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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update–November 18, 2013

NIFA Update — November 18, 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 Welcomes Participant in New Leadership Program
  • NIFA Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program
  • USDA Loan Repayment Awards Ensure Access to Veterinary Services in Rural Communities
  • USDA Invests in Research to Convert Beetle-Killed Trees into Renewable Energy
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • ARS Seeks Candidates for Administrator
  • Secretary Vilsack Announces Projects to Improve Farm and Rural Business Energy
  • APHIS Finalizes Bovine Import Regulations in Line with International Animal Health Standards


  • NIFA Partnership Awards
  • APLU/NIFA Awards and 2013 Hatch Lectureship


  • Jensen Receives Certificate of Appreciation

  • Next issue of NIFA Update is November 27, 2013


NIFA Welcomes Participant in New Leadership Program

Dr. Judy Chen  is working with the Plant Protection Division of the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability.  She joins NIFA for 2 months as part of her participation in the Graduate School’s Executive Potential Program, a 1-year leadership development program.  Chen has expertise in entomology, plant pathology, molecular biology, and statistics. She has worked as an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research entomologist at the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD, since 2002. She has also held positions at the University of Maryland Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, and the ARS Insect Biocontrol Laboratory. She earned a B.A. in entomology and plant pathology from Hunan Agriculture University (China), an M.S. in entomology from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in entomology from Texas A&M University.  She is located in room 3321 of the Waterfront Centre and can be reached at 202-401-4961.

NIFA Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

The NIFA Rural Health Safety Education grants focus on issues related to children, youth, and adults’ health and safety education in the following areas: health education programs, rural environmental issues, health promotion and educational activities, and training for volunteers and health service providers. In FY 2013, about $1.3 million was available for support. The following proposals were awarded:  Connections to Life, University of Fairbanks; Staying Healthy in Alabama: Promoting Health Literacy Among Rural English-Language Learners, Auburn University; Growing Stronger: Nutrition and Physical Activity for Rural Pennsylvanians, The Pennsylvania State University; Building Capacity for Community Health Promotion, Sitting Bull College, ND; University of Arkansas Extension Wellness Ambassador Program Pilot, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service; Nourishing Boomers and Beyond: Improving the Health Behaviors of Adults Living in Rural North Dakota, North Dakota State University; Optimizing Children’s Mental Health Rural Positive Behavior Support Project: A Public Health Approach, Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Visit the NIFA Grants for more information.

AgrAbility Brings Services to Agricultural Workers with Disabilities and Farmer Veterans

Farmers and ranchers with severe illnesses or disabilities are often unable to continue to work in a manner they are accustomed to, resulting in reduced productivity and increased chance of secondary injury. The NIFA AgrAbility program seeks to enhance quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities by providing funding for two project types—State and Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAP) and the National AgrAbility Project (NAP).  SRAPs (funded for up to 4 years) are cooperative projects in which State Cooperative Extension Services at 1862 and 1890 land-grant institutions collaborate with non-profit disability service organizations.  SRAPs build capacity on regional and state levels to meet the needs of agricultural workers with disabilities through education, information on assistive technology solutions, networking, direct assistance, and marketing services and resources. The primary NAP function is to help SRAPs develop their objectives. 

NIFA awarded close to $4 million in FY 2013 to support 17 SRAPs eligible for continuation; 3 new SRAPs at the University of Tennessee, The Ohio State University, and The Pennsylvania State University; and the existing NAP at Purdue University. The AgrAbility program also provided NAP with additional, 1-year infusion of funds to enhance NAP’s capacity to better serve veterans with disabilities who are currently engaged in or pursuing agricultural production-related employment. These programs also help increase the participation of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers affected by disability in 1890 land-grant institutions AgrAbility programs.

USDA Loan Repayment Awards Ensure Access to Veterinary Services in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded more than $4 million to 46 American veterinarians to help repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for serving areas lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The awards, made through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, will fill shortage needs in 18 states.

“Rural America is facing a few problems when it comes to receiving veterinary services. Many animal producers face a critical shortage of veterinarians. And many veterinarians, who have accumulated high student debt amounts, choose to work in locations that offer higher pay than rural America,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “This program is designed to give assistance to veterinarians—many of whom want to serve in rural America—so they can fill these shortages and help improve the health of livestock and ensure a safe food supply.” Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Invests in Research to Convert Beetle-Killed Trees into Renewable Energy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 – USDA announced it has awarded nearly $10 million to a consortium of academic, industry, and government organizations led by Colorado State University and their partners to research using insect-killed trees in the Rockies as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy. The award, provided under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), is part of USDA’s effort to develop modern solutions for climate challenges in agriculture and natural resource management. AFRI is provided under the Farm Bill, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the need for passage of a comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill to continue groundbreaking agricultural research across the nation.

NIFA provides funding for this research under AFRI—a 2008 Farm Bill program. As a NIFA Coordinated Agricultural Project, this grant brings together teams of researchers that represent various geographic areas to support discovery and applications and promotes communication that leads to innovative, science-based solutions to critical and emerging national priorities and needs. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models (EaSM)

December 23, 2013

Nancy Cavallaro

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

January 21, 2014

Daniel Schmoldt

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: NIFA Fellowships Grant Program

February 20, 2014

Ray A. Ali


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.


ARS Seeking Candidates for Administrator

ARS is seeking candidates for its Administrator position. Dr. Edward B. Knipling recently retired after serving as Administrator since 2004. The incumbent is responsible for providing vision, guidance, direction, and national leadership to the agency's programs. The incumbent, in consultation with the USDA Under Secretary of Research, Education, and Economics, establishes and implements policies, plans, and objectives of all ARS programs related to research, cooperative agreements, and technical transfer. The position provides national leadership in ARS in developing, coordinating, and integrating multidisciplinary programs with other federal and state agencies, higher education institutions, private industries, and international entities. Deadline to apply is December 2, 2013. Visit the website for more information.

Secretary Vilsack Announces Projects to Improve Farm and Rural Business Energy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for 424 projects across the nation that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, and use renewable energy technologies in their operations.

Vilsack said that this funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of Farm Bill programs for the economic vitality of rural America, and a compelling reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. A comprehensive new Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

APHIS Finalizes Bovine Import Regulations in Line with International Animal Health Standards

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 – USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a final rule that will complete efforts to modernize the agency's import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), demonstrating to the international community that the United States is committed to basing its BSE regulations on internationally-accepted scientific literature and standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health. The final regulation will allow for the safe trade of bovines and bovine products, while still protecting the United States from the introduction of BSE. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


NIFA Partnership Awards

The 2013 Partnership Awards for exemplary work and outstanding contribution in support of the USDA mission and for their positive impacts on agriculture were presented to the lead institution for each project:

  • Mission Integration of Research, Education, and Extension: Missouri Quality Beef Team, University of Missouri. For outstanding achievement in promoting the improved production of beef through innovative integrated research, education, and extension programs in reproduction, genetics, and beef cattle management.
  • Multistate Efforts: Beef Reproduction Task Force – Iowa State University, Kansas State University, South Dakota State University, University of Florida, University of Idaho, University of Missouri, and University of Nebraska. For providing leadership and consistency in reproductive programming to the U.S. beef industry through cooperative Extension efforts.
  • Innovative Programs and Projects – Biodegradable Mulches for Specialty Crops Produced Under Protective Covers, Washington State University. For promotion of innovative biodegradable mulches for specialty crops produced under protective covers that provide an alternative to costly and environmentally detrimental plastic mulch.
  • Effective and Efficient Use of Resources: Executive Council at the College Of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Sciences, Tennessee State University. For successful restructuring, program integration, and administrative improvements in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences focusing on college enrollment, research output, and Extension impact.


APLU/NIFA Awards and 2013 Hatch Lectureship

For 20 years, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and NIFA have worked together to recognize the extraordinary efforts of a select group of educators, researchers, and Extension specialists. The Excellence in College and University Teaching awards recognize university faculty members for sparking interest in students and producing future graduates. Those honored for their commitment to programs in lifelong learning and important contributions to the improvement of communities are awarded the Excellence in Extension award. The National Extension Diversity Award acknowledges outstanding efforts and accomplishments within Cooperative Extension to achieve and sustain diverse cultures and abilities. Multistate Research Award recipients are recognized for the collaborative efforts of several state Agricultural Experiment Stations working together to address a critical, regional problem. With these awards, NIFA and APLU not only honor recipients who have given of themselves and made outstanding contributions to the improvement of our communities, they also recognize the foresight of establishing an educational, Extension, and research system that encourages the best of all its participants and partners. Read the 2013 A Community of Scholars Honoring Excellence for more information on the 2013 Award Recipients.

National Teaching Awards

  • Tiffany Heng-Moss, professor of entomology, University of Lincoln
  • Michael Eugene Wetzstein, Josiah Meigs professor, agricultural and applied economics, University of Georgia


Regional Teaching Awards

  • John C. “Jack” Clausen, professor, natural resources and the environment, University of Connecticut
  • Janice Jean Haggart, instructor, veterinary and microbiological sciences, North Dakota State University
  • Soo-Yeun Lee, associate professor, food science and human nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Jeffrey W. Savell, Regents, professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder, Holder of the Citron University Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University
  • William J. Silva, professor, animal and food sciences, University of Kentucky
  • Brian Kent Warnick, assistant professor, agricultural technology and education, Utah State University


New Teacher Awards

  • Leslie Dawn Edgar, associate professor, agricultural and extension education, University of Arkansas
  • David W.W. Jones, associate professor, agricultural and extension education, North Carolina State University


National Award for Excellence in Extension

  • Jeffrey T. Edwards, small grains cooperative extension specialist, Warth Distinguished Professor of Agronomy, Oklahoma State University.


Regional Awards for Excellence in Extension

  • 1890 Region – Marion F. Simon, professor and state extension specialist for small farm and part-time farmers, interim chair of the Division of Food and Animal Sciences, Kentucky State University
  • North Central Region -- Kimberly A. Greder, associate professor and family life state program specialist, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University
  • Northeast Region – Elaine Bowen, associate professor, extension specialist, health promotion, West Virginia University Extension Service
  • Southern Region – Denise M. Holston-West, instructor and Smart Bodies Program director, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
  • Western Region – Brian J. Higginbotham, associate vice president and associate director, Utah State University Cooperative Extension


National Extension Diversity Award

  • Susan Given-Seymour, director of outreach and community education, and director of Cooperative Extension, Northwest Indian College Cooperative Extension


National Excellent in Multistate Research Award

  • SERA 5 (IEG-14) Sweetpotato Collaborators Conference


Hatch Memorial Lecturer

At the APLU Annual Meeting, the 2013 William Henry Hatch Memorial Lecturer was Dr. Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College and adjunct professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. He stated in his presentation, Keeping Science out of African Agriculture …”you can see where I’m going here. Without more political and resource commitments from Africa’s own governments, our recently revived international support for farming on the continent will fall short. What Africa’s smallholder farmers need today is the same thing America’s own low-resource family farmers needed from their government 126 years ago: much larger public investments in agricultural research, education, and Extension.  Not to mention rural roads, rural power, and irrigation.”


Jensen Receives Certificate of Appreciation

Dr. Gary Jensen, NIFA national program leader for aquaculture, received a certificate of appreciation from the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the quarterly meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture that Jensen chairs under the National Science and Technology Council. The citation reads, “In recognition of your federal-wide leadership and sustained commitment to aquaculture development in the United States.” He also received the Joseph P. McCraren Award from the National Aquaculture Association “for distinguished lifetime contributions to the aquaculture industry.”

The next NIFA issue is planned for November 27, 2013. Submit news items to: by November 20. 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: 11/01/2013