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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update–November 27, 2013

NIFA Update — November 27, 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.



  • White House Releases New Farm Bill Report
  • NIFA Welcomes New Director of Policy and Oversight
  • USDA Funds Research to Improve Plant Production and Health
  • USDA Announces Projects Using Local Food to Address Hunger and Increase Access to Healthy Food
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • ARS Seeks Candidates for Administrator
  • Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden Announces Members for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Committee
  • Fact Sheet: Strengthening New Market Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems
  • Obama Administration's to Help Communities Prepare for Drought


  • Montana AES Announces Interim Dean/Director
  • AgrAbility Brings Services to Agricultural Workers with Disabilities and Farmer Veterans
  • Spanish Needle Plant Publication Funded by NIFA Grants Program
  • DOD, USDA Partner to Help Support Military Families with Life Issues


  • Knox Receives UAPB Recognition

  • Next issue of NIFA Update is December 18


White House Releases New Farm Bill Report

A report jointly prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the White House National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Council of Economic Advisers, and Office of Management and Budget was released. The report highlights the economic benefits for the domestic agriculture sector—its workforce, rural American communities, and families and businesses—that make it imperative to passing a comprehensive Food, Farm, and Jobs bill as soon as possible. The report is available on the White House website.

NIFA Welcomes New Director of Policy and Oversight

Maria Koszalka is the new director of the Policy and Oversight Division in NIFA’s Office of Grants and Financial Management. She will join NIFA on December 2.

Koszalka comes to NIFA from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services, where she has been a grants policy officer with the Division of Grants Policy in the Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration.  While at NIH, she advanced effective stewardship of federal grants in support of research through policy development and management of complex analytical initiatives related to grants and cooperative agreements. Koszalka served as a program analyst in the Division of Grants Policy and the Office Financial Assistance Management with the Health Resources and Services Administration. She also served as a senior consultant for the Northrop Grumman Corporation; was as a core member of the International Research Collaborations Working Group for the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable; served as a senior program officer with the Office of Grants and Special Programs for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, managing all aspects of a $700 million national science grants program. As a researcher in breast cancer at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, she has several peer-reviewed publications and helped her group successfully obtain grant funding.  She has B.S. and M.S. degrees in biological science from Wayne State University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. Koszalka will be located in the Waterfront Centre in Room 2304 and reached at 202-401-4325.

USDA Funds Research to Improve Plant Production and Health

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 – NIFA announced nearly $9 million in grants for research into issues affecting plant breeding and production, leading to improvements in plants that are critical to the sustainability and competitive agriculture.

“As plants play a vital role in the success of the national and global economy, it is crucial we study plant breeding and genomics and innovative approaches to plant improvement and protection,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “The knowledge gained from the work funded today will allow us to successfully face challenges in food security, bioenergy, climate change and increasing global competition.”

The awards were made under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program priority area of plant breeding for agricultural production. The funded projects focus on classical breeding to include cultivar development, prebreeding and germplasm enhancement, related–species introgression and novel approaches to phenotyping, among other areas. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Projects Using Local Food to Address Hunger and Increase Access to Healthy Food

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the NIFA Community Food Project awards. These awards support organizations using local food to develop community-based solutions to address food insecurity and increase access to healthy food in low income communities.

“The Community Food Projects program has demonstrated that local food can be part of a successful strategy to address hunger and increase healthy food access,” said Vilsack. “This year’s grantees continue that tradition while representing exciting innovations and ideas. I look forward to seeing how their work will support our country’s farmers, expand local food opportunities, and increase healthy food access for generations to come.”

Vilsack noted that the future of this program is connected to the current debate over a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. “Community Food Projects are a perfect example of how America’s farmers and communities rely on Farm Bill programs to meet new markets, increase economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers, and address hunger.” 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 for more information.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden Announces Members for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Committee

NEWARK, Del., Nov. 21 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced the appointment of 20 members to serve on the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers during a trip to the University of Delaware. The committee will provide guidance to the Secretary on expanding opportunities that will help beginning farmers and ranchers succeed in agriculture. Individuals have been asked to serve on the committee through September 2015. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Fact Sheet: Strengthening New Market Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Farmer Veteran Coalition Executive Director Michael O'Gorman and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer to highlight the rapid growth of local and regional marketing opportunities in American agriculture. Local and regional markets provide new opportunities in agriculture and expand the availability of fresh, local foods for all Americans. Local and regional markets also provide a unique opportunity to help America's returned service members get started in agriculture and keep growing. More than four million veterans call rural America home—more than 11 percent of the rural population—and agriculture holds a promising new career for many.

USDA is focused on expanding opportunities for new and beginning producers across the nation, as well as creating new opportunities for existing farmers and ranchers. Secretary Vilsack has identified these new opportunities as one priority to help revitalize the rural economy and create jobs. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Obama Administration to Help Communities Prepare for Drought

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 – As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration announced an interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy. The National Drought Resilience Partnership will make it easier to access federal drought resources and will help link information such as monitoring, forecasts, outlooks, and early warnings with longer-term drought resilience strategies in critical sectors such as agriculture, municipal water systems, energy, recreation, tourism, and manufacturing.

In its first year, the partnership will focus on creating a new, web-based portal to ease access to federal agency drought recovery resources, hosting more frequent regional drought outlook forums that provide access to experts and locally relevant information, supporting the coordination of a national soil moisture monitoring network to help improve monitoring and forecasting drought conditions, and identifying a single point of contact for the public. In collaboration with local, state, and regional governments, the partnership will also undertake a pilot project in a western area hard hit by drought to create a local-scale drought resilience plan that could be applied in other areas. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


Montana AES Announces Interim Dean/Director

Dr. Glenn Duff is serving as interim dean and director of Montana Agricultural Experiment Station until a national search for this position can be completed. Duff’s contact information is as follows:  Montana Agricultural Experiment Station, Montana State University, 202 Linfield Hall, Bozeman, MT 59714-2860; Telephone, 406-994-3681; Email,

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 in which they are accustomed, resulting in reduced productivity and increased chance of secondary injury. NIFA’s 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 nonprofit disability service organizations.  These projects 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 of services and resources. NAPs support SRAPs in developing their capacity to meet these objectives.

In FY 2013, NIFA awarded close to $4 million 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 its capacity to better serve veterans with disabilities who are currently engaged in—or are pursuing—agricultural production-related employment, and to help 1890 land-grant institutions achieve the AgrAbility Program mission.

Spanish Needle Plant Publication Funded by NIFA Grants Program

A recently published booklet and series, Ethnopharmcognosy Series IV: Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Values of Spanish Needle – Plant-Based Products and Recipes, is now available at the Windward Community College (WCC) bookstore. For student, classroom, and experiential outdoor learning, the series is funded through the NIFA Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program (ANNH). 
Facilitated by the ANNH Project Director Dr. Ingelia White, her students in Botany 205 and Botany 299 courses learn the medicinal and nutritional values of the Spanish needle plant.  Medicinal values include prevention of ulcers, diabetes, skin disorders, colds, and other ailments.  Spanish needle also inhibits oral pathogens. The students developed a chewing gum and tooth cleaning powder to control the pathogens orally. A Spanish needle recipe by a student won the Spanish Needle Food Pharmacy Competition. The publication provides the experimental protocol, associated data, medicinal products, and healing food recipes for Spanish needle. Proceeds from booklet sales will be used for student internship and travel to attend and present research at national and international scientific conferences. 

DOD, USDA Partner to Support Military Families with Life Issues

November is Military Family Month and in conjunction, DoDLive published a blog post that features the Extension Military Partnership. Barbara Thompson, director of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Family Policy, Children, and Youth, provides the perspective. The extension-military relationship started in May 2010 when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the organizations allocating DOD funding that supports this important partnership. DOD and USDA are leveraging each other’s expertise to supplement their own programs. USDA gains valuable insight and information about the needs of military families that participate in their programs.


Knox Receives UAPB Recognition

Paularie N. Knox, NIFA policy specialist for the Office of Grants and Financial Management, was recently highlighted in the fall 2013 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) PRIDE magazine. UAPB is a renowned 1890 Land-Grant University with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings, and stellar faculty that spans more than 140 years. Knox was chosen for this recognition by Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander and UAPB PRIDE publication staff for her professional achievement, and was featured in the Impacting Their Industry–Agriculture section of PRIDE Magazine. She also received recognition within the Alumni Spotlight of the fall 2013 version of the UAPB, School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences Highlights Newsletter. 


The next NIFA issue is planned for December 18, 2013. Submit news items to: by November 13. 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: 11/27/2013