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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update – December 5, 2012

NIFA Update — December 5, 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.


  • NIFA Colleagues Retire
  • Knox Joins OGFM
  • USDA Grants Support Research, Education, and Extension Activities at Tribal Colleges
  • USDA Investments in Pest Management Research Help to Protect America's Food Supply
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • 2012 Census of Agriculture
  • USDA Trade Mission Aims to Create Opportunities for U.S. Agriculture in Russia
  • USDA Study Shows Trends in Public and Private Agricultural R&D
  • USDA Scientists and Cooperators Sequence the Wheat Genome in Breakthrough for Global Food Security



  • Tribal College Program Fills Veterinary Void



  • USDA’s 89th Annual Outlook Conference


Awards and Recognition

  • Two Extension Specialists Earn Awards for Outstanding Achievement

  • Next issue of NIFA Update is December 19

NIFA Colleagues Retire

It is that time of year when many of our NIFA colleagues retire. We would like to recognize our distinguished retirees and thank them for their federal service. They are:

Maurice W. Dorsey, national program leader for public policy, NIFA Diversity Officer, Special Emphasis Program Manager - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Employees. Maurice provided national leadership for agriculture policy, urban extension, and diversity and social justice programs in NIFA’s Institute of Youth, Family, and Community.

Debra R. Lindsay, secretary to the IBCE assistant director. Debra provided executive administrative support and helped the assistant director and national program leaders in resolving operational problems.

Mark Poth, Director for IBCE’s Division of Bioenergy. Mark was responsible for coordinating the research, education, and Extension programs focused on the development of socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable bioenergy for rural communities and the nation.

D. Ramkishan (Ram) Rao, national program leader in the Division of Food Safety, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. Ram provided national leadership in identifying important emerging issues in food safety, grants management in food sciences, and partners between land-grant universities and NIFA.

Knox Joins OGFM

Paularie N. Knox has joined the Office of Grants and Financial Management (OGFM) as a policy specialist in the Policy and Oversight Division – Policy Branch I. She is involved with policy development, request for application development and assessment, regulatory review, and related policy assignments. Knox worked for the University of Arkansas - Division of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension Service as a county Extension agent prior to joining USDA. She received her B.S. degree in regulatory science with an agriculture concentration from University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and an M.S. degree in agriculture and Extension education from the University of Arkansas. Knox is located at the Waterfront Centre in Room 2312 and can be reached at 202-401-5059.

USDA Grants Support Research, Education, and Extension Activities at Tribal Colleges

WASHINGTON, December 3 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced nearly $17 million in grants to tribal colleges and universities to support research, education, and Extension activities to support schools in American Indian communities. Funded projects will focus on bolstering students’ learning in the areas of science and mathematics.

Tribal colleges and universities introduce components of Native American culture into their teaching curriculum. For example, an environmental biology class may be combined with studies of native plant species. Through the tribal research grants, tribal colleges partner with other land-grant universities to address issues of interest to the local Native American communities, such as preserving tribal forests or protecting water quality. Tribal college Extension services reach out to Native American ranchers and farmers to improve farm profitability. They also provide vital health, safety, and economic development information to tribal communities. The Tribal College Endowment supports facilities and other critical needs at these schools. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Investments in Pest Management Research Help to Protect America's Food Supply

WASHINGTON, December 3 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded more than $33 million to support research and Extension activities addressing pest management issues that have human health, environmental, and economic consequences across the nation. The awards were made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA offers a wide range of pest management programs that support the development of science-based solutions to address human health, environmental, and economic issues. NIFA supports research, education, and Extension activities that promote pest management in general and reduced-risk pest management in particular. The agency’s pest management programs are implemented through working partnerships with scientists at our nation’s colleges and universities, other federal agencies and the private sector.

NIFA’s pest management programs work in coordination with stakeholders to address the broad goals outlined in the National Roadmap for Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which was developed by federal and nonfederal IPM experts, practitioners and stakeholders in 2004. In addition, NIFA’s pest management programs play a key role in ensuring food security for all. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

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

AFRI-Foundational Program: Animal Health and Production and Animal Products

January 9, 2013

Mark A. Mirando

Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program

January 18, 2013

Gregory Smith

AFRI-Foundational Program: Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health

February 6, 2013

D. Ramkishan Rao

Higher Education Challenge Grants Program

February 8, 2013

Gregory Smith

Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program

February 11, 2013

Irma Lawrence

AFRI-Foundational Program: Agriculture Systems and Technology

February 13, 2013

Daniel Schmoldt

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP)

February 14, 2013

Tim Grosser

AFRI-Foundational Program: Plant Health and Production and Plant Products

February 18, 2013

Ann Lichens-Park

AFRI-Foundational Program: Renewable Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment

February 21, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy: A Joint Research Solicitation – USDA, DOE

 February 25, 2013

Ed Kaleikau

AFRI-Climate Variability and Change

April 15, 2013

Michael A. Bowers

AFRI-Foundational Program: Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities

May 22, 2013

Robbin Shoemaker


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.

2012 Census of Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is the nation’s leading source of information on U.S. agriculture.    While the census is particularly vital for folks in rural America, it’s important to remember that well-informed policy decisions have a positive impact for everyone. Even for families in our biggest cities, a strong rural America means an abundant food supply, cleaner water, extraordinary outdoor recreation, and more. That’s why it couldn’t be more important to make sure that all of our nation’s farmers and farmland are accurately accounted for.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will mail the Census of Agriculture in mid-December with a return deadline of February 4, 2013. This is an important process for USDA and we hope that everyone will help.

There are several ways you can help.

  • Use census promotional materials.
  • Share census facts with producers. FAQs are available online to answer questions.
  • Remind producers the information is totally confidential.
  • Encourage farmers and ranchers to respond. Need help completing the form contact? Call NASS at 888-424-7828.

Questions, comments, or concerns regarding the upcoming census can be directed to NASS Public Affairs Specialists Sue King or Krissy Young.

USDA Trade Mission Aims to Create Opportunities for U.S. Agriculture in Russia

WASHINGTON, November 29 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse will lead a mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Russia, December 3-7. Representatives from Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, and 21 American companies will attend. Two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Russia was valued at roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, with American farm exports accounting for 97 percent of the total—a significant contribution to the U.S. agricultural trade surplus.

Only 1 percent of U.S. companies export, and yet 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the borders of the United States, creating significant opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture. At the same time, the American agricultural economy is experiencing its strongest period in history with record exports and near-record income for farming families, altogether supporting 1-in-12 jobs in the United States. Exports of U.S. food and agricultural products are expected to reach $143.5 billion in fiscal 2013, well above the record set in 2011. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Scientists and Cooperators Sequence the Wheat Genome in Breakthrough for Global Food Security

WASHINGTON, November 28 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists working as part of an international team have completed a shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome, a paper published in the journal Nature reported today. The achievement is expected to increase wheat yields, help feed the world and speed up development of wheat varieties with enhanced nutritional value.

"By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas," said Catherine Woteki, USDA's Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "Genetics provides us with important methods that not only increase yields, but also address the ever-changing threats agriculture faces from natural pests, crop diseases and changing climates."

Olin Anderson and Yong Gu, scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) based at the agency's Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., played instrumental roles in the sequencing effort, along with Naxin Huo, a post-doctoral researcher working in Gu's laboratory. All three are co-authors of the Nature paper. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and the work supports the USDA goal of ensuring global food security. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Study Shows Trends in Public and Private Agricultural R&D

WASHINGTON, November 26 – Analysis published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) in the most recent issue of the journal Science examine the relationship between public and private investments in research and development (R&D) and their importance in agricultural input industries. The Science article is drawn from a recent ERS study that provides new details on the rapid growth and changing composition of private investments in global agricultural R&D and traces the implications for agriculture.

Research discussed in the article notes that, globally, most of the increase in agricultural production over the past 50 years can largely be attributed to rising crop and livestock yields rather than to the expansion of acreage devoted to farming. The article also discusses how growth in private R&D helped to offset the sluggish growth in public R&D, describes how public research has provided many of the fundamental discoveries, and highlights overlooked research areas that consequently attract private R&D. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Tribal College Program Fills Veterinary Void

With educational funding and support from NIFA, Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, NM, is one of many tribal colleges and 1994 land-grant institutions doing considerable work in scientific fields.

The teaching veterinary clinic at Navajo Tech was closed for a long time before Germaine Daye, director of veterinarian’s office, joined Navajo Tech as a professor in 2010. Recognizing its importance to farmers and ranchers in the Navajo Nation, Daye re-opened the clinic’s doors to 50 Navajo Tech students majoring in animal science. The reservation is short of veterinarians and the clinic provides small animal care and offers on-site calls to farmers and ranchers. Daye started a high school animal science program so more American Indian youth can get involved and consider animal care as a career. In 2011, six Navajo Tech Veterinary Technology program students passed their internship training, with 10 students graduating and pursuing college programs. Sixteen new students joined the 2012 program. The Navajo Tech Veterinary Technology program is supported through NIFA’s Tribal College Equity Grant program. The Equity Grant program provides Tribal College students with education in the food and agriculture sciences.

USDA’s 89th Annual Outlook Conference

The 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum - Managing Risk in the 21st Century is February 21-22, 2013, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA. Twenty-five sessions with more than 85 speakers will focus on managing risk; food prices and farm income; commodity outlooks; trade; global crop insurance; natural resource conservation for water, soil, and forests; nutritious diets; local foods; and food safety. The forum features the USDA commodity supply and demand and food price and farm income outlooks. Invited to speak are USDA policymakers, leading economists, and distinguished experts in the fields of international trade, finance, forestry, conservation, insurance futures, transportation, energy, nutrition, and food safety. Visit the forum website for more detailed information.

Two Extension Specialists Earn Awards for Outstanding Achievement

The purpose of the National Awards Committee for Family Life Extension Specialists is to reward state specialists for outstanding achievement and for demonstrating their skills at improving people's lives. Awardees demonstrate a mix of high-dosage education and excellent social science studies with documented behavioral and individual/family changes. The committee annually recognizes and honors exemplary work. This year’s awardees include:

Randy Weigel, Extension specialist in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Wyoming. He has taught the human risk management section of the Western Integrated Resource Education (WIRE) course. He is a contributing author for AG Help Wanted: Guidelines for Managing Agricultural Labor and the author of two Extension publication series: The Personal Nature of Agriculture and Agricultural Producers and Stress. He also developed the web-based teaching resources and fact sheets for Inclusive 4-H: Involving Youth with Disabilities in 4-H and contributes to the Enterprising Rural Families online educational resources for family businesses. He currently serves as project director for Wyoming AgrAbility: Cultivating Accessible Agriculture. 

Malcolm Smith, family life and family policy specialist at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension, was also awarded the Extension Family Life Early Achievement Award. Smith is a member of the UNH Department of Family Studies faculty and serves on the Department's Graduate Committee and Advocacy Committee. He also serves on the New Hampshire Legislative Task Force on Work and Family and writes a monthly column on work and family issues for the New Hampshire Business Review. He recently assisted in the founding of the Family Education Collaborative, a unique effort based in Manchester (NH), which unites Cooperative Extension with the YWCA of Manchester, UNH Manchester, UNH Department of Family Studies and Family Support New Hampshire to make a meaningful contribution to family research and parent education.

The next NIFA issue is planned for December 19. Submit news items to: by November 14. 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: 12/06/2012