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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update –May 2, 2013

NIFA Update — May 2, 2013

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 2014 President’s Budget Proposal
  • Ngouajio Becomes NPL for Organic Programs
  • USDA Partners with the Department of Defense and the Cooperative Extension Service to Develop Guides Focused on Supporting Military Families
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Disaster Assistance to Producers and Communities in 12 States Affected by Superstorm Sandy
  • USDA Calls on Communities to Help Fill the Summer Meal Gap



  • SARE's New Collection of How-To Resources



  • 2013 National SBIR Conference


Awards and Recognition

  • Chen Named Certified Food Scientists


  • Next issue of NIFA Update is May 8, 2013

NIFA 2014 President’s Budget Proposal
By Sonny Ramaswamy
Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

By now most, if not all, of you have seen the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget of $1.29 billion in discretionary funding for NIFA, details of which are provided on our website.

The budget reflects President Barack Obama’s and Secretary Tom Vilsack’s commitment to innovation and education, ensuring our nation’s continued global preeminence in the food and agricultural enterprise.

Three guiding principles were used to develop the proposed FY 2014 budget: seek significant increase in funding for competitive grants under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI); maintain capacity funds to support research, Extension, and education at FY 2012 levels; and protect funding for minority-serving institutions.

We facilitate the integration of research, education, and Extension to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in the food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences go beyond the laboratory and make their way into the classroom and to people who can put the knowledge into practice and improve their lives. Our national program leaders identify, develop, and manage the various programs to enable university-based and other institutional research, education, and Extension programming. We will work with the best and brightest scientists in the United States and around the world to find innovative solutions to local, regional, and worldwide problems.

Funding will support programs that provide foundational knowledge and create substantial impacts by addressing critical agricultural issues. Through effective and efficient administration of federal assistance awards and agreements, we will ensure that our nation’s food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences enterprise continues to remain globally preeminent.

Some of the highlights in the priorities for NIFA’s FY 2014 budget include:

  • Targeted efforts that develop solutions for high-priority challenges in production agriculture; adapt crop and livestock agriculture to climate variability; address critical water and water resources problems; reduce childhood obesity; improve food safety and nutrition; and ensure sustainable agriculture that provides for food security and meets goals for biofuels, while strengthening rural communities.
  • Increased AFRI support to foundational programs—including a new initiative called the Critical Agricultural Research and Extension Competition—that focus on short-term issues important to agricultural production.
  • Support for a new Food, Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative within AFRI to enhance science, agriculture, food, and environmental education and literacy in schools and colleges across America.
  • Enhanced linkages among producers, scientific discovery, and application of sustainable practices through the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Program.
  • Consolidation of integrated pest management programs into one integrated program called Crop Protection/Pest Management.
  • Promotion of a vibrant Cooperative Extension System.
  • Support for capacity building and other minority-serving programs.
  • Consolidation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs under the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Priority Issues:

  • Agricultural and Food Production and Security
  • Agricultural Production and Climate Variability
  • Water and Water Resources
  • Sustainable Bioenergy
  • Nutrition and Health
  • Food Safety
  • Foundational Science
  • Food, Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Human
    Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative
  • Interagency Collaborations

Additional details about the FY 2014 budget are available in the explanatory notes.

We look forward to working with you to realize this budget to ensure our nation’s food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences enterprise remains globally preeminent.

Ngouajio Becomes NPL for Organic Programs

Mathieu Ngouajio joins NIFA as a national program leader working with organic programs in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability’s Division of Plant Production.  He has an agricultural engineer degree in crop protection from the University of Dschang in Cameroon, an M.S. in weed science and plant physiology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in weed science/plant biology from Laval University in Quebec, Canada.

Ngouajio worked in the Horticulture Department at Michigan State University where he was just promoted to professor. He has been at Michigan State since 2001 in a research/extension appointment and prior to that worked as a postdoctoral associate at the University of California-Riverside. His expertise and research experience is in developing robust, resilient, and profitable agro-ecosystems. Ngouajio is located at the Waterfront Centre in Room 3441, and can be reached at 202-401-4895.

USDA Partners with the Department of Defense and the Cooperative Extension Service to Develop Guides Focused on Supporting Military Families

WASHINGTON, April 15 – The family members of military members often face unique challenges during and after deployment. In an effort to involve entire communities in supporting these families, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) developed a series of publications with guidance for various audiences that assist and support members of the military, veterans and their families. The publications were developed in collaboration with the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University and the National Military Family Association. USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki helped unveil these publications at an event in Washington in support of April as “Month of the Military Child” and the 2-year anniversary of Joining Forces, the initiative to support military families launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

Since September 11, 2001, more than two million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to DOD’s 2011 Demographics Profile of Military Families, more than half (53.3 percent) of DOD military personnel are married, and 43.9 percent have children.  Multiple deployments, combat injuries, and the challenges of reintegration can have far-reaching effects on not only the troops and their families, but also upon America’s communities as well.

The series features 11 issues tailored to audiences such as medical professionals, faith-based communities, educators, employers, financial institutions, legal professionals, first responders, mental health professionals, and families and friends. USDA’s NIFA is distributing the publications to Cooperative Extension offices across the nation. Cooperative Extension staff in each county will distribute materials to citizens through educational sessions and online. The publications are also available online from Military OneSource and eXtension. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Children, Youth and Families at Risk Professional Development and Technical Assistance Program

April 29, 2013

Bonita Williams

Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program (WAMS)

April 29, 2013

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

AgrAbility and Youth Farm Safety

May 1, 2013

Aida Balsano

Regional Integrated Pest Management Program - North Central Region (NC-RIPM)

May 16, 2013

Robert Nowierski

Regional Integrated Pest Management Program - Northeastern Region (NE-RIPM)

May 16, 2013

Robert Nowierski

Regional Integrated Pest Management Program - Southern Region (S-RIPM)

May 16, 2013

Robert Nowierski

Regional Integrated Pest Management Program - Western Region (W-RIPM)

May 16, 2013

Robert Nowierski

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - Methyl Bromide Transitions Program (MBT)

May 21, 2013

Martin A. Draper

AFRI - Foundational Program: Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities

May 22, 2013

Robbin Shoemaker

Capacity Building Grants for Non Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program (NLGCA)

May 30, 2013

Gregory Smith

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Food Security

July 17, 2013

Robbin Shoemaker

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Carbon Cycle Science

July 31, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

Multi-partner Call on Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research

September 3, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

Water Sustainability and Climate

September 10, 2013

Mary Ann Rozum


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.


Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Disaster Assistance to Producers and Communities in 12 States Affected by Superstorm Sandy

WASHINGTON, April 22 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an important package of disaster assistance valued at $209 million to help farmers, land owners, and communities recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program, and Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Together, the assistance will help rebuild and repair land damaged by flooding and other events in 12 states. Qualifications for funds are based on the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, while funding is provided under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, signed by President Obama on January 29. This announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

Through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), USDA will offer up to $171 million to help communities recover. EWP helps conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters. Recovery assistance for Superstorm Sandy could include: debris-clogged stream channels; undermined and unstable stream banks; jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures; wind-borne debris removal; and damaged upland sites stripped of protective vegetation. Both public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but they must be represented by a project sponsor. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Calls on Communities to Help Fill the Summer Meal Gap

WASHINGTON, April 12 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called on communities across the country to partner with USDA's summer meals program to ensure that no child goes hungry when school is out. Vilsack reiterated the vital role of partners in reaching eligible children and their families and challenged them to help USDA serve 5 million more meals this summer.

To reach eligible children, USDA is providing intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of the program in five states with high levels of rural or urban food insecurity or historically low program participation rates, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Arkansas, Colorado and Virginia are also states targeted by USDA's StrikeForce, an initiative designed to improve the quality of life and boost economic growth in high-poverty rural areas. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


SARE's New Collection of How-To Resources

With consumer interest in locally raised foods steadily growing, vegetable farmers are discovering they can add an important income stream through high tunnels—a cost-effective means to extend production and sales into the traditional off season. In-depth information about high tunnels is available in SARE's new Season Extension Topic Room, a one-stop collection of dozens of guidebooks, curricula, webinars, bulletins, and other how-to materials to help farmers, educators, and researchers across the country implement effective season extension strategies. Information products in the Season Extension Topic Room derive from SARE-funded research and education projects, and are organized according to key topic areas: Overview; Types and Construction; Variety Trials and Selection; Fertility Management; Pest Management; Water Management; Energy; and Marketing and Economics. The Season Extension Topic Room will be updated with new resources as they become available. SARE is funded by NIFA.


2013 National SBIR Conference

The 2013 National Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Conference will be held at the DC-area Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor on May 13–16. This event is structured to cater to everyone from the SBIR beginner to the veteran firm. SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are the largest source of federal funding for small, high-tech firms and boast an annual budget of more than $2.4 billion. This year’s conference includes a variety of exciting opportunities for discussions with government SBIR and STTR agencies, 28 panel presentations on a variety of topics from proposal submission to successful program execution, agency booths, and open roundtable discussions. Visit the official National SBIR Conference website for online registration and program information.


Chen Named Certified Food Scientists

Hongda Chen, NIFA national program leader for bioprocessing engineering/nanotechnology in the Division of Food Safety, has become one of the inaugural class of Certified Food Scientists (CFS) issued by the International Food Science Certification Commission. Through the one-time alternative assessment, Chen has demonstrated his practical knowledge and commitment to lifelong learning. His lifetime professional accomplishments and attainment of the CFS will serve as an excellent example for future generations of food scientists. Certified Food Scientists will undoubtedly help raise the visibility and recognition of the food science profession. 

The next NIFA issue is planned for May 8, 2013. Submit news items to: by May 1. 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: 4/10/2013