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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update – September 27, 2012

NIFA Update — September 27, 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.


  • 2012 Secretary’s Honor Awards Program - REE Reception
  • O’Neill Leaves NIFA for University of Connecticut
  • Visiting Scholar Develops Forum for International EDEN Memberships
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • Claims Filing Period Open for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers
  • USDA Report Shows History of Major Nutrition Assistance Programs Providing Americans with Critical Safety Net in Economically Challenging Times
  • USDA, Partner Agencies to Participate in Series of Regional Meetings to Coordinate Long-Term Drought Response
  • USDA Announces New Release Time of Key Statistical Reports, Beginning January 2013



  • Purdue Announces Interim CES Director
  • Nebraska Announces New Dean/Director for UNL Extension


Awards and Recognition

  • Hastings to Receive ESP Award

  • Next issue of NIFA Update is October 10

2012 Secretary’s Honor Awards Program - REE Reception

NIFA hosted the USDA Research, Education, and Economics mission area (REE) Reception September 12 at the Waterfront Centre in recognition of the 2012 REE Secretary’s Honor Award winners. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presented awards at the formal ceremony in the Jefferson Auditorium of the USDA South Building later that day. The Secretary’s Honor Awards program recognizes outstanding contributions to agriculture, the environment, consumers, and to rural America. The Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards presented by USDA.

REE winners this year included two individuals and seven groups. Elvis Cordova, REE Chief of Staff, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA Director; Dr. Edward Knipling, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Administrator; and Dr. Mary Bohman, Economic Research Service (ERS) Administrator presented certificates to award members. The award winners:

Category:  Assisting rural communities to create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, repopulating, and thriving economically.

  • Small Business Innovation Research Team, NIFA

Citation:  Recognized for efforts in advancing rural economies through supporting the commercialization of new scientific concepts by small businesses.
Group Leader: Charles Cleland
Group Members: Priscilla Bosco, Frank Boteler, Susan Bowman, Linda Brown, Scott Dockum, Pandora Dubose, Laurie Fortis, LaTracey Gaskins, William Goldener, Elden Hawkes, Richard Hegg, Gary Jensen, Shynika Loften, Bruce Mertz, Ali Mohamed, Similola Ogunyankin, Carl Piekarski, Mark Poth, Jimese Price, Deborah Sheely, Tobie Simms, Frederica Steward, Eric Still, Suresh Sureshwaran, Dionne Toombs, Adele Turzillo, Jodi Williams, Amy Wilson, and Adriene Woodin.

  • Beginning Farmer Program Team, NIFA

Citation: Recognized for excellence in outreach and collaboration with new stakeholder groups to enhance access to USDA programs and the sustainability of farmers, especially socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers and farm works.
Group Leader: Suresh Sureshwaran
Group Members: Susan Bowman, Bradley Rein, Charles Cleland, Erin Daly, Ruth Dunmore, Stephanie Engle, LaTracey Gaskins, Leslie Gilbert, Katrena Hanks, Angela Halloman, Omar Lugo, Jennifer Martin, Patricia McAleer, Joanna Moore, Laarina Mulltings, Deborah Sheely, Angela Simmons, Paulette Smith, Eric Still, and Adriene Woodin.

  • Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership Program, ARS 

Citation: Recognized for creating the Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership (ATIP) program and using the ATIP network to provide rural farmers and businesses USDA technology-based solutions to their regional agricultural problems.
Group Leader:  Richard Brenner
Group Member: Robert Griesbach

  • Dr. Donald Knowles, ARS

Citation:  Recognized for leading research on controlling re-emergent foreign animal diseases in the United States and in building a national and international research community that is training the next generation of agricultural scientists.

 Category:  Helping America promote sustainable agricultural production and biotechnology exports as America works to increase food security.

  • Maize Genetic Diversity Research Group, ARS

Citation:  Recognized for pioneering research on development and application of innovative genetic and genomics-based tools to exploit genetic diversity in corn to improve corn yield potential in the United States and developing countries.
Group Leader:  Edward Buckler
Group Members: Peter Bradbury, Sherry Flint-Garcia, Jim Holland, Michael McMullen, and Doreen Ware 

Category:  Management Excellence - A Modern Workplace with a Modern Workforce

  • Business Services Transformation Team, Office of the REE Under Secretary

Citation: Recognized for leading successful transformation of Research, Education, and Economics business services into virtual centers that effectively use limited staff, reduce costs, and capitalize on new technologies to enhance work performance.
Group Leaders: Caird Rexroad and Lisa Baldus
Group Members: Michael Arnold, Michael Barnes,  Sherri Carroll, Willis Collie, Scott Davis, Sharon Drumm, Scott Finke, Paul Gibson, Carol Gramlich, Sandra Gutierrez, Donald Jones, Wendy Jones, Marilyn Low, Karen Lucas, Robert Magill, Donald McLellan, Joon Park, Pajesh Pujara, Carlos Santoyo, Steven Shafer, Diane Strub, Jeffery Van Houten,  Debra Vandergrift, and Michael Wiggett

 Category:  Personal and Professional Excellence

  • Keith Fuglie, ERS

Citation: Recognized for leading research in agricultural science policy and productivity, resulting in new global assessments of the role of public and private research in contributing to agricultural productivity.

 Category: Diversity and Inclusion

  • Distance Learning and Mentorship Program, ERS

Citation: Recognized for sustained excellence and foresight in developing a more diverse community of agricultural economists and policy analysis through the ERS Distance Learning and Mentorship program for minority-servicing institutions.
Group Leaders:  Keithly Jones and Christopher Davis
Group Member:  Robert Donegan

  • Your Two Cents Team, ARS

Citation:  Recognized for creating, establishing, maintaining, and continually upgrading the culture-changing employee feedback and communications forum in ARS, Your Two Cents, which facilitates inclusion for employees and continuous improvements for ARS.
Groups Leaders: Sharon Drumm and Larry Chandler
Group Members: James Bradley, Ellen Buckley, Jeffrey Carroll, Michele Esch, Robert Fletcher, Linda Fulton, Donna Gibson, Mari Gomez, David Goodrich, Stewart Gray, Sandra Groneberg, Tracy Havermann, Molly Jahn, Daniel Lee, Marilyn Low, Donald McLellan, Carol Moran, Angela Newcomb, Rajesh Pujara, Perry Rainosek. Caird Rexroad, Josph Rinehart, Judith St. John, Julie TararaJamie Wadzink, Shatrugna Vadwlas, Candace Wilson, Lori Wilson-Voss,  and Stephanie Young.

O’Neill Leaves NIFA for University of Connecticut

Dr. Mike O’Neill will leave NIFA on November 2 for the University of Connecticut. He has accepted the associate dean and associate director Extension position in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. O’Neill joined the former Cooperative State Research Service in 1998 and became national program leader for Water Quality in 2000. He provides leadership for NIFA’s research, education, and Extension portfolio on water resources in agricultural, rural, and urbanizing watersheds.

Visiting Scholar Develops Forum for International EDEN Memberships

Dr. Virginia Morgan, chair of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and Administrator III, Outreach Programs at Auburn University Alabama Cooperative Extension, recently completed NIFA’s Family and Consumer Sciences Visiting Scholars Program. Morgan focused on developing guidelines for an international pilot program for EDEN. She presented a webinar entitled “EDEN: Ready for the World?” to NIFA leadership and EDEN delegates. The group discussed the advantages and disadvantages of global memberships and how they can serve EDEN’s strategic goals. There was much insight gained on how the international scope of EDEN compliments NIFA’s mission. International membership is on the agenda for the EDEN National Conference, October 23-26 in Tunica, MS.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food Safety

December 5, 2012

Jeanette Thurston

Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases

December 5, 2012

Peter Johnson

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

December 11, 2012

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.

Claims Filing Period Open for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades can file claims between September 24, 2012, and March 25, 2013. The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied their applications for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers. There are no filing fees to participate in the program. Go to the Farmer Claims website for more information or call toll free 888-508-4429. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Report Shows History of Major Nutrition Assistance Programs Providing Americans with Critical Safety Net in Economically Challenging Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) released a new research report that investigates the relationship between economic conditions and participation in USDA's five largest nutrition assistance programs. Most notably, the increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation during 2008-10 was consistent with the increase during the previous three economic downturns (1980-81, 1990-92, 2001-03), after adjusting for the increase in the unemployment rate.

SNAP is the nation's first line of defense against hunger and helps put food on the table for millions of low-income families and individuals every month. In fact, 82 percent of SNAP households are elderly or contain a disabled person, support one or more children, or are the working poor. The report is located on the ERS website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA, Partner Agencies to Participate in Series of Regional Meetings to Coordinate Long-Term Drought Response

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 – Recognizing that recovery from the drought that affected much of the farm belt will be a lengthy process, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the scheduling of four regional meetings that will outline available resources to assist with local, regional, and state recovery efforts. USDA will coordinate with state and local partners, working closely with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to facilitate these meetings.

The meetings will be coordinated through area partners, such as universities or business groups, and state agencies and will be invitational and regional in scope. Specific details will be announced later, but the meetings will kick off in Omaha, Neb., on October 9, with meetings to follow in Ohio, Colorado, and Arkansas. The meetings will assess drought recovery issues.

The Secretary also announced the implementation of the National Disaster Recovery Framework. The framework links local, state, tribal, and federal governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental and community organizations that play vital roles in recovery. The full text of the framework can be found on the FEMA website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces New Release Time of Key Statistical Reports, Beginning January 2013

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 – USDA announced that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) will begin issuing several major USDA statistical reports at 12 p.m. e.d.t. beginning in January 2013. The current USDA release time of 8:30 a.m. e.d.t. will remain in effect until January 1, 2013. USDA statistical reports affected are: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Acreage, Crop Production, Grain Stocks, Prospective Plantings, and Small Grains Summary. The time for livestock reports, currently released at 3 p.m. e.d.t., will not change.

Between June 8 and July 9, 2012, USDA sought public comment on the release times for several major statistical reports in response to changes in market hours by major commodity exchanges. Stakeholders submitted 147 comments through the NASS online response site and via letter and email. The comments received may be viewed on the NASS website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Purdue Announces Interim CES Director

Purdue University announced that Dr. Jim Mintert began serving as interim director of Extension/associate dean on September 27, and will continue until a permanent director/associate dean is in place. Prior to joining Purdue’s faculty in 2009, Mintert was a professor and Extension state leader in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri.

Nebraska Announces New Dean/Director for UNL Extension

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Hibberd, former district director of University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s (UNL) Panhandle Research and Extension Center, is the new dean and director of University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Hibberd has been director of Extension and associate dean of agriculture at Purdue University since 2007. He received his B.S. in agriculture, with an animal science major, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University in animal science and animal nutrition, respectively. Hibberd will have signature authority for UNL Extension.  His contact information is: UNL Extension, 211 Agricultural Hall, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0703. Telephone: 402-472-2966, Fax: 402-472-5557. 

Hastings to Receive ESP Award

Dr. Shirley Hastings, associate dean of University of Tennessee Extension and head of Family and Consumer Sciences, is this year’s National Distinguished Ruby Award winner from Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP). ESP is the professional organization that represents university Extension employees nationwide. This award is regarded as the most prestigious presented by ESP and recognizes leadership, visionary thinking, and performance on the local, state, and national levels. Hastings will receive the honor at ESP’s conference October 7–10 in Mobile, AL. Hastings will also be recognized as the East Tennessee winner of the Excellence, Equity, and Equality Award, given by the Tennessee Summit for Women. She will receive the “E-award” at the group’s meeting October 22 at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

The next NIFA issue is planned for October 10. Submit news items to: by October 3. 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: 09/27/2012