Initiative Pre-application Deadline Extended to March 10.

Urbanization of traditional farmland has led to an increase in the mix of agricultural equipment and private motor vehicles on public roads. Recognizing the need to quantify and qualify the risks, the CSREES North Central Regional Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension released a white paper identifying research, policy, and extension and outreach priorities for operating agricultural equipment on public roads.

Federal, state, and local government bodies rarely give this area of roadway safety much attention because agriculture-related collisions comprise a low percentage (0.2 percent) of all vehicle collisions. The impacts of changing demographics that characterize the urban/rural interface are not well researched or understood. Therefore, the committee identified possible research needs, design and practice standards, goals and guidelines for farm equipment manufacturers, standard-setting organizations, and government agencies. The report addresses the following areas: the rural/urban traffic interface, state, and federal regulations, higher speed tractors, and transport of workers on public roadways with farm equipment. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read CSREES North Central Region Multistate Committee Releases White Paper on Operating Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads.

The New Year is a time of resolutions when many people pledge to lose weight and eat a more healthful diet. This year, scientists may have a new weapon in the arsenal to help people win the battle of the bulge. A chemical secreted by muscle may control fat deposited in humans and animals, a key factor in the fight against obesity and in the agricultural production of leaner, healthier meat. Muscle cells release a protein factor, called interleukin-15 (IL-15), which has been shown to reduce the growth of fat cells. Unfortunately, IL-15 is normally released into the bloodstream in small amounts. With funding from CSREES, researchers at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Tacoma, WA, have developed mice whose muscles produced higher amounts of IL-15. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Research Identifies Chemical to Reduce Fat Deposition.

While not as menacing as the sci-fi B-movie cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, agricultural scientists have discovered a dark side to, gulp, the earthworm. Worms may delight gardeners with their ability to aerate the soil, but these organisms are not native to the northern regions of the United States and may be responsible for altering an ecosystem that developed in a worm-free environment. With funding from CSREES, scientists in Ohio are exploring a sinister link between earthworms and common allergens. Scientists believe that when the last advance of glaciers plowed through northern portions of the North American continent, they not only carved out and flattened land features, but they also eradicated the common earthworm. The gardener’s best friend was reintroduced to the region only recently by colonists – and with mixed results. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Blame Your Allergies on the Earthworm.

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (AFRI)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Biomass Research and Development Initiative Competitive Grants Program (BRDI)

March 10, 2009

Carmela Bailey

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

March 9, 2009

Thomas Bewick

Special Research Grants Program:  Pest Management Alternatives Research

April 7, 2009

Monte Johnson

Resident Instruction Grants for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas

April 10, 2009

Gregory Smith

Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 Program (Tribal Colleges Extension Services Program)

April 13, 2009

Joan F. Gill

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

April 15, 2009

Thomas Bewick

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Enhancing Ecosystem Services from Agricultural Lands: Management, Quantification, and Developing Decision Support Tools

May 26, 2009

Diana Jenkins

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, March 2, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded more than $11 million in grants to 15 states to support research, education, and outreach in animal genomics that will enhance the protection and safety of agriculture and the food supply.

"President Obama understands that to remain globally competitive in the livestock business and to continue to produce safe, nutritious products from livestock requires the application of cutting-edge genetics and breeding programs," Vilsack said. "Investing in good basic and applied research will help pinpoint genetic differences that result in superior animal products of the best quality for the consumer."

Successful application of this research will reduce the number and severity of animal disease outbreaks and decrease dependence on the widespread use of antibiotics. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Awards More Than $11 Million to Improve Animals through Research, Education, and Extension in Animal Genomics.

WASHINGTON, February 24, 2009 - President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Kathleen A. Merrigan to be deputy secretary of Agriculture.

"We at the U.S. Department of Agriculture welcome the President's intention to nominate Dr. Merrigan," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "She will bring to USDA extensive expertise in agricultural marketing and nutrition and in legislative affairs and will provide excellent, experienced leadership as we move President Obama's agricultural and nutritional agenda forward." Merrigan currently is an assistant professor and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment M.S. and Ph.D. Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Merrigan to be Nominated as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

The Specialty Crop Committee of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board invites individuals to participate in the Specialty Crop Listening Session on March 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Headquarters, 800 Trafalgar Court, Suite 200, Maitland, FL. Participants may provide stakeholder input on specific issues related to specialty crops as part of a Congressionally-mandated study on the scope and effectiveness of research, extension, and economics programs affecting the industry. The committee will develop a final report with its findings and recommendations and submit it through the NAREEE Advisory Board to the Secretary of Agriculture and Congress.

Participants will each have 5 minutes to present oral remarks and they must provide a written copy of those remarks. You may also submit a document without making oral comments at the meeting. Click on the following documents for session details: Invitation Letter and Specialty Crop Committee Charge. Contact Bruce Mertz, NAREEE acting executive director, 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 March 18, 2009. Submit news items to newsletter@csrees.usda.gov by March 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.