Advanced SearchHomeAbout UsGrantsFormsNewsroomHelpContact Us
Browse by Subject
Agricultural Systems
Animals & Animal Products
Biotechnology & Genomics
Economics & Commerce
Families, Youth, & Communities
Food, Nutrition, & Health
Natural Resources & Environment
Pest Management
Plant & Plant Products
Technology & Engineering
You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update - July 26, 2012

NIFA Update — July 26, 2012

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.


  • USDA Chief Scientist Releases Science White Papers
  • NIFA SBIR Research Grant Pays Off
  • Agriculture and Energy Departments Announce New Investments to Drive Innovations in Biofuels and Biobased Products
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • USDA Announces Federal Resource Guilde to Assist Rural Communities
  • USDA Announces 2.0 Version of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass 
  • USDA Releases Agroforestry Guide for Farmers, Woodland Owners 
  • USDA Exceeds First Lady's HealthierUS School Challenge Goal 
  • Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the House Agriculture Committee's Approval of the Food Farm and Jobs Bill
  • USDA Announces Streamlined Disaster Designation Process  


  • Nelson Named Regional Coordinator and Director of Research and Education Programs for NCR-SARE 
  • UNL Names New Extension Director and Associate Dean of Agriculture
  • Floros Named KSU Dean and Director
  • Place is Named UFL Extension Dean and CES Director



  • NARDeP Requests Proposals for White Paper

  • Samuel Receives AAFCS Recognition
  • HSI Student Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

  • Next issue of NIFA Update is August 15

USDA Chief Scientist Releases Science White Papers

Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, recently released peer-reviewed science papers that elaborate on USDA's Action Plan for science. Some of the biggest challenges facing us include - a changing climate, uncertain energy sources, rising childhood obesity rates, food insecurity around the globe. The Action Plan provides an in-depth analysis of these challenges and identifies the roles of USDA’s science agencies in addressing them. A key part of making the goals of the Action Plan a reality is coordinating efforts across not only USDA’s scientific agencies, but with our Land-Grant University partners, other federal agencies, and other partners around the country and world.

Building on the Action Plan, senior advisors in the Office of the Chief Scientist, worked with teams across USDA to dig deeper into global challenges and articulate for USDA Science: 1) the roles played in addressing each challenge; 2) the key strategies to focus on in fulfilling those roles; 3) what we are currently doing; 4) what we plan to do; and 5) the anticipated outcomes from this work. The following papers will provide detailed descriptions of USDA’s work in these areas, and will serve as resources for those interested in these issues:


NIFA SBIR Research Grant Pays Off

The country is facing the worst drought in 50 years. It has brought many challenges to farmers, ranchers, and to all walks of life. The U.S. Drought Monitor predicts that the drought will persist or intensify between now and the end of September.

The drought presents real consequences to farmers in that nitrate levels increase in plant forage. When farmers feed this forage to cattle or other livestock, it can cause nitrate toxicity. Farmers need to check nitrate levels in the forage and water to make sure they are safe. NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funded a research grant with the Nitrate Elimination Company (NECi). With this funding, NECi developed various test kits to identify nitrate levels in water or forage. These tests are based on the use of nitrate reducing enzymes rather than cadmium chemistry and thus are more environmentally friendly than the older cadmium-based tests. NECi tested most common crops and feed types, including corn, sorghum, wheat, hay, and many vegetable crops.  Results were validated by university laboratories, Agricultural Research Service researchers, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service labs. This technology is available and likely to be very important as the drought continues.


Agriculture and Energy Departments Announce New Investments to Drive Innovations in Biofuels and Biobased Products

Washington, July 26 – As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to enhance U.S. energy security, reduce America's reliance on imported oil and leverage our domestic energy supply, while also supporting rural economies, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy announced a $41 million investment in 13 projects that will drive more efficient biofuels production and feedstock improvements.

Through the joint Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), USDA and the Energy Department are working to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products. The five projects announced will help to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio and replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles.

The Energy Department and USDA are also announced $10 million for eight research projects aimed at applying biomass genomics to improve promising biofuel feedstocks and drive more efficient, cost-effective energy production. These projects will use genetic mapping to advance sustainable biofuels production by analyzing and seeking to maximize genetic traits like feedstock durability, how tolerant feedstocks are to various environmental stresses, and the potential for feedstocks to be used in energy production. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI)

See solicitation deadlines.

Carmela Bailey

Rangeland Research Program (RRP)

July 30, 2012

James P. Dobrowolski

Aligning and Elevating University-Based Low-Income Nutrition Education: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)

August 1, 2012

Helen Chipman

Critical Agricultural Materials

August 3, 2012

Carmela Bailey

The Food Security Learning Center August 9, 2012 Jane M. Clary

Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship (NNF) Grants Program

August 15, 2012

Ray A. Ali

Expert Integrated Pest Management Decision Support System August 20, 2012 Herbert Bolton

Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP)

August 29, 2012

Ray A. Ali

Small Business Innovation Research: Biofuels and Biobased Products

September 6, 2012

William Goldner

Small Business Innovation Research: Forests and Related Resources September 6, 2012 Charles F. Cleland
Small Business Innovation Research: Plant Production and Protection - Biology September 6, 2012 Shing F. Kwok

Small Business Innovation Research Program: Engineering

September 6, 2012

William Goldner

Small Business Innovation Research: Food Science and Nutrition September 6, 2012 Jodi Williams
Small Business Innovation Research: Rural Development September 6, 2012 Siva Sureshwaran
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) September 6, 2012 Charles F. Cleland
Small Business Innovation Research Program: Phase I September 6, 2012 Charles F. Cleland
Small Business Innovation Research: Small and Mid-Size Farms September 6, 2012 Charles F. Cleland
Small Business Innovation Research: Air, Water, and Soils September 6, 2012 Mary Ann Rozum
Small Business Innovation Research: Animal Production and Protection September 6, 2012 Adele Turzillo
Small Business Innovation Research: Aquaculture September 6, 2012 Gary Jensen
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit: Research in Biomedicine and Agriculture Using Agriculturally Important Domestic Species September 20, 2012 Mark A. Mirando
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food Safety November 14, 2012 Jeanette Thurston


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.

USDA Announces Federal Resource Guide to Assist Rural Communities

INDIANAPOLIS, July 20 – USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced the publication of a guide outlining programs the federal government has available to support rural communities as they promote economic development and enhance the quality of life for rural residents. The publication Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities is a collaborative effort among USDA, the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It ensures rural communities have access to all of the federal resources that can support their efforts to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments, modernize infrastructure, and provide services to residents. The guide has key information on funding and technical assistance opportunities available from the four organizations, as well as examples of how rural communities across the country have benefitted from federal resources. A copy of the resource guide is available in the Spotlight section of the USDA Rural Development website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces 2.0 Version of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass 

WASHINGTON, July 17 – USDA unveiled an updated version of its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. The KYF2 Compass is an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects through successful producer, business and community case studies.

The updated version includes new case studies and additional mapped data, including locations of farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processing facilities. The map also features enhanced search functions that allow for easier navigation. Visit the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website, or join the conversation on Twitter by using the hash tag #KYF2, for more information. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Releases Agroforestry Guide for Farmers, Woodland Owners

WASHINGTON, July 16 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan released a first-of-its-kind practical agroforestry handbook that contains information to help establish, manage, and market agroforestry projects that are profitable and sustainable over time. The handbook, Profitable Farms and Woodlands, is written for underserved and limited resource farmers and woodland owners living in the Southeast and includes five main agroforestry practices: alley cropping, forest farming, riparian buffer strips, silvopasture, and windbreaks.

Among the information in the book are simple explanations of how growing medicinal plants, mushrooms, or cultivating bee products can help landowners become part of a multi-billion dollar industry. In Georgia, for example, a forest farmer can grow goldenseal and earn $6,500 an acre. Or an 800-log shiitake business can reap roughly $6,000 per year. Other information focuses on responsible landownership through the use of windbreaks and riparian buffers. Riparian buffers can help a farmer save money or even earn added income because the buffers help protect water quality, improve food and cover for wildlife and fish, and can even be designed to grow profitable products such as berries, nut crops, and timber. Visit the USD Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Exceeds First Lady's HealthierUS School Challenge Goal 

WASHINGTON, July 16 – USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton announced that 3,717 schools are now certified in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that boosts the health and nutrition of the nation's schoolchildren. The HUSSC is one of the key parts of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.

In February 2010, the First Lady and USDA challenged stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within a year and then add 1,000 schools per year for the following 2 years. Schools participating in the challenge are recognized with Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze certification. Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the House Agriculture Committee's Approval of the Food Farm and Jobs Bill

WASHINGTON, July 12 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement regarding the House Agriculture Committee's approval of the Food Farm and Jobs Bill: "Americans deserve a farm and jobs bill that reforms the safety net for producers in times of need, promotes the bio-based economy, conserves our natural resources, strengthens rural communities, promotes job growth in rural America, and supports food assistance to low-income families.

Unfortunately, the bill produced by the House Agriculture Committee contains deep cuts in SNAP, including a provision that will deny much-needed food assistance to 3 million Americans, mostly low-income working families with children as well as seniors. The proposed cuts will deny 280,000 children in low-income families access to school meals and reduce farm income across rural America. These cuts wouldn't just leave Americans hungry – they would stunt economic growth. The bill also makes misguided reductions to critical energy and conservation program efforts. As the legislative process moves forward, the Administration will continue to seek policy solutions and savings across the Farm Bill that are consistent with the President's Budget."

USDA Announces Streamlined Disaster Designation Process    

WASHINGTON, July 11 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a package of program improvements that will deliver faster and more flexible assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters. Vilsack announced three significant improvements to decades-old USDA programs and processes related to Secretarial disaster designations: a final rule that simplifies the process for Secretarial disaster designations and will result in a 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters; a reduced interest rate for emergency loans that effectively lowers the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent; and a payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25 to 10 percent.

USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. In addition, USDA reminds livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses, including additional expenses for such things as food purchased due to lost supplies. More information about federal crop insurance may be found on the Risk Management Agency website. Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with flooding are located on the USDA Emergency Preparedness and Response website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


Nelson Named Regional Coordinator and Director of Research and Education Programs for NCR-SARE

Beth Nelson was named regional coordinator and director of Research and Education Programs for the North Central Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (NCR-SARE), effective July 16.

Nelson will serve as the key staff person to the region's administrative council, which develops the regional office's program goals and makes funding decisions. She will provide leadership for the program, supervise staff, and manage grants and budgets. Nelson earned graduate degrees in plant physiology at Purdue University and the University of Minnesota before joining the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in 2000 as the associate program director for the Information and Exchange Program. NCR-SARE is located at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus.

UNL Names New Extension Director and Associate Dean of Agriculture

Charles "Chuck" Hibberd, former district director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, is the new dean and director of University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension. The Nebraska native and UNL graduate will assume the position October 1. Hibberd was director of Extension and associate dean of agriculture at Purdue University since 2007. Previously, he was director of the Panhandle Center at Scottsbluff for 13 years. Hibberd received his bachelor's degree in agriculture, with an animal science major, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University (OSU) in animal science and animal nutrition, respectively. He was a faculty member at OSU from 1982-94.

Alan Moeller, assistant IANR vice chancellor, is serving as interim dean and director of UNL Extension until Hibberd arrives. There are a number of opportunities ahead for UNL Extension to be a major part of new initiatives at the University of Nebraska, such as the Daugherty Water for Food Institute, the Buffett Early Childhood Education Institute, and the about-to-be-launched Rural Futures Institute.

Floros Named KSU Dean and Director

John D. Floros, professor and head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University, was chosen as the new dean of the Kansas State University (KSU) College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. He will assume his duties August 1.

His achievements include increasing undergraduate enrollment and doubling the size of the doctoral program at Penn State. He played an integral role in increasing outreach and distance education programs, while raising funds to build the largest food science building in the country. Floros also worked as an international industry consultant for more than 25 years and served as a professor at Purdue University for 12 years. His contact information is: Dr. John D. Floros, Dean, College of Agriculture, Director, K-State Research and Extension, Kansas State University,114 Waters Hall, Manhattan, KS  66506-4008; Telephone:785-532-7137;Fax:785-532-6563.

Place is Named UFL Extension Dean and CES Director

Nick T. Place, was named Extension dean and director of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CES), Gainesville, FL. He begins his tenure with the University of Florida on August 31. Place earned his B.S. in dairy husbandry at Delaware Valley College. He earned his M.S. in dairy and animal science and his Ph.D. in agricultural and extension education, both from Penn State University. His contact information is: Nick T. Place, Dean for Extension and Director, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 1038 McCarty Hall D, P.O. Box 110210, Gainesville, Fl 32611-0210; Telephone:352-392-1761;Fax:352-846-0458.


NARDeP Requests Proposals for White Paper

The National Agricultural & Rural Development Policy Center (NARDeP) is requesting applications to produce a white paper on issues related to broadband access and adoption among rural people, farm/nonfarm enterprises, and places. The successful applicant will include a comprehensive, up-to-date review and synthesis of the appropriate literature and identify key policy issues, options, challenges, and consequences related to broadband access, adoption, and use in rural America, as well as policy brief based on the white paper.

Applicants are urged to consider: a) the nature and extent of the digital divide across geographic space; b) what factors strengthen or impede broadband adoption by rural households, businesses, and communities; c) the relationship between broadband access and economic vitality of rural areas; d) the role of federal investments strengthening broadband access and Internet use; and e) policy options or refinements needed to expand broadband access, adoption, and use in rural America. The proposal should address these topics and other broadband-related questions relevant to the call for proposals. Drawing upon the current social sciences-based research literature will be essential.

To apply, please send a full curriculum vitae, budget, and a 2-3 page plan of work as one single PDF file to Dr. Bo Beaulieu at by August 17, 2012.The subject line of the email should read Broadband Quote. Questions about the call for proposals should be submitted to the same email address.

Samuel Receives AAFCS Recognition

Beverly C. Samuel, national program leader for Housing and Community Living in NIFA’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences, was honored at the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) Conference for her 25 years of continuous certification in the AAFCS Family and Consumer Sciences program, since its inception in 1987. She was recognized for her professional competence, growth, and commitment to the program.

HSI Graduate Student Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Isael Rubio, a graduating senior at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), who worked on a NIFA Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grant, received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellowship. Rubio also won CSUMB's 2012 Alumni Vision Award " recognition to the graduating student who best exemplifies the Vision of CSU Monterey Bay of preparing leaders for a collaborative, multicultural society." Rubio will start a Ph.D. program in plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison this fall.


The next NIFA issue is planned for August 15. Submit news items to: by August 8. If you have questions about Update, please contact the Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff.

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.

Sonny Ramaswamy, 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.

Questions? Comments? Last Updated: 07/26/2012