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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update–June 17, 2014

NIFA Update — June 17, 2014

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 Partnership Awards
  • Gibson Rosenthal Fellow/NIFA Intern
  • NIFA Food Safety CAP Featured
  • USDA Announces New Farm Bill Funds Available for Research to Fight Citrus Greening
  • USDA Announces Funding for Integrated Pest Management Efforts
  • NIFA Blogs
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


Smith-Lever — Centennial Celebration

  • Centennial Convocation Activities via Videos/Photographs
  • ESP Mu Chapter Sponsors Centennial Webinars



  • Vilsack Announces Farm Bill Funding for Bioenergy Research, Converting to Biomass Fuel Systems
  • USDA Announces Funding Availability for Turning Biomass Material into Energy
  • USDA Announces Funding, Issues Federal Order to Combat PEDv
  • USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers
  • Western SARE Outreach to Pacific Trust Territories
  • FAEIS News
  • Deadline Approaching for Borlaug Award


  • Next issue of NIFA Update is June 25, 2014


NIFA Partnership Awards

NIFA knows there are many outstanding accomplishments that our partners have achieved. To recognize these achievements, the Partnership Awards Program was established in 2007.

NIFA invites all land-grant universities and cooperating institutions and organizations supported by NIFA to submit nominations for the 2014 NIFA Partnership Awards Program. This program recognizes outstanding contributions, aligned with NIFA strategic goals, in support of the USDA mission. Awards for this year will recognize excellence in:

  • Mission Integration of Research, Education, and Extension
  • Multistate Efforts
  • Innovative Programs and Projects
  • Effective and Efficient Use of Resources
  • Program Improvement through Global Engagement


Nominations may be submitted for individuals or teams of up to 20 members. Each institution may submit up to two nominations (combined total across all categories), meaning the entire institution including research, education, and extension functions.

Nominations must be submitted via the NIFA Partnership Awards Nomination Form. All signed nomination forms must be submitted by July 15, 2014, via email using scanned files that have been saved as .pdf or .jpg files to performance@ars.usda.gov according to instructions in the following documents Criteria for Selection and The NIFA Partnership Awards Nomination Form.

Winning nominations will be recognized at the NIFA Day of Appreciation tentatively scheduled for October 16, 2014. NIFA will pay travel expenses for one person from each winning nomination.

Gibson Rosenthal Fellow/NIFA Intern

Tschuna Gibson is a Rosenthal Fellow and intern with the NIFA’s Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment through August 15. Gibson is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service and will work on climate change issues, particularly analyzing the USDA portfolio in relation to the President’s Climate Action Plan and other USDA and International plans in terms of alignment, gaps, and opportunities. She has a particular interest in international leadership opportunities and social justice. She has a BA in philosophy, with a concentration in ethics and public policy, and BA is in international studies, with a concentration in international social justice, both from Virginia Commonwealth University Honors College. Gibson is located at the Waterfront Centre, cubicle 3173 and can be reached on 202-690-5716.

Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Project

A delegation from Afghanistan arrived at NIFA last week to study how the U.S. Cooperative Extension System functions. The 19-person group is here for several weeks as part of the NIFA-managed “Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Project” (AAEP). Following a welcome by NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the Afghan delegation met with several national program leaders (NPL) to learn about NIFA’s role as the federal partner in the extension system. While in the area, the group will visit one of the land-grant institutions implementing AAEP, the University of Maryland at College Park, and a local county extension office. Half of the delegation is currently spending a week with Purdue University; the other half is visiting Washington State University, two other universities that are participating in AAEP. The entire group will be reunited for a final week at the University of California-Davis, the lead institution for AAEP.  While in Davis, the Afghans will outline a plan to further strengthen agricultural extension in their country, incorporating relevant programs and concepts learned while in the United States. The delegation is primarily comprised of agricultural officials from the provincial level and is led by the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock. Begun in 2011, AAEP is now working in 19 provinces in Afghanistan, building Afghans’ capacity to deliver more effective extension services for rural clientele. Contact Mike McGirr, NPL, Center for International Programs, for more information on the AAEP project.

NIFA Food Safety CAP Featured

An article, Food Virology Collaborative: NoroCORE Tackles Foodborne Viruses, was recently published in the June/July 2014, Food Safety magazine. The article describes the Food Virology Collaborative, which was formed in 2011 and funded by NIFA. NoroCORE is a 5-year, $25 million Coordinated Agricultural Projects. It is an integrated project and includes efforts in all three of the traditional land-grant missions: research, extension/outreach, and education. The purpose is to extend basic and applied scientific findings to a broader audience so that NoroCORE results translate to real processes and actions that reduce the burden of virus-associated foodborne disease.

USDA Announces New Farm Bill Funds Available for Research to Fight Citrus Greening

WASHINGTON, June 16 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $25 million in funding for research and Cooperative Extension Service projects to combat huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease. The funding comes from the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA allocated another $6.5 million, for a total of $31.5 million, to several other projects through its Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group (HLB MAC). This announcement provides funding to the Citrus Disease Research and Education Program (CDRE) and is a supplement of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The 2014 Farm Bill also directs an additional $125 million of the USDA SCRI funding toward citrus health research over the next 5 years.

Because there are wide differences in the occurrence and progression of HLB among the states, there are regional as well as national priorities for CDRE. These priorities fall within four categories: 1) priorities that deal with the pathogen; 2) those that deal with the insect vector; 3) those that deal with citrus orchard production systems; and 4) those that deals with non-agricultural citrus tree owners.  Priority will be given to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary and include clearly defined mechanisms to communicate results to producers.  Successful applicants will be expected to engage stakeholders to insure solutions are commercially feasible. Projects should also include an economic analysis of the costs associated with proposed solutions.  A letter of intent to apply is due to NIFA by June 27, 2014. Full applications, to be invited based on relevancy review, are due September 29, 2014. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Funding for Integrated Pest Management Efforts

WASHINGTON, May 28 − The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of more than $16 million in funding to addresses critical integrated pest management (IPM) needs at the state, regional, and national level to ensure food security and effectively respond to other major societal challenges. The funding is part of NIFA’s newly created Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (CPPM). In fiscal year 2014, the CPPM program will competitively award funding to colleges and universities in three program areas: applied research and development, Extension implementation, and regional coordination. Applications for funding are due June 19, 2014.

NIFA Blogs

Royal tell-all: Queen’s affairs dictate hive health  By Scott Elliott, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (May 23, 2014)

For years investigators have been trying to discover the cause of the massive honey bee die-off known as Colony Collapse Disorder. While there are several potential environmental culprits, communication between queen and worker bees may be one possible answer to this serious problem. An international team of researchers led by Penn State University has found that a queen bee’s effectiveness at communicating “availability” to potential mates could be a key factor in the future well-being of the colony.

NIFA Small Business Grant Could Help Quench Thirst Around the World  By Leif Nielson and Isaac Madsen, National Science Foundation Fellows assigned to NIFA (May 27, 2014)

Clean drinking water for the world is a pretty tall order, considering that the United Nations says nearly a billion people currently go without it. But, that’s exactly the vision that Karen Sorber had when she co-founded Micronic Technologies in 2008 as a family business.

Now a Small Business Innovation and Research grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is bringing the company one step closer to making that dream a reality.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM)

June 19, 2014

Herbert Bolton

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention

June 19, 2014

Deirdra Chester

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

June 20, 2014

Thomas “Tom” Bewick

Special Research Grants Program Aquaculture Research

June 23, 2014

Lakshmi Matukumalli

Biodiesel Fuel Education

June 27, 2014

Daniel Cassidy

Critical Agricultural Materials

June 27, 2014

Daniel Cassidy

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP)

July 3, 2014

James P. Dobrowolski

Alfalfa and Forage Research Program

July 7, 2014

Thomas Bewick

Healthy Homes Partnership

July 7, 2014

Beverly Samuel

Sun Grant Program

July 9, 2014

Daniel Cassidy

1890 Facilities Grants Program (Renewals)

July 11, 2014

Edwin Lewis

Renewable Resources Extension Act-National Focus Fund Projects (RREA-NFF)

July 16, 2014

Eric Norland

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Foundational Program: Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE)

August 7, 2014

Martin A. Draper

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Water for Agriculture

August 13, 2014

James P. Dobrowolski

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit: Research in Biomedicine and Agriculture Using Agriculturally Important Domestic Species

September 24, 2014

Mark A. Mirando

Specialty Crop Research Initiative/Citrus Disease Research and Extension (SCRI/CDRE)

September 29, 2014

Thomas Bewick

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundational Program

September 30, 2014

Effie Baldwin

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Foundational Program: Exploratory

September 30, 2014

Michael A. Bowers


NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the Grants.gov 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.


Centennial Convocation Activities via Videos/Photographs

If you were unable to join us for the ECOP Centennial Convocation on May 7-8, key video segments are available for viewing along with still photographs taken during the activities. Watch the impressive state flag parade and hear the keynote speakers talk about where they feel Cooperative Extension will be in the next 100 years.

View the representatives of the Cooperative Extension Service, Delbert Foster, NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy, and the National 4-H Council CEO Jennifer Sirangelo sign the Memorandum of Understanding clarifying each other’s roles and responsibilities as 4-H members witness the historic event.

In a video of President Jimmy Carter, made available by the University of Georgia, he talked about being a 4-H’er, peanut farmer, public servant, and a statesman because of the importance of Cooperative Extension to his family and throughout his life, and how crucial extension will be in the future of feeding the world.

For the Virtual Centennial festivities, eXtension is featuring the Cooperative Extension’s Centennial this month in the online Virtual World Second Life. The celebration includes a Virtual State Fair decorated with a Centennial theme, live musical performances, educational exhibits, live stream of the Centennial Convocation and a fun video recorded entirely on eXtension’s Morrill regions.

ESP Mu Chapter Sponsors Centennial Webinars

In celebration of the Extension Centennial, Mu Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phil is sponsoring monthly webinars to share the successes of Cooperative Extension.  Each month focuses on a new topic.

All webinars can be viewed via Adobe Connect. Upcoming webinars include:


June 18, 3-4 p.m., EDT

Keith Tidball, Cornell University, Extension Disaster Education Network – Implementing EDEN in a State context

July 16 Noon, EDT

Joy Landis, Michigan State University − Extension Integrated Pest Management for diverse audiences and diverse needs

August 13, Noon, EDT

JC Johnson, Command CMSgt. (Ret) USAF National Director, Project Yes, North Carolina State University – Exploring the many levels of Project Yes!

August 26, Noon, EDT

Sekai Turner, 4-H Youth Development Specialist, North Carolina A&T State University – Building Intercultural Trust: Engaging Cherokee youth and families in the 4-H National Mentoring Program

September 17, Noon, EST

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, University of Maryland – Bee Informed Partnership: An AFRI Extension project to improve pollinator health

October 8, Noon, EST

Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA Director – 21st Century Extension

October 15, Noon, EST

Susan Givens-Seymour, Director of Cooperative Extension, Outreach and Community Education, Northwest Indian College – Traditional Foods: Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program and 1994 Extension in Indian Culture

November 12, 1 p.m., EST

Ninfa Peña-Purcell, Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension – Rural Health and Safety Education grant program in the area of diabetes self-management education with Hispanic and African-American populations

December TBD

Chris Watkins, Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University – Urban Extension in New York City


Vilsack Announces Farm Bill Funding for Bioenergy Research, Converting to Biomass Fuel Systems

WASHINGTON, June 13 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $14.5 million in funding for two USDA bioenergy programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA’s Rural Development announced it is accepting applications from companies seeking to offset the costs associated with converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the availability of $2.5 million in grants to enhance national energy security through the development of bio-based transportation fuels, biopower, and new bio-based products.

USDA also announced a valuable aid to those in, or interested in, starting a bio-energy business, the Bioeconomy Tool Shed. The Tool Shed is a portal offering users access to a complement of web-based tools and information, statistical data and other resources related to the sustainable production and conversion of biomass into products and fuel, a process often referred to as the bioeconomy. 

USDA plans to make up to $12 million in payments for eligible biorefineries through RD’s Repowering Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Biorefineries in existence on or before June 18, 2008, are eligible for payments to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power with renewable biomass. Since President Obama took office, USDA has provided $6.9 million to help biorefineries transition from fossil fuels to renewable biomass systems.  Applications, deadlines and details was published in the Federal Register on Monday, June 16. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Funding Availability for Turning Biomass Material into Energy

WASHINGTON, June 9 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands. This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Funding, Issues Federal Order to Combat PEDv

Washington, D.C., June 5 − In response to the significant impact porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and porcine deltacoronavirus are having on U.S. pork producers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $26.2 million in funding to combat these diseases. Additionally, USDA issued a federal order requiring the reporting of new detections of these viruses to its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or state animal health officials. These viruses do not pose any risk to human health or food safety, and they are commonly detected in countries around the world.

APHIS' federal order requires producers, veterinarians, and diagnostic laboratories to report all cases of PEDv and other new swine enteric coronavirus diseases to USDA or state animal health officials. The industry is already seeing herds previously impacted by the virus become re-infected, and routine and standard disease reporting will help identify the magnitude of the disease in the United States and can help determine whether additional actions are needed. For full details of the federal order and program requirements, along with a Q&A on this topic, visit the APHIS website. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON, June 4 − Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that farmers, ranchers, and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) beginning June 9. The Secretary also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program.

CRP provides incentives to producers who use conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as "covers") to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CRP, will coordinate the various CRP program opportunities. For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA county office or go online. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


Western SARE Outreach to Pacific Trust Territories

The Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (Western SARE) recently held a significant conference and outreach effort for the Pacific Trust Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The conference theme, “Strengthening Agriculture’s Infrastructure in the Western Pacific Area” was held in Tumon Bay, Guam. It featured presentations by successful agricultural producers, researchers and educators, agency professionals, agricultural lenders, economic development professionals and business leaders from both the Islands and the mainland. The conference objectives were to share success stories and lessons learned, foster partnerships to improver agricultural infrastructure, and identify potential funding sources and to improve the quality of proposals submitted to SARE and other funding programs. Outreach activities were conducted by Western SARE staff and Administrative Council members participating in the conference. To get the most out of the travel invested to reach Guam, they fanned out in small teams to conduct site visits with SARE grant recipients and agricultural leaders across the widely separated islands. Overall the conference represented a significant investment in staff time, preparation, and travel but as one agricultural leader in Guam said, SARE has been among the most effective funding programs for the islands. This success was built on the two way communications such that the SARE program recognizes the distinct needs and challenges on the individual islands, and the islanders recognize the funding opportunities available through SARE and other federal programs.


The Food and Agricultural Education Information System (FAEIS) Newsletter, May 2014, Issue 27, shows that minority undergraduate enrollment is growing within agriculture. Statistics are shown by charts and graphs, via undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity, type of universities, and ethnicity in the largest academic areas. The Baccalaureates Enrollment in Colleges of Agriculture at Land-Grant and Non-Land-Grant Institutions lists universities broken down by ethnicity. FAEIS is funded by NIFA.


Deadline Approaching for Borlaug Award

The June 30 deadline to submit nominations for the 2014 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application is quickly approaching. This award recognizes exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under 40 who has clearly demonstrated intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty.  The award will be presented at the Borlaug Centennial Year World Food Prize events in October. Please click on this link to learn more and to nominate a deserving individual. Questions may be directed to Judith Pim, Director of Secretariat Operations.

The next NIFA Update issue is planned for June 25, 2014. Submit news items to: newsletter@nifa.usda.gov by June 20, 2014. 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: 05/20/2014