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NIFA Update — August 4, 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.


  • New OEP Staff Accountant

  • Study Unlocks Secret Behind Success of Disease-Causing Microbes

  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up

  • Vilsack/Salazar Announce Appointments to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council


  • Mississippi Announces New Interim Director

  • Tennessee Appoints New Assistant Dean

  • Burns Begins New Post as UT Extension Assistant Dean


  • 2011 National Urban Extension Conference



New OEP Staff Accountant

The Office of Extramural Programs welcomes Stephen Hobday, a new staff accountant in the Policy and Oversight Branch. He comes to NIFA after spending 5 years with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an accountant and cost negotiator. He has many years of auditing experience with HHS’s Office of the Inspector General. He also served as regional economist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He received his B.S. in accounting from New Jersey City University and a B.S. in economics from Boston College. Hobday is a Certified Public Accountant. He can be reached at 202-720-6487 and is located in Waterfront Centre Room 3101.

Study Unlocks Secret Behind Success of Disease-Causing Microbes

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2010 – Researchers from Virginia Tech have identified the mechanism several important microbial pathogens use to infect plants and cause devastating diseases. The study, published in the July 23 issue of Cell, also provides insights into how some microbes cause diseases in humans and animals. The identified mechanism is used by fungi and oomycetes (microbes related to algae) to cause crop losses for producers, including wheat rust epidemics in Africa and Asia and the Irish potato famine of the 19th century. The study, funded by NIFA and the National Science Foundation, shows that once a fungus or an oomycete comes into contact with a host, it may initiate an infection by secreting special proteins, called effectors, which have the ability to enter and reprogram the host’s cells. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read Study Unlocks Secret Behind Success of Disease-Causing Microbes.

NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
Funding Opportunity Closing Date Contact

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (AFRI)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Critical Issues: Emerging and New Plant and Animal Pests and Diseases Program

August 16, 2010

Gary B. Sherman

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 Announces Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) began August 2, and will continue through August 27. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP’s competitive general sign-up at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. Jim Miller, Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack during a conference call with reporters.

To help ensure that interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the sign-up period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations, which will play an active role in USDA’s 2010 CRP outreach efforts. Additionally, Secretary Vilsack has recorded two public service announcements, which are available to the press and public on FSA’s website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up.

Vilsack/Salazar Announce Appointments to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the appointments of 18 people to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an advisory group created earlier this year to advise the two federal departments on recreational hunting and shooting sports activities and associated wildlife and habitat conservation.

The council is an official advisory group under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that will help to promote and preserve America's hunting heritage for future generations. It will also provide a forum for sportsmen and women to advise the federal government on policies related to wildlife and habitat conservation endeavors that (a) benefit recreational hunting; (b) benefit wildlife resources; and (c) encourage partnership among the public, the sporting conservation community, the shooting and hunting sports industry, wildlife conservation organizations, the states, Native American tribes, and the federal government. They will serve 2-year terms. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Vilsack/Salazar Announce Appointments to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

Mississippi Announces New Interim Director

Joe Street is the new interim director of the Cooperative Extension Service, Mississippi State University. Street earned a B.S. and M.S. degrees in plant pathology from Mississippi State University in 1970 and 1972, respectively, and his Ph.D. in agronomy (weed science) from Auburn University in 1980. He had served as associate director at Mississippi State University Extension Service since 2008. He can be reached at Mississippi State University, Box 9601, 190 Bost North, Room 201B, Mississippi State, MS 39762; telephone 662-325-3034; fax 662-325-8407.

Tennessee Appoints New Assistant Dean

The University of Tennessee’s (UT) Institute of Agriculture appointed Stephen P. Oliver as assistant dean for research and assistant director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station. Oliver will manage research programs at the 10 statewide AgResearch and Education centers and 7 academic departments. A member of the faculty since 1984, he is well known on campus, throughout the state, nationally, and internationally for his dairy research programs. He has served as director of the Tennessee Quality Milk Laboratory since 2006 and prior to that was co-director of the UT Food Safety Center of Excellence. Oliver is the recipient of the 2009 Chancellor's Award for Research and Creative Achievement and a two-time recipient of the Buford E. Ellington Distinguished Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Teaching, Research, and Service to the Department of Animal Science. Oliver replaces John Wilkerson, who served as interim assistant dean for over 2 years and is returning to his teaching and research program in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science.

Burns Begins New Post as UT Extension Assistant Dean

Robert Burns is named assistant dean for University of Tennessee (UT) Extension. His area of specialty will be in agriculture, natural resources, and resource development. He will oversee seven departments within UT Extension and will work with the Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture and the Soil, Plant, and Pest Center located at the Ellington Agricultural Center. He is a home-grown extension expert who holds three engineering degrees from the university, and worked for UT Extension as an assistant and associate professor from 1995 to 2004. From 2004 until recently, he was a professor in agricultural biosystems engineering at Iowa State University.

2011 National Urban Extension Conference

Save the dates May 2-5, 2011, for the National Urban Extension Conference in Des Moines, IA.  Join folks from across the country to discuss the unique needs of urban communities. Conference highlights include, nationally recognized keynote speakers, urban success stories, and sessions featuring leading extension professionals, urban cultural immersions, and networking. The conference is hosted by Iowa State University Extension. For more details and information on submitting a presentation visit the conference website.

For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. NIFA UPDATE is published biweekly. The next NIFA issue is planned for August 18. Submit news items to mailto:newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by August 11.

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 website.

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 SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.