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NIFA Update —February 25, 2010

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

  • Beachy Delivers Outlook Forum Remarks
  • NIFA NPL on Haiti Assessment Team
  • Balsano Joins F4HN
  • NIFA News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

USDA

  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Presents Obama Administration's Priorities to Improve National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs
  • Obama Administration Details Healthy Food Financing Initiative
  • USDA and Department of Justice Announce Historic Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit
  • USDA Food Availability Data System Tracks a Century of American Eating
  • Secretary Vilsack Announces Soybean Board Appointments
  • USDA Issues Final Rule on Organic Access to Pasture
  • USDA Scientists Sequence Genome of Grass That Can Be a Biofuel Model Crop
  • First Lady Launches Let's Move: America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids 
  • USDA Announces New Framework for Animal Disease Traceability
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Production of Renewable Energy, Job Creation


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Beachy Delivers Outlook Forum Remarks

NIFA Director Roger Beachy spoke at the USDA Outlook Forum Dinner on February 18. The title of his speech was Science, Sustainability, and Society. “It is important that we frame the discussion about sustainability around what science teaches us, while recognizing the importance of society in how we provide food and sustain the environment while doing our work in agriculture and agriforestry.  …(T)oday’s program marks a far-reaching consensus that sustainability should be a hallmark of USDA’s work in bringing quality food, fiber, and energy to homes in America and, increasingly, across the globe. But underneath this consensus lies some deep concerns about how we will achieve sustainability, about who will shoulder the brunt of the changes in the practices that are needed to support sustainable agro-ecosystems, and about the role that science and technology will play in fostering sustainability.” A transcript of Beachy’s remarks is on the NIFA Web site.

NIFA NPL on Haiti Assessment Team

The United Nations and the World Bank recently launched a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) team, which will look at the longer–term agriculture strategy and support needed for Haiti’s upcoming planting season. Kitty F. Cardwell, NIFA national program leader for plant pathology, Plant and Animal Systems Unit, is representing NIFA on the PDNA team.

Balsano Joins F4HN

Aida Balsano recently joined Families, 4–H, and Nutrition Unit as the national program leader for child and adolescent development. Prior to joining NIFA, Balsano worked for the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation in Washington, DC, as a chief operating officer. She had previous served the foundation as a director of policy analysis and evaluation and as a vice president of evaluation and policy. While there, she provided leadership in structuring program design, program implementation, and evaluation policies for after-school program models for children and youth.
 
She was a doctoral research assistant and a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. In both her doctoral work and her post-doctoral position, she was a member of the research team conducting the 4–H Longitudinal Study of Positive Youth Development. She completed her doctoral studies at Tufts University as the first Jacobs Foundation Doctoral Fellow, an appointment designed to support the doctoral training of students from developing nations or Eastern European countries. Balsano has authored/co-authored more than two dozen scholarly publications and papers. She can be reached at 202–720–4436 or abalsano@nifa.usda.gov. She is located in Room 4401 Waterfront Centre.

NIFA News

NIFA Announces Grants to Help Train and Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers


Washington, February 17, 2010 – NIFA announced the availability of more than $18 million in grants to help train, educate, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)."Beginning farmers and ranchers are critical to creating rural prosperity in the United States, but they face unique challenges and require education and assistance to ensure their profitability and sustainability,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA Director. “These grants will provide training that America’s next generation of farmers and ranchers need to succeed.”

BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance, and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers—specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or less. NIFA will make grants available to organizations to design programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Project results are expected to be disseminated widely to all farmers. Proposals are due April 6, and applications are available on the NIFA Web site. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read NIFA Announces Grants to Help Train and Educate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers.

USDA Addresses Veterinary Shortages with Education Loan Repayment Program

Washington, February 12, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA had taken the first step toward implementing a plan to address veterinary shortages throughout rural America by repaying the student loans of qualified veterinarians in return for their services in areas suffering from a lack of veterinarians.

NIFA administers the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), which was established in the National Veterinary Medical Services Act of 2003. NIFA issued an interim rule for the program on July 9, 2009. Implementation of the program began on January 22, 2010, when NIFA released a Federal Register notice asking for comments and nominations for shortage situations from the chief animal health official from each state and insular area and appropriate federal animal health officials. Guidance on what constitutes a shortage situation and nomination forms can be found on the NIFA Web site. Nomination forms are due March 8, and can be returned via email to vmlrp@nifa.usda.gov. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read USDA Addresses Veterinary Shortages with Education Loan Repayment Program.

NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date

Contact

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program

February 26, 2010

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives Program

March 3, 2010

Monte Johnson

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

March 5, 2010

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Tribal Colleges Extension Services Program

March 10, 2010

Joan Gill

Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program

March 17, 2010

Shing F Kwok

Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grants Program

March 22, 2010

Tim Grosser

Integrated Pest Management: Crops at Risk Program

March 22, 2010

H.J. Rick Meyer

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program: Integrated Pest Management: Methyl Bromide Transitions Program

March 22, 2010

William Hoffman

Integrated Pest Management: Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program

March 22, 2010

Robert Nowierski

1890 Facilities Grants Program

April 5, 2010

P.S. Benepal

Resident Instruction Grants Program for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas and Distance Education Grants for Insular Areas

April 5, 2010

Gregory Smith

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

April 6, 2010

Siva Sureshwaran

 New Era Rural Technology Competitive Grants Program (RTP)

April 14, 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.


Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Presents Obama Administration's Priorities to Improve National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

Washington, February 23, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at a National Press Club luncheon to highlight the Obama Administration's priorities for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and to advocate for the rapid passage of a strong reauthorization bill to improve the health and nutrition of our nation's children. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Presents Obama Administration's Priorities to Improve National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

Obama Administration Details Healthy Food Financing Initiative

Philadelphia - The Obama Administration released details of an over-$400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which will bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities across America. The initiative was announced in Philadelphia by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The two cabinet members appeared with First Lady Michelle Obama, who recently launched the Let's Move! campaign to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. The initiative is a partnership between the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative will promote a range of interventions that expand access to nutritious foods. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Obama Administration Details Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

USDA and Department of Justice Announce Historic Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit

Washington, February 18, 2010 - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the successful resolution of the longstanding litigation known as Pigford II. The settlement agreement reached, which is contingent on appropriation by Congress, will provide a total of $1.25 billion to African-American farmers who alleged that they suffered racial discrimination in USDA farm loan programs. The settlement sets up a non-judicial claims process through which individual farmers may demonstrate their entitlement to cash damages awards and debt relief. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA and Department of Justice Announce Historic Settlement in Lawsuit by Black Farmers Claiming Discrimination by USDA.

USDA Food Availability Data System Tracks a Century of American Eating

Washington, February 18, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack unveiled the latest data on U.S. food availability per capita in a USDA database that researchers, policymakers, media, and marketers use to gauge consumption of individual foods and food groups. For many of the several hundred food commodities covered, this release marks 100 years of data—from 1909 to 2008. Release of the hundredth year of data is accompanied by enhanced features in the data product to improve usability, as well as an added multimedia presentation that highlights the uses and implications of the data. The USDA Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System is accessible at www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodConsumption/. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release USDA Food Availability Data System Tracks a Century of American Eating.

Secretary Vilsack Announces Soybean Board Appointments

Washington, February 12, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of 17 members and 1 alternate member to the United Soybean Board. All appointees will serve 3-year terms beginning immediately. "These appointees represent a cross section of the soybean industry and I am confident that soybean producers will be well served by them," said Vilsack. Soybean production is vital to the United States agriculture industry. In 2008, according to USDA statistics, producers planted an estimated 75.7 million acres of soybeans. Top producing states included Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, and Nebraska. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release Secretary Vilsack Announces Soybean Board Appointments.

USDA Issues Final Rule On Organic Access to Pasture

Washington, February 12, 2010 - USDA announced details of the final regulation regarding access to pasture for organic livestock operations. This rule amends the National Organic Program regulations to clarify the use of pasture in raising organic ruminants. The final rule provides certainty to consumers that organic livestock production is a pasture-based system in which animals are actively grazing pasture during the grazing season. The majority of organic dairy and ruminant livestock producers are already grazing animals and maintaining pastures that meet the requirements of this rule. These standards contain clear requirements that will provide greater assurance that all producers are being held to the same standards. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release USDA Issues Final Rule on Organic Access to Pasture.

USDA Scientists Sequence Genome of Grass That Can Be a Biofuel Model Crop

Washington, February 10, 2010 - USDA scientists and their colleagues at the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute announced that they have completed sequencing the genome of a kind of wild grass that will enable researchers to shed light on the genetics behind hardier varieties of wheat and improved varieties of biofuel crops. The research is published in the journal Nature.

The grass, Brachypodium distachyon, can be used by plant scientists the way other researchers use lab mice to study human disease—as a model organism that is similar to but easier to grow and study than important agricultural crops, including wheat and barley. The research also supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy; the brachypodium genome is similar to that of the potential bioenergy crop switchgrass. But the smaller genome of brachypodium makes it easier to find genes linked to specific traits, such as stem size and disease resistance. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Scientists Sequence Genome of Grass That Can Be a Biofuel Model Crop.

First Lady Launches Let's Move: America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids
 
The White House, Washington, February 9, 2010 - First Lady Michelle Obama announced an ambitious national goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight and unveiled a nationwide campaign - Let's Move - to help achieve it. The Let's Move campaign will combat the epidemic of childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies, and mobilizes public and private sector resources. Let's Move will engage every sector impacting the health of children to achieve the national goal, and will provide schools, families, and communities simple tools to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy.
To support Let's Move and facilitate and coordinate partnerships with states, communities, and the non-profit and for-profit private sectors, the nation's leading children's health foundations have come together to create a new independent foundation—the Partnership for a Healthier America—which will accelerate existing efforts addressing childhood obesity and facilitate new commitments towards the national goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let's Move: America's move to raise a healthier generation of kids or visit the Web site at www.LetsMove.gov.

USDA Announces New Framework for Animal Disease Traceability

Washington, February 5, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities. The framework, announced at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture mid-year meeting, provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States. USDA's efforts will only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce; be administered by the states and tribal nations to provide more flexibility; encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces New Framework for Animal Disease Traceability.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Production of Renewable Energy, Job Creation


Washington, February 3, 2010 – As President Obama announced that USDA has issued a proposed rule for the new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) that intends to spur the expansion of dedicated non-food crops for renewable energy and biofuel production. A public comment period will continue for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

Authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, BCAP is designed to ensure that a sufficiently large base of new, non-food, non-feed biomass crops is established in anticipation of future demand for renewable energy consumption. BCAP is intended to reduce the financial risk for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners by providing incentive payments to those who invest in the production, harvest, storage, and transportation of new first-generation energy crops that displace hydrocarbon-based materials now used for heat, power, and vehicle fuel. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Production of Renewable Energy, Job Creation.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for March 10, 2010. Submit news items to mailto:newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by March 3, 2010.

Editor:  Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to Judy Rude. 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.