NIFA Update — October 27, 2010
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.
- Grantsmanship Information on Systems-Based Projects Available on the Web
- USDA Grants Invest in Specialty Crop Research and Extension Activities
- USDA Grants Support Research, Education, and Extension Activities at Tribal Land-Grant Colleges
- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Efforts to Provide Training to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
- NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
- USDA Announces Pilot Initiative to Help Farmers and Ranchers Comply with On-Farm Oil Spill Regulation
- The Biomass Crop Assistance Program – Final Rule Provisions – October 2010
- Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Biofuels as Prepared for Delivery at the National Press Club, October 21.
- USDA Requests Applications for Summer Food Service Program Projects that Increase Food Security for Low-Income Children
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule
- USDA Releases Report on the Impact of the Recovery Act on America’s Rural Communities
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder Announce Settlement Agreement with Native American Farmers
- New Data Highlights Role of Forests in Fight Against Climate Change
- Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program
Awards and Recognition
- Jensen Presents Lecture at Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010
- 4-H Student Honored for Heroic Service Work
Grantsmanship Information on Systems-Based Projects Available on the Web
Visitors can view the September 2010 “Planning and Managing Systems Based Trans-disciplinary Project for USDA/NIFA Programs” archives that cover the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative, and the Organic Transitions Programs. This workshop, along with the 2009 Cornell workshop, emphasizes guidance from people who have written proposals, received awards, conducted the science, and brought their projects to life with real-world applications. Presenters discuss various aspects of successful proposal preparation, building collaborative teams, developing multi-functional projects, and project management. Different topics, examples, and presenters are included each year. Applicants and administrators are encouraged to explore the archives from both sessions.
USDA Grants Invest in Specialty Crop Research and Extension Activities
WASHINGTON, October 25, 2010 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced 28 grants to solve specialty crop agriculture issues through research and extension activities through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
NIFA awarded more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to support the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Funded projects address five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety. SCRI gives priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary; and include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public. Each of the focus areas received at least 10 percent of the available funds. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read USDA Grants Invest in Specialty Crop Research and Education Activities.
USDA Grants Support Research, Education, and Extension Activities at Tribal Land-Grant Colleges
WASHINGTON, October 25, 2010 – NIFA awarded grants to 32 tribal colleges and universities, providing Native American communities with greater access to agricultural research, education, and extension. Tribal land-grant colleges and universities include in their teaching methods components of Native American culture. 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 their 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 USDA Grants Support Research, Education, and Extension Activities at Tribal Land-Grant Colleges.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Efforts to Provide Training to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
LONGMONT, Colo., October 18, 2010 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan awarded grants to 40 organizations throughout the country to provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers that will help them run successful and sustainable farms. Merrigan made the announcement on the Ollin Farm, which has benefited from USDA’s beginning farmer programs.
NIFA awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance, and outreach program designed to help U.S. farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. Under the program, which was established through the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA will make grants to organizations that will implement programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Efforts to Provide Training to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.
NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications
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.
USDA Announces Pilot Initiative to Help Farmers and Ranchers Comply with On-Farm Oil Spill Regulation
PEMBINA, N.D., October 21, 2010 – The Department of Agriculture announced a pilot initiative in eight states to help agricultural producers comply with revised regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intended to prevent and mitigate fuel and oil spills on their operations. States participating in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administered pilot are: Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and the Caribbean area. NRCS will provide up to $3 million in the pilot program to help farmers and ranchers comply with EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program (SPCC). The agency will help develop or update existing spill prevention plans that avoid and mitigate on-farm oil spillage. SPCC plans must be in place no later than November 10, 2011. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Announces Pilot Initiative to Help Farmers and Ranchers Comply with On-Farm Oil Spill Regulation.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program - Final Rule Provisions - October 2010
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), created in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a primary component of the domestic agriculture, energy, and environmental strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce carbon pollution, and spur rural economic development and job creation. BCAP provides incentives to interested farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for the establishment and cultivation of biomass crops for heat, power, bio-based products, and biofuels. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the complete Final Rule Provisions The Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Biofuels as Prepared for Delivery at the National Press Club, October 21.
USDA Requests Applications for Summer Food Service Program Projects that Increase Food Security for Low-Income Children
WASHINGTON, October 20, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack invited states to develop and test alternative methods of providing food for low-income children in urban and rural areas during the summer. USDA is requesting applications to enhance the current Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) by testing and evaluating home delivery and food backpack programs designed to reduce hunger among children when school is out. One of the most important tools that state and federal governments have to address child nutrition when schools have closed is the SFSP, which serves millions of low-income children during summer months. Selected states will be given funds to conduct demonstrations using food backpacks to provide meals for eligible children on days SFSP meals are not available and to develop strategies to deliver meals to eligible children in rural areas at a sustainable cost.
Applications are due December 15 and may be submitted by hand delivery, mail, or electronically using Grants.gov web site. Additional information about the demonstrations and the application materials may also be found on the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service web site. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Requests Applications for Summer Food Service Program Projects that Increase Food Security for Low-Income Children.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule
WASHINGTON, October 20, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation of eight additional biobased product categories that are eligible for federal procurement preference. With the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program’s Round 6 finalization, more than 600 additional biobased products will be offered for preferred purchasing consideration by all federal government agencies and contractors.
The final rule, published in the Federal Register, is part of a series of rules to designate, or approve, biobased items. The new product categories designated under Round 6 include: disposable tableware, expanded polystyrene foam recycling products, heat transfer fluids, ink removers and cleaners, mulch and compost materials, multipurpose lubricants, topical pain relief products, and turbine drip oils. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces BioPreferred Final Rule.
USDA Releases Report on the Impact of the Recovery Act on America’s Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, October 20, 2010 – USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager issued a report on how the agency’s distribution of loan and grant funds provided to the agency through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) has helped the nation’s rural residents. The report estimates that millions of business owners and agricultural producers, Internet users, and thousands of homeowners will benefit and over 300,000 jobs are being created or saved. The job estimates contained in the report are derived from recipient reported data or program-based economic models.
Of the $40.7 billion in Recovery Act funding obligated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development obligated more than half for projects through seven programs. In all, 95,000 loans and 2,500 grants were provided to recipients in all 50 states, American territories, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This record level of federal investment leveraged additional private investment in communities across the country, demonstrating the positive impact that public-private partnerships can have on rural communities and economies. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release USDA Releases Report on the Impact of the Recovery Act on America’s Rural Communities.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder Announce Settlement Agreement with Native American Farmers
WASHINGTON, October 19, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against USDA by Native American
farmers alleging discrimination by USDA. The settlement ends litigation concerning discrimination complaints from Native Americans generally covering the period 1981-1999. "Today’s settlement can never undo wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in past decades, but combined with the actions we at USDA are taking to address such wrongs, the settlement will provide some measure of relief to those alleging discrimination," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration is committed to closing the chapter on an unfortunate civil rights history at USDA and working to ensure our customers and employees are treated justly and equally."
"The settlement will allow USDA and the Native American farmers involved in the lawsuit to move forward and focus on the future," said Attorney General Holder. "Under the process established in this agreement, Native American farmers who believe they suffered discrimination will have their claims heard. The Department of Justice is proud to partner with USDA in the agency’s effort to ensure fair and equitable treatment of its clients." Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder Announce Settlement Agreement with Native American Farmers.
New Data Highlights Role of Forests in Fight Against Climate Change
WASHINGTON, October 15, 2010 – The USDA Forest Service released new estimates of the total carbon storage of U.S. forests, highlighting the important role America’s forests play in the fight against climate change. According to the new data, 41.4 billion metric tons of carbon is currently stored in the nation’s forests, and due to both increases in the total area of forest land and increases in the carbon stored per acre, an additional 192 million metric tons of carbon are sequestered each year. The additional carbon sequestered annually offsets roughly 11 percent of the country’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing almost 135 million passenger vehicles from the nation’s highways. "America’s forests play a critical role in combating climate change, collectively capturing and storing significant amounts of carbon that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Forest management on all lands can contribute significantly toward cooling a warming planet, and this new information will assist the public and policy makers as we work to address this significant issue." Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release New Data Highlights Role of Forests in Fight Against Climate Change.
Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program
NIFA is one of two USDA agencies sponsoring the 2011 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program. The program gives agencies, corporations, and organizations the opportunity to sponsor junior and senior undergraduate agriculture students’ attendance at the annual Outlook Forum, which will take place on February 24–25, 2011, in Crystal City, VA. It is a unique opportunity for students, who represent the diversity of American agriculture, to learn about agribusiness, the latest research, future trends, and policy in contemporary agriculture. In 2007, USDA launched the Diversity Program, which focused on students majoring in agriculture-related programs at land-grant colleges and universities. The program has sponsored a total of 59 undergraduate students to attend the forum. The deadline for submitting student essays and recommendation letters is extended until November 1. Please visit the Student Diversity Program website, or contact Antonio McLaren, at 202-720-5997, for more information.
Jensen Presents Lecture at Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010
Gary L. Jensen, NIFA national program leader for Aquaculture, Division of Animal Systems, was invited by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization to present a plenary lecture on Improving Knowledge, Information, Research, Extension, and Communication on Aquaculture at the Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010 – Farming the Waters for People and Food, held September 22-25 in Phuket, Thailand. This special presentation was an introduction to four panels on related topics with recognized experts from around the world. This global event is convened every 10 years. The 2010 conference attracted 650 attendees from 70 countries.
4-H Student Honored for Heroic Service Work
Sydnie Edwards, from Midpines, CA, was named a Distinguished Finalist by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The Barron Prize honors outstanding young leaders who have made a significant positive difference to people and the planet. Edwards is one of only five students across the United States chosen for this honor, out of nearly 400 applicants.
Edwards created the Emerald Trees Project to reforest the lands around her home, just west of Yosemite National Park, where 34,000 acres were devastated by wildfire in 2008. She negotiated a deal with a local nursery to fund 2,000 Lodgepole Pine saplings and enlisted help from fellow 4-H members, Girl Scouts, school friends, and community members to plant nearly 3,000 trees. Her goal is to plant an additional 3,000 trees. Edwards’ program was adopted as a project of her local 4-H chapter, and is a part of the national 4-H Million Trees Project, which hopes to inspire 4-H youth to plant one million trees as a way to slow climate change.
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Roger Beachy, 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.