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NIFA Update — November 30, 2009

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

NIFA

  • From the Director
  • Schmiesing Leaves F4-HN
  • NIFA News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

USDA

  • USDA National Scholars Program Applications Open for 2010 Academic School Year
  • Agriculture Secretary Discusses Importance of Addressing Child Hunger, Health, and Nutrition
  • USDA Report Reveals Highest Rate of Food Insecurity Since Report was Initiated in 1995
  • Justice Department and USDA Set Dates for Workshops to Explore Competition and Regulatory Issues in the Agriculture Industry
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Food Purchases for Domestic Nutrition Programs, Assists Pork, Cherry, Plum, and Apple Farmers
  • Vilsack Statement on the Nomination of Rajiv Shah as USAID Administrator

Partners

  • Building Public Issues Education Capacity to Address Health and Wellness: Recommendations from a Survey of Extension Professionals

Opportunities

  • Workshop on Preparation/Management of Grant Applications

Awards and Recognition

  • Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture

Mailbox
 

From the Director

Recently at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting, I had the opportunity to participate and talk about NIFA, our vision for USDA science, and our expectations for what USDA science will accomplish for the American people. The five areas that represent this vision are as follows:

  • USDA science will support the goal to keep American agriculture competitive while ending world hunger.
  • USDA science and education will support our ability to improve nutrition and end child obesity.
  • USDA science will support our efforts to radically improve food safety for all Americans.
  • USDA science will secure America’s energy future.
  • USDA science will help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

 

There are many ways that good science can be applied to create an agriculture that is part of the solution, rather than creating a problem and there are many ways where we can be the most important part of the solution. The public is energized as it has not been in decades about the quality of the food they eat, where it comes from, how it is produced, and its impact on the environment. Congress is poised to support a realignment of our funding to match our priorities and this administration is ready, willing, and committed to support science in the service of public good. We are listening to our partners’ concerns and issues, and we need to take the ball and run with it; we need to run in the same direction and carry the same message to our stakeholders and our legislators. We may not get another chance anytime soon!

Visit the NIFA Web site to read my remarks.

Roger Beachy, Director

Schmiesing Leaves F4-HN

Ryan Schmiesing, NIFA national program leader for 4-H Mission Mandates in the Families, 4-H, and Nutrition Unit, left NIFA on November 27 to become director of programs for the Ohio Community Service Council, in Columbus, OH. The council provides information and administers the national and community service programs, updates on legislation of interest to the field of volunteerism, education, best practices on screening volunteers, and homeland security.

NIFA News

USDA Awards $1 Million to North Carolina State University to Train Students in Human Health and Nutrition

Kannapolis, NC, Nov. 19, 2009 – USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced that it has awarded $1 million to North Carolina State University to launch a scholarship program that will train graduate students in the fields of human health, nutrition, and food science. NIFA Director Roger Beachy made the announcement at the North Carolina Research Center (NCRC) in Kannapolis, NC. “To address critical issues in human health and nutrition—and especially our priority areas of global hunger and child obesity—we need to train the best and brightest in these fields,” Beachy said. “NIFA’s investment will ensure we are prepared to find solutions to health and nutrition problems in the future.” 
   
Students who participate in the Kannapolis Scholars program will be immersed in a rich transdisciplinary training environment at the NCRC that spans subject matter from the field to the fork. This training will enable students to develop integrated approaches to solving complex problems within the broad domain of functional foods, bioactive food components, and human health. Students will have access to advanced instrumentation such as high-throughput sequencing; mass spectrometry; laser imaging; and world-class, high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance. Program participants will also learn techniques spanning molecular-cellular to plant and animal models to human clinical studies. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Awards $1 Million to North Carolina State University to Train Students in Human Health and Nutrition.

USDA Awards More Than $5 Million in Grants to Support Local Foods Initiatives

Washington, Nov. 18 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that more than $5 million will be awarded to 16 organizations to increase access to healthy, affordable local foods. "Building local sustainable food systems is a key step in fighting hunger and obesity, a priority for USDA and for the Obama Administration," Vilsack said. "These grants are an important part of USDA’s new ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative and put funds in low-income communities and areas of need that struggle with access to healthy, nutritious food. They are critical if we are to achieve the President’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015 and improving the nutrition and health for all Americans.”

Launched in September 2009, the ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative emphasizes the need for a fundamental and critical reconnection between producers and consumers. ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ includes such major agricultural topics as supporting local farmers and community food groups; strengthening rural communities; enhancing direct marketing and farmers’ promotion programs; promoting healthy eating; protecting natural resources; and helping schools connect with locally grown foods. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Awards More Than $5 Million in Grants to Support Local Foods Initiatives.

NIFA-Supported Multistate Soybean Project Receives Recognition from APLU

Washington, Nov. 17, 2009. - The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) awarded the Experiment Station Section Award for Excellence in Multistate Research to the multistate project Biology, Impact, and Management of Soybean Insect Pests in Soybean Production Systems during its annual meeting in Washington, DC. The project’s work has formed the foundation for extension efforts on national and regional soybean insect problems for more than 30 years. The current project, supported by NIFA, includes researchers and extension personnel from 18 land-grant universities throughout the south and north-central regions.

The project, also called S-1039, has recently focused on the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), which resulted in a new pest management tool for soybean growers in North America. Survey results of growers within the north-central region reveal widespread adoption of the project’s recommendations. When considering the recommendations for using insecticides against the soybean aphid, the initial estimates indicate a projected savings to growers of $1.3 billion in the next 15 years. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release NIFA-Supported Multistate Soybean Project Receives Recognition from APLU.

DOE/USDA Select Projects for More Than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development Grants

Washington, Nov. 12, 2009 - The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy announced projects selected for more than $24 million in grants to research and develop technologies to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products. Of the $24.4 million announced, DOE plans to invest up to $4.9 million with USDA contributing up to $19.5 million. Advanced biofuels produced through this funding are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent. Projects announced must contribute a minimum of 20 percent of matching funds for research and development projects and 50 percent of matching funds for demonstration projects. Funding is provided through NIFA and DOE's Biomass Program. Selected projects are aimed at increasing the availability of alternative fuels and biobased products that are produced from a diverse group of renewable sources of biomass. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release DOE and USDA Select Projects for More Than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development Grants.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces USDA and Defense Department will Partner to Support Military Children and Families

Washington, Nov. 10, 2009 – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will partner with the Department of Defense to form the Extension-Military Partnership, which will bring the extension expertise of land-grant universities to military family support programs. USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Rajiv Shah made the announcement at the National Leadership Summit on Military Families. “Military families face many challenges as a result of their commitment to our country, and USDA recognizes this significant sacrifice and believes very strongly that Cooperative Extension can play a critical role in supporting these families,” Shah said. “This new partnership will enhance our 20-year relationship with the Defense Department and extend the many resources of the Cooperative Extension Service to serve the entire military community.”

The partnership will focus on three overall areas: community capacity building in support of military families; workforce development; and strengthening family, child care, and youth development programs. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces USDA and Defense Department will Partner to Support Military Children and Families.

NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


Funding Opportunity

Closing Date

Contact

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program - Western Region

December 17, 2009

Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program – Southern Region

December 17, 2009

Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management Competitive Grants Program – Northeastern Region

December 17, 2009

Michael Fitzner

Regional Integrated Pest Management Program - North Central Region

December 17, 2009

Michael Fitzner

Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities: State and Regional AgrAbility Projects

December 18, 2009

Bradley Rein

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

January 14, 2010

Thomas (Tom) Bewick

Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordination and Support Program

January 14, 2010

Martin A. Draper

Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program

January 15, 2010

Gregory Smith

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program: National Integrated Food Safety Initiative

January 19, 2010

Jan Singleton

Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities

January 20, 2010

Siva Sureshwaran

Special Research Grants Program: Potato Breeding Research

January 20, 2010

Ann Marie Thro

Youth Farm Safety and Education Certification Program

January 21, 2010

Bradley Rein

International Science and Education Competitive Grants Program

January 28, 2010

Patricia Fulton

Increasing Scientific Data on the Fate, Transport and Behavior of Engineered Nanomaterials in Selected Environmental and Biological Matrices

February 2, 2010

Hongda Chen

Higher Education Challenge Grants

February 5, 2010

Gregory Smith

1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants (CBG) Program

February 8, 2010

Ali I. Mohamed

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

February 9, 2010

Mary Monnig Peet

Higher Education Program: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

February 16, 2010

Irma Lawrence

New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grants Program (RTP)

April 10, 2010

Gregory Smith


NIFA 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 email notification service based on these parameters.

USDA National Scholars Program Applications Open for 2010 Academic School Year

Washington, Nov. 23, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA/1890 National Scholars Program applications for the 2010 academic school year now are being accepted. Aspiring high school seniors and rising college sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply before the February 1, 2010, deadline. "This program furthers the Obama Administration's goal of promoting and encouraging America's young men and women to consider careers in agriculture and public service," said Vilsack. "Under this terrific partnership college-bound students benefit from an outstanding educational opportunity and USDA benefits from the knowledge, talent, diversity, and skills that they will one day bring to our organization." The scholarship program is a partnership initiative between USDA and the 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Tuskegee University. It is designed to expand diversity in USDA through the recruitment of talented students into public service in agriculture and related fields, including food sciences, natural resource sciences, and agricultural sciences. Since the National Scholars Program inception in 1992, USDA has funded scholarships for over 500 students. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA National Scholars Program Applications Open for 2010 Academic School Year.

Agriculture Secretary Discusses Importance of Addressing Child Hunger, Health, and Nutrition
   

Washington, Nov. 17 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Environment on the opportunities to combat child hunger and improve the health and nutrition of children across the country during the upcoming reauthorization of USDA's Child Nutrition Programs. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read excerpts from Vilsack’s prepared testimony, Agriculture Secretary Discusses Importance of Addressing Child Hunger, Health, and Nutrition.

USDA Report Reveals Highest Rate of Food Insecurity Since Report was Initiated in 1995

Washington, Nov. 16, 2009 - The Economic Research Service's (ERS) annual report on Household Food Security in the United States revealed that, in 2008, 17 million households, or 14.6 percent, were food insecure and families had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year. This is an increase from 13 million households, or 11.1 percent, in 2007. The 2008 figures represent the highest level observed since nationally representative food security surveys were initiated in 1995. The full study is available on the ERS Web site. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Report Reveals Highest Rate of Food Insecurity Since Report was Initiated in 1995.

Justice Department and USDA Set Dates for Workshops to Explore Competition and Regulatory Issues in the Agriculture Industry

Washington, Nov. 13, 2009 - The Department of Justice and the USDA announced the dates and locations of joint public workshops that will explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshops, which were first announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on August 5, are the first joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss this topic. The all-day workshops, which will begin in March 2010, will be held in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington, DC. The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue and foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of these issues, as well as to listen to and learn from parties with experience in the agriculture sector. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release and learn more about the workshops - Justice Department and USDA Set Dates for Workshops to Explore Competition and Regulatory Issues in the Agriculture Industry.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Food Purchases for Domestic Nutrition Programs, Assists Pork, Cherry, Plum, and Apple Farmers  

Kansas City, MO, Nov. 11, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA's intention to purchase $82.6 million worth of pork, cherry, plum, and apple products for federal food nutrition assistance programs. Vilsack made this announcement at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual convention. "These purchases will assist pork, cherry, plum, and apple producers who are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions," said Vilsack. "These actions will help stabilize prices and markets, stimulate the economy, and provide high quality food to Americans in need of USDA's nutrition assistance programs."

USDA intends to purchase $50 million of pork, $12.2 million of tart cherries, $1.8 million of dried plums, and $18.6 million of apples. The department will seek the lowest overall costs by surveying potential suppliers and publicly inviting bids to assure contracts are awarded to responsible bidders. The pork purchase will help farmers greatly reduce their sow herd in a market where production costs continue to exceed market value. The tart cherry, dried plum, and apple purchases will help alleviate the stress caused by higher inventories and low prices that farmers are receiving for their commodities. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Food Purchases for Domestic Nutrition Programs, Assists Pork, Cherry, Plum, and Apple Farmers.  

Vilsack Statement on the Nomination of Rajiv Shah as USAID Administrator

Washington, Nov. 10, 2009

"The country will be well served by the President's decision to nominate Raj Shah to be Administrator of USAID. He has already made a positive impact at USDA. In the short time Raj has been here, he has initiated and overseen a critical transformation in our approach to science, which will continue under the leadership of the exceptional team he assembled. I am certain he will bring his unique brand of enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to USAID. I know there will be close collaboration between USAID and USDA as we confront the enormous challenge of malnourishment worldwide."

Building Public Issues Education Capacity to Address Health and Wellness: Recommendations from a Survey of Extension Professionals

A national Web-based survey administered through the University of Maryland assessed Cooperative Extension's involvement in public policy education specific to health and wellness. Respondents included Family Consumer Sciences administrators, faculty, and staff. The majority of respondents agreed that public policy education was within the scope of their responsibilities, critical to their programs, and helpful in raising citizens' interest and commitment to healthier communities. However, public policy education efforts would benefit from a more integrated approach across the national extension system in terms of policy focus and extension professionals' roles and level of involvement. This project was a collaboration between NIFA, USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, and several land-grant institutions. The full report can be found in the Journal of Extension’s October 2009 issue.

Workshop on Preparation/Management of Grant Applications

NIFA’s Sustainable Agriculture and Education program, Integrated Organic Program, and Specialty Crop Research Initiative require applicants to use a systems approach to meet challenges faced by producers and consumers. The directors of these programs, in partnership with Cornell University, are offering a 1-day national workshop on the preparation and management of competitively awarded, systems-based grant applications. Philosophers in the 17th century debated whether scientific inquiry should be based on a reductionist approach, in which complex processes and systems are viewed as the sum of their parts, or on a systems approach, in which all the components of processes and systems are studied in relation to each other. For over 300 years, the reductionist approach dominated with remarkable results. With our current ability to manage large and complex data sets, there is renewed interest in adapting a systems science approach to modern challenges in agricultural and food science to uncover solutions at the speed of modern life. Workshop information and registration can be found on Cornell University Web site. The deadline to register is December 3.

Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture

This year’s Seaman A. Knapp lecturer was Catherine Ann Bertini, who delivered The Triple E Answer to Ending Hunger:  Effective Extension & Education before the 122nd APLU Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Bertini is professor of practice, public administration, at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Bertini served as United Nations (UN) Under Secretary-General for Management (2003-05) and as executive director of the UN World Food Program. Prior to her UN work, Bertini was USDA Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services. In 2003, she was awarded the prestigious World Food Prize, which honors individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food throughout the world.

NIFA sponsors the Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture to commemorate the life and work of Seaman A. Knapp, the father of the cooperative extension concept. Knapp’s success as a national leader of the farm and home demonstration system helped bring about the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which resulted in establishment of a Cooperative Extension Service in every state.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for December 9, 2009. Submit news items to newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by December 2.

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

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to jrude@nifa.usda.gov. In the body of the message, type: subscribe nifa-update OR unsubscribe nifa-update.  Back issues of NIFA UPDATE are available on the NIFA Web site.

Roger Beachy, Director

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.