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NIFA Update — August 17, 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.


  • 2011 CYFAR Grants Awarded
  • NIFA Family and Consumer Economics Invited to Present at FCC Financial Fair
  • New NPL for Vulnerable Populations
  • Rosenthal Fellow Joins NIFA
  • USDA and DOE Fund 10 Research Projects to Accelerate Bioenergy Crop Production and Spur Economic Impact
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • Minority Farmer Advisory Committee Held First Meeting
  • USDA Seeks Comments on the Proposed Rule for Animal Disease Traceability
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Reassures Farmers and Ranchers in States Affected by Extreme Weather
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Changes to CRP to Assist Producers Impacted by Severe Drought Conditions
  • More Than 1,000 New Farmers Markets Recorded Across Country 



  • National Workshop on Systems-Based Grant Programs


Awards and Recognition

  • Walls Assumes IAFP Presidency



  • Next Issue Scheduled August 31

2011 CYFAR Grants Awarded

4-H National Headquarters at NIFA announced the award of six new Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) grants to outstanding youth and family development programs. Grants will be funded up to $660,000 over the next 5 years. 

Each year CYFAR grants are awarded to land-grant university programs that will help vulnerable American communities, families, and youth develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary to have fulfilling, contributing lives. 2011 CYFAR SCP recipients:

  • Jennifer Kerpelman, Ph.D., Auburn University, Auburn University Sustainable Community Project
  • Rhoda Meador, Ph.D., Cornell University, Cornell University Sustainable Community Project: Citizen U
  • Shannon Dogan, Ph.D., The Regents of the University of California, University of California Sustainable Community Project: 4-H and the 4 F’s—Food, Fitness, Farming,
    and Fun!
  • Kimberly Allen, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, North Carolina 4-H Very Important Parents Sustainable Community Project
  • Shannon Jarrott, Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Tech Sustainable Community Project: Transforming Relationships with Intergenerational Programs
  • Melissa Stewart, West Virginia State University, Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia through Children’s Hands

For more information about Communities at Risk visit the NIFA website

NIFA Family and Consumer Economics Invited to Present at FCC Financial Fair

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended an invitation to federal agencies with the Network of Government Partners to participate in this year’s Financial Fair held August 16, in Washington, DC. The Financial Fair provided federal employees with information to improve their personal and family finances.

NIFA’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences participated and provided helpful financial information at the Family and Consumer Economics display. Susan Shockey, NIFA national program leader for Family and Consumer Economics program, was a featured speaker and delivered a presentation on “Today Decides Tomorrow:  Debt Repayment.” The Personal Debt Reduction program covered goal setting, money management, and debt management.  Shockey explained how to rebuild personal credit and introduced Utah State University’s Cooperative Extension Power Pay Program, an online program that helps consumers develop a personalized, self-directed debt elimination plan.

New NPL for Vulnerable Populations

Bonita Williams joined NIFA’s Division of Youth and 4-H on August 1 as the national program leader for Vulnerable Populations. Williams will oversee leadership for working with vulnerable audiences from the context of poverty, transitions inclusive of behavioral, social, and emotional health perspectives. Her responsibilities include the CYFAR grant program.

Williams brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role, including many positions with the Cooperative Extension Service in North Carolina, Missouri, and Virginia.

She holds memberships in National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, American Education Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. Williams has earned several degrees: a B.S. in family and consumer science from East Carolina University, an M.S. from North Carolina State University in adult and community college education, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a concentration in educational research and evaluation in career and technical education. She is located in the Waterfront Centre in Room 4423 and can be reached at 202-720-3566.

Rosenthal Fellow Joins NIFA

Nell Marie Williams joined NIFA as a Harold W. Rosenthal Fellow. This summer fellowship is designed for graduate students who are interested in international affairs and working for the U.S. government after graduation. A full-time Ph.D. student at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, she has spent a large part of her academic and professional career studying the intersection of science and public policy. During her 3 months at NIFA, she is developing a research project on the regulatory history of transgenic crops in the United States and other countries, especially in Asia, South America, and Africa.

Williams is currently finishing her doctorate degree in international relations. She holds a diploma of advanced studies (DEA) in political science from the Graduate Institute, in Geneva. Prior to moving to Switzerland, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Hawaii, Minoa, with a double major in political science and economics. She can be reached at NIFA until mid-September at 202-476-9791.

USDA and DOE Fund 10 Research Projects to Accelerate Bioenergy Crop Production and Spur Economic Impact

VERO BEACH, Fla., August 11 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stopped by a waste-to-energy bioprocessing facility under construction in Florida to announce that the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) have awarded 10 grants totaling $12.2 million to spur research into improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of growing biofuel and bioenergy crops. The grants are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and creating new opportunities for the American farming industry. 

Overall, USDA and DOE projects are designed to improve special crops to be grown for biofuels—including selected trees and grasses—by increasing their yield, quality and ability to adapt to extreme environments. Researchers will rely on the most advanced techniques of modern genomics to develop breeding and other strategies to improve the crops. The research will be conducted on switchgrass, poplar, Miscanthus and Brachypodium, among other plants. The potential benefits of this research range from decreasing oil imports to increasing options for American farmers. 

The 10 projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia. The full list can be found online at DOE website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA and DOE Fund 10 Research Projects to Accelerate Bioenergy Crop Production and Spur Economic Impact.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

See individual grant program.

Charles F. Cleland

Integrated Research, Education, And Extension Competitive Grants Program: Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers

August 19, 2011

Herbert Bolton

Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program

August 22, 2011

Ray A. Ali

People's Garden Grant Program

August 26, 2011

Thomas Bewick

Critical Agricultural Materials

September 2, 2011

Carmela Bailey

Military Family Readiness System (MFRS)

September12, 2011

Brent Elrod

Second Language & Cultural Exposure for Children and Youth Project (SLCECYP)

September 12, 2011

Brent Elrod

Biomass Research and Development Initiative

October 4, 2011

Carmela Bailey

Water Sustainability and Climate

October 19, 2011

Mary Ann Rozum

National Robotics Initiative: The Realization of Co-Robots Acting in Direct Support of Individuals and Groups

November 3, 2011

Daniel Schmoldt

NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the 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.

White House Rural Council Delivers Report on Rural America

WASHINGTON, August 12 - The White House Rural Council released a new report entitled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which lays out the economic landscape rural Americans face today and highlights the Administration's key accomplishments in rural communities. The Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America report focuses on five critical areas: creating jobs and promoting economic growth, improving access to quality health care and education, fostering innovation, expanding outdoor opportunities, and supporting veterans and military families.

On August 16, the President and members of the White House Rural Council will host the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, as part of the President's 3-day economic bus tour in the Midwest. The Forum will bring together farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities and small towns across the nation. The President will engage directly with a variety of rural leaders from across the nation to discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America. The full report is located on the White House website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the release White House Rural Council Delivers Report on Rural America.

Minority Farmer Advisory Committee Held First Meeting

WASHINGTON, August 9 - This past Thursday and Friday, August 11-12, the members of USDA's Minority Farmer Advisory Committee meet for the first time to discuss efforts to increase minority participation in Department programs and services. The establishment of this committee builds upon existing cultural transformation initiatives underway and will help ensure fair and equal access to USDA services.

The Minority Farmer Advisory Committee is authorized under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) and will advise the Secretary on "implementation of section 2501 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990; methods of maximizing the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs; and civil rights activities within the Department as such activities relate to participants in such programs."

Committee members are appointed for 2-year terms by the Secretary. The nominees include socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations that work with minority farmers and ranchers; civil rights professionals; representatives from institutions of higher learning; and other persons the Secretary deems appropriate. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Minority Farmer Advisory Committee Held First Meeting.

USDA Seeks Comments on the Proposed Rule for Animal Disease Traceability

WASHINGTON, August 9 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a proposed rule to establish general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate when animal disease events take place.

Under the proposed rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. The proposed rule encourages the use of low-cost technology and specifies approved forms of official identification for each species, such as metal ear tags for cattle. However, recognizing the importance and prevalence of other identifications in certain regions, shipping and receiving states or tribes are permitted to agree upon alternative forms of identification such as brands or tattoos. Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to make sure there can be a rapid response when animal disease events take place. This notice was published in the August 11, Federal Register. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before November 9, 2011. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Seeks Comments on the Proposed Rule for Animal Disease Traceability.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Reassures Farmers and Ranchers in States Affected by Extreme Weather

WASHINGTON, August 8 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pledged his commitment to the nation's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities that USDA would continue to work to deliver assistance to those affected by recent extreme weather, including floods, drought, fires and tornadoes. Vilsack said that USDA would work to offer flexibility to producers and encouraged producers to contact their local county or state USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office for assistance. Vilsack also announced additional flexibility in the Conservation Reserve Program that will assist producers struggling from drought in a number of states. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Reassures Farmers and Ranchers in States Affected by Extreme Weather.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Changes to CRP to Assist Producers Impacted by Severe Drought Conditions

WASHINGTON, August 8 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is modifying its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) policies to help those affected by sustained drought conditions. Throughout this year of extreme weather, USDA has supported and delivered assistance to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities across the country.

The policy changes influence FSA rules governing emergency grazing. The period normally allowed for emergency grazing lasts through September 30, 2011. FSA is permitting farmers and ranchers in drought stricken states who have been approved for emergency grazing, including those in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, to extend the emergency grazing period to October 31, 2011, without an additional payment reduction. Producers wishing to participate in emergency grazing must first request permission from the FSA county office by indicating the acreage to be grazed. As a second condition designed to help livestock producers, FSA will allow producers nationwide to utilize harvested hay from expiring CRP acres when those acres are being prepared for fall seeded crops. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Changes to CRP to Assist Producers Impacted by Severe Drought Conditions.

More Than 1,000 New Farmers Markets Recorded Across Country

WASHINGTON, August 5 – More than 1,000 new farmers markets have been recorded across the country, according to results released in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2011 National Farmers Market Directory. The annual report indicates a total of 7,175 farmers markets operate throughout the United States as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers than ever before. Last year, USDA reported that 6,132 markets were operating across the country.

Updated market listings were submitted to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by farmers’ market managers on a voluntary, self-reported basis between April 18 and June 24, 2011, as part of USDA's annual outreach effort. The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available on the AMS website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release More Than 1,000 New Farmers Markets Recorded Across Country.


National Workshop on Systems-Based Grant Programs

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative, and the Organic Transitions Program all solicit applications that use a systems approach and trans-disciplinary teams to meet challenges faced by producers and consumers. On August 9, NIFA national program leaders, in partnership with University of Tennessee-Knoxville, offered the third in a series of 1-day national workshops covering the preparation and management of competitively awarded systems-based grant applications. There were over 300 registered participants, with each of those potentially representing groups of viewers. 

The University of Tennessee hosted the webinar and provided top-quality technology and support for making these presentations available via the internet. The workshop video and PowerPoints are available on the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station website.  

For information on future and past NIFA Grantsmanship Workshops visit the NIFA website. Workshop archives from the previous 2 years can be found on the website. You can find both video and PowerPoint archives at the link.


Walls Assumes IAFP Presidency

Isabel Walls, NIFA national program leader for epidemiology in the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition assumed the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) presidencyat the conclusion of the their meeting in Milwaukee, WI, on August 3. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at the annual IAFP conference on USDA's focus on food safety. IAFP 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary for IAFP, which began as the International Association of Milk and Dairy Inspectors in Milwaukee in 1911. Issues regarding foodborne disease outbreaks, including the E. coli O104 outbreak in Europe, emerging chemical hazards in food, and the Food Safety Modernization Act were discussed throughout the meeting’s educational sessions.

As president, Walls and the executive board will guide the association in reaching its many short- and long-term objectives. IAFP’s mission is “to provide food safety professionals worldwide with a forum to exchange information on protecting the food supply.” It is a nonprofit educational association of 3,400 food protection professionals. IAFP publishes two scientific journals, Journal of Food Protection and Food Protection Trends.

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 31. Submit news items to: by August 24 to 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.

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.