NIFA Update — August 3, 2011
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.
- Holland Appointed Assistant Director for the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition
- Kugler Leaves for Forest Service
- Clary Joins Division of Nutrition
- New NIFA Budget Officer
- Hewitt New PARS Director
- NIFA Grant Supports NCSU-led Research to Reduce Number of Food-Borne Illnesses
- NIFA in the News
- NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
- USDA Makes Funds Available to Meet Urgent Credit Needs of Producers
- Keepseagle Settlement Claims Filing Period Opens for Native American Farmers and Ranchers
- Agriculture Secretary Joins the National Council of La Raza to Highlight Improvements to the Nutritional Health of Hispanics in Communities Across the Country
- Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule Designating Additional 14 Biobased Categories for Preferred Federal Purchasing
- USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Improve the Quality of Rural Housing
- USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Better Label Raw Meat and Poultry Containing Added Solutions
- Griffin Appointed CES Acting Administrator
- URI Names CES Director
- WRDC Releases Climate Change Adaptations
- SET Expands To More Than 40 Regions Nationwide
- Cornell University Launches Elder Wisdom Website
Awards and Recognition
- Meyer Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
- NIFA’s WRDC Wins Awards
Holland Appointed Assistant Director for the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition
Robert E. Holland is NIFA’s new Assistant Director for the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. From January 2005 until February 2011, Holland served as the chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and the director of the Large Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Prior to this, he served as the chair of the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University. He has also held positions at Michigan State University and Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Before assuming university leadership roles, he was extensively engaged in food safety, environmental quality, and dairy production medicine research.
Holland has authored/co-authored more than 110 publications, including 33 scientific and refereed journal publications. He received a D.V.M. from Tuskegee University, an M.S. in large animal clinical sciences from Michigan State University, and a B.S. from Virginia State University. Holland completed his residency and a postdoctoral educational fellowship at Michigan State University. He is located in room 2460 of the Waterfront Centre and can be reached at 202-720-5004.
Kugler Leaves for Forest Service
Dan Kugler, Assistant Director of the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community, recently completed a 1-year tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and livestock. He has accepted a new position with the Forest Service, effective August 1. NIFA will conduct a national search to fill his position.
In the interim, Muquarrab Qureshi, division director for Animal Systems will serve as acting assistant director through November 5. He will relocate to room 4343 in the Waterfront Centre and can be reached at 202-720-5305. Beginning November 6, Caroline Crocoll, division director for Family and Consumer Sciences will serve as acting assistant director.
Clary Joins Division of Nutrition
Jane Clary has joined NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition, Division of Nutrition, as a national program leader for nutrition/extension. Clary was an extension professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University (MSU) and the MSU-extension health specialist. While at MSU, she was the principal investigator and director of Mississippi In Motion, a 12-week healthy lifestyle program reaching all areas of the state and collaborating with extension agents and groups including three universities: Mississippi State University, Delta State University, and the Mississippi University for Women. She also won a 2010 State Pride Award, established to honor faculty members who contribute to the mission of teaching, research, and service of MSU and have excelled in their performance. In addition, she was chair of the leadership team for the eXtension virtual education site, Families, Food, and Fitness Community of Practice, launched in 2009 and has won numerous other awards as a state specialist, including the 2007 MSU Extension Service Grantsmanship award and the 2007 Gamma Sigma Delta “Excellence in Extension” award.
Clary earned her degrees from Purdue University, with an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s in clinical and general psychology, and a master’s in health promotion and health education with an emphasis on eating disorders, and her Ph.D. in adult education, curriculum, and instruction. She is a registered nurse and is a master certified health education specialist. Her dissertation focused on the Indiana Family Nutrition Program and was nominated for outstanding dissertation in 2000 in the school of education. Clary is located in the Waterfront Centre in room 2322 and can be reached at 202-720-3891.
New NIFA Budget Officer
Paula Geiger was selected as NIFA’s budget officer, effective August 14. She worked with USDA’s Office of Budget and Program Analysis for more than 20 years. Geiger played a key role in establishing department-wide budget processes and policies. In her latest role, she was the staff chief for Budget Policies and Systems as well as the Research, Education, and Economics mission area. In addition to supervising a diverse staff, she has represented the Department on various government-wide task forces and working groups.
Geiger is a graduate of the USDA Women’s Executive Leadership Development program. She holds a B.S. degree from Virginia Tech in management science/decision support systems.
Hewitt New PARS Director
Bart Hewitt was selected as the new director of the Planning, Accountability, and Reporting Staff (PARS) effective August 1. Hewitt has worked with NIFA for over 20 years as a lead program analyst. Over the years he has played a key leadership role in strategic planning and accountability for grant reporting, including the Plan of Work and Annual Report, Multistate Research Fund, as well as CRIS and the REEport. In addition to acting in this role since December 2010, he has represented NIFA on various government-wide task forces and working groups. Hewitt holds M.S. degrees from University of Maryland in agricultural and extension education. He is located in the Waterfront Centre in room 1315 and can be reached at 202-720-0747.
NIFA Grant Supports NCSU-led Research to Reduce Number of Food-Borne Illnesses
MILWAUKEE, August 3 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced research funding to North Carolina State University (NCSU) to study human noroviruses in an effort to design effective control measures across the food supply chain and reduce the number of food-borne illnesses caused by viruses. Vilsack announced the $25 million grant to NCSU while speaking before the annual conference of the International Association for Food Protection in Milwaukee. “Enhancing our understanding of human noroviruses is the first step toward reducing the number of food-borne illnesses they cause,” said Vilsack. Human noroviruses cause more than 21 million illnesses each year, and more than half of all food-borne disease outbreaks are due to noroviruses.
With the $25 million grant from NIFA, NCSU food science professor Lee-Ann Jaykus will lead a team of researchers to establish the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative to increase understanding of the viruses; educate producers, processors and food handlers on safe handling and preparation of food; and develop control and management strategies to reduce food contamination in pre- and post-harvest environments. In addition to NCSU, the team will be led by scientists at Clemson University, Baylor College of Medicine, Emory University and the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In total, the team will include more than 30 collaborators from across academia, industry, and government.
The coordinated agricultural project (CAP) grant was awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and administered through NIFA. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release NIFA Grant Supports NCSU-led Research to Reduce Number of Food-Borne Illnesses.
NIFA in the News
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 Makes Funds Available to Meet Urgent Credit Needs of Producers
WASHINGTON, July 28 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that a high demand for guaranteed farm ownership and direct farm operating funds has prompted USDA to transfer appropriated funds between programs, as authorized by law, to meet the urgent credit needs of producers, including beginning and minority farmers and ranchers. "With these funds, we can help thousands of producers establish and maintain their family farming operations and obtain long-term credit assistance through a commercial lender,” said Vilsack.
The transfer will make an additional $100 million in loan funds available for the direct operating loan program, providing 1,600 small, beginning and minority farmers with resources to establish and maintain their family farming operations. In addition, $400 million in loan funds will be made available for the guaranteed farm ownership loan program giving an additional 1,000 family farmers access to commercial lending backed by USDA. Both programs had run out of funds resulting in a backlog of approved but unfunded loan applications. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Makes Funds Available to Meet Urgent Credit Needs of Producers.
Keepseagle Settlement Claims Filing Period Opens for Native American Farmers and Ranchers
WASHINGTON, July 26 - Janie Hipp, Senior Adviser to Secretary Vilsack for Tribal Relations, reminded Native American farmers and ranchers that the period to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement has opened. The filing period opened June 29 and continues until December 27, 2011. Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a lawsuit alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. The lawsuit was settled late last year and the settlement has been approved by the court.
Keepseagle class counsel is holding a number of meetings in the coming months throughout Indian Country and they will provide assistance to help Track A claimants fill out a claims package at those meetings. The dates and times of the meetings are posted on the Keepseagle claims website. Claimant services representatives can also be reached by calling 888-233-5506. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) and the claims package will be mailed to claimants. All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to attend a meeting and contact the website or claims telephone number.
This announcement does not relate to claims for African-American, women or Hispanic farmers. Those claims will be subject to different processes, and information will be forthcoming. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Keepseagle Settlement Claims Filing Period Opens for Native American Farmers and Ranchers.
Agriculture Secretary Joins the National Council of La Raza to Highlight Improvements to the Nutritional Health of Hispanics in Communities Across the Country
WASHINGTON, July 24 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined local, state, and national partners at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference to discuss efforts to combat hunger and improve the nutritional health of Hispanics, especially children. In his remarks, Secretary Vilsack outlined a comprehensive approach to combating hunger and obesity in the Latino community. Obesity remains the fastest growing public health issue in the United States. Roughly one-third of American children are overweight or obese, putting that same proportion of children at risk for diabetes, with the rate in Latino communities reaching nearly one-half.
USDA remains committed to addressing the dual challenges of childhood hunger and obesity – both fueled by a lack of proper nutrition. USDA provides nutrition assistance to 1 in 4 Americans, but there are still many people who are eligible for assistance programs and are not enrolled. SNAP, the nation's largest nutrition assistance program, provides nutrition education and helps put healthy food on the table for more than 44 million people each month, half of whom are children. However, only 56 percent of eligible Hispanics access these critical benefits. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Joins the National Council of La Raza to Highlight Improvements to the Nutritional Health of Hispanics in Communities Across the Country.
Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule Designating Additional 14 Biobased Categories for Preferred Federal Purchasing
WASHINGTON, July 25 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation of 14 additional biobased product categories that are eligible for federal procurement preference. The USDA’s BioPreferred program's Round 7 finalization adds 2,500 biobased products for a total of more than 8,900 products now offered for preferred purchasing consideration by federal government agencies and contractors.
The final rule, published in the Federal Register on July 22 is part of a series of rules to designate biobased items. The new product categories designated under Round 7 include: animal repellent; bath products; bioremediation materials; compost activators and accelerators; concrete and asphalt cleaners; cuts, burns and abrasions ointments; dishwashing products; erosion control materials; floor cleaners and protectors; hair care products such as conditioners and shampoos; interior paints and coatings such as latex and waterborne alkyd and oil-based and solvent-born alkyd; oven and grill cleaners; slide way lubricants; and thermal shipping containers - durable and thermal shipping containers as well as non-durable. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule Designating Additional 14 Biobased Categories for Preferred Federal Purchasing.
USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Improve the Quality of Rural Housing
WASHINGTON, July 22 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that applications are being accepted for grants to eligible applicants to help low-income rural residents repair their homes. Housing Preservation Grants are provided to intermediaries such as town or county governments, public agencies, federally recognized Indian Tribes, and nonprofit and faith-based organizations. The grants are then distributed to qualified homeowners or owners of multi-family rental properties or cooperative dwellings who rent to low- and very-low-income residents. Funding is not provided directly to homeowners by USDA under this program.
The grants can be used to weatherize and repair existing structures, install or improve plumbing, or provide access to people with disabilities. Applications are due on August 22. USDA’s Rural Development agency administers the grants and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. For more information about application details, please view the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) published in the July 7 Federal Register. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Improve the Quality of Rural Housing.
USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Better Label Raw Meat and Poultry Containing Added Solutions
WASHINGTON, July 21 - USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a new rule to establish common, easy-to-understand names for raw meat and poultry products that include injections, marinades, or have otherwise incorporated added solutions which may not be visible to the consumer. FSIS has determined that some labels do not clearly identify if a solution has been added to a raw product to enhance flavor or texture. As a result, consumers may be purchasing raw meat and poultry products with higher sodium content than they realize. The agency invites comments on the proposed rule, which is intended to clarify these products' labels so consumers can easily distinguish them from raw meat and poultry that do not contain added solutions. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Better Label Raw Meat and Poultry Containing Added Solutions.
Griffin Appointed CES Acting Administrator
Richard Griffin was appointed acting administrator, Cooperative Extension Service, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX. Griffin earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in pedology/soil science and his B.S. and M.S. degrees in soil science from North Carolina State University. He serves as acting dean, College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, and acting director of Cooperative Agricultural Research Center. Contact information: College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, Prairie View A&M University, P.O. Box 519; MS 2008, Prairie View, TX 77446; telephone: 936-261-5039; fax: 936-261-9975.
URI Names CES Director
John D. Kirby is now the director, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, effecive August 16. Kirby earned his B.A. and M.S. degrees in biology from the University of Nebraska and Ph.D. in poultry science from Oregon State University. He held a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University, Center for Reproductive Science. He served as the director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean for research prior to his appointment at the University of Rhode Island. Contact information: College of the Environment and Life Sciences, 113Woodward Hall - 9 East Alumni Ave, Kingston, RI 02881-2020; telephone: 401- 874-2957.
WRDC Releases Climate Change Adaptations
Western scientists and extension specialists working on climate change share their research and outreach experiences in the latest edition of the Western Rural Development Center’s (WRDC) Rural Connections series: Climate Change Adaptations in the Rural West. Recognizing deep and adverse implications of climate change for rural prosperity in the west, WRDC Director Don Albrecht invited leading researchers and extension experts to contribute articles to help decisionmakers from the local to the societal level better understand climate change challenges. Issues covered include implications for agricultural production, privately owned forests, warming in Alaska and the Arctic, food security, energy-dependent states, water scarcity, and community preparedness. Overall, the publication highlights the importance of climate science for the region’s future. Contact Sally Maggard, NIFA national program leader for Regional Rural Development, for more information.
SET Expands To More Than 40 Regions Nationwide
The Stronger Economies Together (SET) is a national program that facilitates partnerships among rural counties to assess and implement action plans. This allows them to build on their economic strengths in order to increase their success as a region. The SET program has added 11 new states this year to the 8 states that participated in the program since its launch in 2010. More than 40 regions will now benefit from specialized training and technical assistance. The four Regional Rural Development Centers have worked in partnership with USDA Rural Development and its team of state Rural Development Directors to launch the SET program.
Cornell University Launches Elder Wisdom Website
Researchers from Cornell University have launched a new website featuring their Legacy Project, a research and outreach initiative focused on collecting practical wisdom from elders across the country. Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, and professor of gerontology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College began the Legacy Project in 2004. Using a number of various research methods Pillemer and his research team have been able to systematically gather nearly 1,500 responses to the question, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” People in their 70s and beyond from across the country shared their wisdom for living. Their advice ranges from how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, and how to deal with illness and loss. On the Legacy Project website, Pillemer and his team have summarized the advice from older persons and their solutions to major problems into “lessons” presented in a user-friendly format. Elders are also encouraged to submit advice while visiting the site. New lessons for living are posted weekly.
Meyer Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
Hendrik “Rick” Meyer, NIFA national program leader for Entomology, Division of Plant Systems – Protection, received the Livestock Insect Worker’s Conference Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in livestock entomology. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Livestock Insect Worker’s Conference in recognition of a career in livestock entomology actively pursuing research and extension with significant contributions to animal health and productivity through livestock entomology. Meyer is the 30th recipient of the award. The award highlighted Meyer’s achievements during 23 years of research and extension work at North Dakota State University as a livestock entomologist and department head and his national leadership at NIFA since 1997 to the Land-Grant University System supporting research, education, and extension on pests of veterinary importance.
NIFA’s WRDC Wins Awards
The Western Rural Development Center and KSAR Video Productions, both at Utah State University, won a Bronze Telly and a Gold ACE (Association for Communications Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences) award for their online video series, Working for Rural Prosperity. The Telly Awards honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the best video and film productions, and web commercials, videos, and films. The ACE Critique and Awards emphasis is on "critique," with entries evaluated on content, effectiveness, creativity, and technical production by well known judges in their areas of expertise.
The five-part video series features members of the WRDC’s board of directors addressing challenges and opportunities facing the West’s rural communities. The center links the research and extension capacity of land-grant universities in 13 western states and 4 U.S. territories. The efforts directly benefit rural communities by providing them with training and skills to invigorate their local economies. Contact Betsy Newman, WRDC communications specialist, for more information about the WRDC or the online video series.
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Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting 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.