NIFA Update — July 21, 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.
- NPL Completes Embassy Fellowship
- New Natural Resources and Environment Program Specialist
- NIFA Offers 2nd National Workshop on System-Based Grant Programs
- NIFA Awards CYFAR Sustainable Community Project Grants to Help At-Risk Communities
- Organic Farming Enhances Biodiversity and Natural Pest Control
- Flowering and Freezing Tolerance Linked in Wheat, Study Shows
- USDA Provides Emergency Assistance to Producers of Honeybees, Livestock, and Farm-Raised Fish for 2009 Losses
- Statement by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on Child Nutrition Reauthorization Passage from House Education and Labor Committee
- USDA Announces Recovery Act Efforts Aimed at Creating Jobs, Supporting Local and Regional Food Systems
- Progress in Implementing Food Safety Working Group Recommendations
NPL Completes Embassy Fellowship
Mary Ann Rozum, national program leader for Natural Resources and the Environment, completed a 1-month embassy fellowship in Croatia, working at the Mediterranean Crops Research Lab in the town of Split. Embassy fellowships are sponsored by the U.S. State Department, which pairs federal employees with international research laboratories. Rozum worked with the staff on grant applications to the European Union FP7 research program, developing staff resumes and websites in English for further international collaboration, and participating in ongoing projects with olive oil, wine grapes, fruit, vegetable and herb production, and agritourism. Contact Mary Ann Rozum for more information.
New Natural Resources and Environment Program Specialist
Karen Grubb joined NIFA as a program specialist in the Natural Resources and Environment Unit. She is working in climate, air, water, soil areas, and other related assignments. Before joining NIFA, Grubb was a research scientist with the University of Maryland. Her previous work experience includes student summer employment through USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Grubb received her B.S. from The Pennsylvania State University in environmental resource management and agriculture and extension education, and her M.S. in environmental science and technology from the University of Maryland. She can be reached at 202–401–4601 and is located in Waterfront Centre, Room 3181.
NIFA Offers 2nd National Workshop on System-Based Grant Programs
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative, and the Organic Transitions Program encourage applicants to use a systems approach to meet challenges faced by producers and consumers. Program directors, in partnership with Washington State University, are offering a 1-day national workshop on September 8, on the preparation and management of competitively awarded, systems-based grant applications. Last year’s workshop is archived at Cornell University.
This year’s program will cover a number of new topics and revisit some key themes. New speakers will offer new perspectives and case studies on stakeholder engagement, systems thinking, sustainability, and tightly coupled research and extension. The program includes presentations on project team building, proposal preparation, proposal writing and rewriting, eXtension Communities of Practice, and multi-institutional projects from a sponsored programs office perspective. The agenda will be available in a few weeks. The program will be hosted live on the Washington State University campus in Pullman, WA; however, participants have the option of viewing a live webcast or an archived version for post-workshop viewing. The registration deadline is August 30. To register for the meeting, visit the workshop website.
NIFA Awards CYFAR Sustainable Community Project Grants to Help At-Risk Communities
Washington, July 15, 2010 – NIFA awarded eight grants through the Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Communities Project to strengthen outreach program aimed at giving at-risk children, youth, and families the skills and knowledge they need to lead healthy and successful lives. "Many American children are at risk for problems, such as infant mortality, poor health, abuse, crime, teen pregnancy and poor performance in school," said Roger Beachy, NIFA director. "CYFAR promotes positive youth and family development by supporting healthy environments and providing opportunities for learning and leadership by youth and adults in their communities." Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release NIFA Awards CYFAR Sustainable Community Project Grants to Help At-Risk Communities.
Organic Farming Enhances Biodiversity and Natural Pest Control
Washington, July 1, 2010 – A Washington State University (WSU) research team and the University of Georgia have found that organic farming increases biodiversity among beneficial, pest-killing predators and pathogens. In potato crops, this led to fewer insect pests and larger potato plants. “It’s always been a mystery how organic farmers get high yields without using synthetic insecticides,” says co-author Bill Snyder, associate professor of entomology at WSU. “Our study suggests that biodiversity conservation may be a key to their success.”
Ecosystems with more total species, and more beneficial species that are relatively evenly distributed, are thought to be healthiest. The use of insecticides harms biodiversity by reducing the number of species and by making some species (often pests) much more common than others. The study, funded by NIFA and published in the July 1 edition of the journal Nature, shows that organic farming practices lead to many equally-common beneficial species, and that this reduces pest problems. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Researchers Show That Organic Farming Enhances Biodiversity and Natural Pest Control.
Flowering and Freezing Tolerance Linked in Wheat, Study Shows
Washington, June 30, 2010 – Research by University of California, Davis, wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky and his colleagues could lead to new strategies for improving freezing tolerance in wheat, which provides more than one-fifth of the calories consumed by people around the world. The new findings, published June 22 in the Online First issue of the journal Plant Physiology, shed light on the connection between flowering and freezing tolerance in wheat. In winter wheat and barley varieties, long exposures to nonfreezing cold temperatures accelerate flowering time in a process known as vernalization. These exposures also prepare the wheat to better tolerate freezing, a process known as cold acclimation. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Flowering and Freezing Tolerance Linked in Wheat, Study Shows.
NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through "Find Grant Opportunities" on the Grants.gov website. 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 Provides Emergency Assistance to Producers of Honeybees, Livestock, and Farm-Raised Fish for 2009 Losses
Washington, July 15, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that over $13 million in disaster assistance will be issued to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who suffered losses in 2009 because of disease, adverse weather, or other conditions. The aid will come from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). "The Obama Administration is committed to helping producers who have suffered devastating losses due to natural disasters and this program will allow eligible producers that suffered losses in 2009 to receive emergency assistance payments that may be critical to their survival," said Vilsack.
Of the $13 million in disaster assistance, more than $7 million will compensate beekeepers for 2009 losses, will be issued. Under ELAP, producers will be compensated for losses that are not covered under other Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Payment programs established by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Provides Emergency Assistance to Producers of Honeybees, Livestock, and Farm-Raised Fish for 2009 Losses.
Statement by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on Child Nutrition Reauthorization Passage from House Education and Labor Committee
USDA Announces Recovery Act Efforts Aimed at Creating Jobs, Supporting Local and Regional Food Systems
Corvallis, OR., July 12, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Recovery Act investments for 10 businesses in 9 states to strengthen rural economies by supporting local and regional food systems. Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack at the annual conference for the National Rural Economic Developers Association."Our farmers are the most productive in the world, supplying much of the nation's food, and in so doing, are creating the jobs that are necessary to strengthen our economy," said Vilsack. "By connecting farmers and ranchers more closely with consumers of food, we are creating new economic opportunities for producers and helping consumers to access healthy, nutritious food."
These announcements come as part of USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative, which seeks to create new economic opportunities, to promote local and regional food systems that help keep wealth in rural communities, and to encourage a national conversation about what we eat and where it comes from to benefit producers of all sizes. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Recovery Act Efforts Aimed at Creating Jobs, Supporting Local and Regional Food Systems.
Progress in Implementing Food Safety Working Group Recommendations
Washington, July 9, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius commended federal food safety agencies for their accomplishments supporting the charge of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group, which advises the President on how to upgrade the U.S. food safety system for the 21st century. The Food Safety Working Group recommended a public health-focused approach to food safety based on three core principles: prioritizing prevention, strengthening inspection and enforcement, and improving response and recovery.
"I'm proud of the significant progress that has been made to protect public health since the Food Safety Working Group announced its key findings last July," said Secretary Vilsack. "HHS and USDA are focusing on public health as we work to improve the safety of our food supply,” said Secretary Sebelius.”Our farm-to-table prevention approach acknowledges the complexity and diversity of all the people and organizations involved in food production." Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Federal Agencies Announce Progress in First Year of Implementing Food Safety Working Group Recommendations.
NRC Releases New Report
The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a new report, Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the Twenty-First Century. The report reviews the state of knowledge on farming practices, technologies, and management systems that have the potential to improve the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of agriculture. It offers a comprehensive view of the science that underpins modern agricultural approaches and can serve as a resource for farmers, researchers, and the public. The report also discusses the factors that influence farmers’ decisions to adopt those practices, technologies, and systems — decisions that will be of interest to industry representatives, science organizations, policymakers, government representatives, and charitable organizations that support agricultural development. Visit the National Academy of Sciences website for more information.
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Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her.
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Roger Beachy, Director
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