Glossary

As a federal agency focused on agricultural sciences, NIFA uses a variety of terms and acronyms throughout the website. We have listed some of the most frequently used terms below.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

  • AA – Agricultural Act of 2014
  • AFRI - Agriculture and Food Research Initiative 
  • Agribusiness – a business that earns revenue from agriculture
  • Agricultural Experiment Stations  (AES) – locations that conduct research to find solutions to problems in food production in ag-related businesses
  • Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 – legislation which provides the Secretary of Agriculture with the necessary authority to streamline and reorganize the Department of Agriculture to achieve greater efficiency, effectiveness, and economies in the organization and management of departmental programs and activities
  • Agroforestry – the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits
  • Animal Breeding – agriculture relating to the care and breeding of domestic animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep, and horses
  • Anniversary Date – For competitive and non-competitive projects, the period of performance is a 12 month period beginning with the start date or anniversary date of the project; annual progress reports for these are due no later than 90 days after the award anniversary date.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance –  bacteria and other microorganisms that develop ways to survive drugs meant to kill or weaken them
  • APHIS - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Aquaculture – the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, including freshwater and marine line, for food and other purposes
  • AREERA – Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998
  • ARS - Agriculture Research Service
  • Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) – a secure, web-based electronic payment and information application that allows federal agencies to administer funds 
  • Authorized Representative (AR) – the President or Chief Executive Officer of the applicant organization or the designated official who has the authority to commit the organization’s resources to the project. For capacity programs, the AR is the Director
  • Award Phase – the  phase which involves making funding decisions and notifying awardees of their selection for a grant

B

  • Bioeconomy – a marketplace based on renewable biomass, bioenergy, and sustainable agricultural crops
  • Bioenergy – renewable energy produced from biomass, which is organic material such as trees, plants (including crops), and waste materials (e.g., wood waste from mills, municipal wastes, manure, landfill gas (LFG), and methane from wastewater treatment facilities)
  • Bio-Based Industrial Product – a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that is composed of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials such as plant, animal, and marine materials
  • Biofuels – fuels produced directly or indirectly from organic material including plant materials and animal waste.
  • Biological Pest Control –  the reduction of pest populations by natural enemies, typically involving an active human role
  • Biomass – biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms
  • Biotechnology – the manipulation of living organisms to be commercially used in pharmaceutical products
  • Biosecurity – practices established to protect all species against harmful biological hazards
  • Body Mass index – the ratio of a person’s height to weight

C

  • Capacity Grant – programs that ensure that the Land-Grant University System and other partners maintain the ability to conduct research and extension activities
  • Carbon Sequestration – the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir
  • Childhood Obesity – when a child is above their normal body weight; conditions are excess body fat
  • Climate Change – long-term changes in the Earth’s climate due to extended periods of weather conditions, precipitation, and wind patterns
  • Competitive Grants – programs that enable NIFA, via a rigorous peer review process, to select the highest quality proposals from a large pool of institutions and organizations
  • Close-Out Award Phase – the phase of the grant lifecycle that involves the submission, review, and approval of all final reports as required by specific program policies and regulations
  • CSFRGA – Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act of 1965

D

  • Data Marts – collections of data targeted to a specific purpose or audience

E

  • Ecosystems – a system of all living things in a given area—plants, animals and organisms—which interact with each other and with non-living surrounding elements, such as weather, soil, climate, and atmosphere
  • Extension – the application of scientific research and knowledge to agricultural practices through education of agricultural workers
  • Extension Systems – a network of organizations that engage in collaborative educational and research efforts in order to address agricultural needs
  • Extramural Research – grants and contracts to outside institutions or schools to help pay for research projects and resources
  • EFNEP - Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

F

  • FACT – Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 
  • Feedstock – raw material put into a process for conservation
  • Feed Efficiency –pounds of product produced per pound of matter consumed, referred to as the feed to gain or gain to feed ratio. Beef, swine, fish, and poultry industries have used feed efficiency as a benchmark for profitability.
  • Federal Financial Report – awardees are required to submit an SF-425, Federal Financial Report annually no later than 90 days after the award anniversary date. The final SF-425 is due no later than 90 days after the termination date of the grant.
  • Food Efficiency – the calories consumed of a certain amount of food divided by weight gain
  • Food Safety – the handling, processing and storage of food in order to prevent foodborne illness
  • Food Security – having viable access to sufficient quantities of nutritious and affordable food
  • FSIS - Food Safety and Inspections Service
  • Fundamental Research – research performed without the thought of a practical end goal or specific applications

G

  • GAO - General Accounting Office
  • Grasslands – large land areas covered with grass typically used for grazing
  • Genetics and Genomics – application of recombinant DNA, DNA sequencing methods, and bioinformatics to sequence, assemble, and analyze the function and structure of genomes
  • GPS Technology – a group of orbiting satellites that transmit precise signals, allowing GPS receivers to calculate and display accurate location, speed, and time information to the user
  • Greenhouse Gases – gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation such as carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons

H

  • Hispanic Serving Institutions – non-profit institutions that have at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent enrollment. There are more than 250 HSIs in the U.S which serve over one million Hispanic students.
  • 1890 Historically Black Universities – institutions established to serve the educational needs of black Americans. Prior to the time of their establishment, blacks were generally denied admission to traditionally white institutions. As a result, HBCUs became the principle means for providing postsecondary education to black Americans.
  • HLB - Huanglongbing
  • Horticulture Plants – the cultivation of edible and non-edible plants
  • Heirloom Crop Varieties – vegetation grown by gardeners and farmers in isolated or ethnic communities

I

  • Integrated Pest Management – an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties
  • Integrated Approach – merger of aspects of different strategies to achieve a solution
  • Invasive Pests and Diseases –species that do not occur naturally in a specific area and whose introduction is likely to cause economic, agricultural, or environmental harm

J

K

L

  • Land-Grant Colleges and Universities – institutions of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890

M

  • Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI) – colleges and universities that provide educational opportunities to those who have historically faced inequality in their access to higher education
  • Multiple Crop Technologies – the practice of growing two or more crops in the same shared space during a single growing season.

N

  • Nano-catalysts – a catalyst — the size of a nanometer — that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly
  • NARETPA – National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977
  • National Challenge Areas – NIFA is committed to identifying and supporting research, education, and extension priorities to six national priority areas
  • National Program Leader (NPL) – the NIFA staff principal responsible for overall program planning, development, evaluation, and management.  NPLs provide agency leadership as national experts in the related science areas.
  • NIFA 2009 Award Face Sheet – a legally binding document that notifies the grantee and others that a grant has been made and documents the obligation of federal funds.
  • Nanometer – a unit of spatial measurement that is 10-9 meter, or one billionth of a meter. It is commonly used in nanotechnology.
  • Nanotechnology – science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers
  • Nanosensors – collects and transmits information about data on the nanoscale, measured in nanometers
  • Natural Resource Economics – seeks to value natural resources to aid in the optimization of the production of goods and services from agricultural lands while protecting the environment
  • Non-competitive grants – grants directed by Congress to support designated institutions for research, education, or extension on topics of importance to a state or region
  • NPDN - National Plant Diagnostic Network

O

  • OIG - Office of Inspector General
  • Organic Agriculture – an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity

P

  • Peer Review Process – Competitive grant applications are reviewed by a panel of peer reviewers convened by NIFA, as applications are subject to peer review as required by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA), and 7 CFR 2.21. Panels are composed of peer scientists, ad hoc reviewers, and other recognized specialists in specific program areas who review applications for compliance with a program’s statutory requirements.
  • Pre-Award Phase – this phase begins with the announcement of funding opportunities for grants and involves the preparation, submission, and review of proposals to those announcements
  • Precision Agriculture – technological advances meant to propel agriculture into the computerized information-based world
  • Project Director – the principal from a NIFA-funded organization, who is responsible for managing a grant project.
  • Photosynthesis – a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy from the Sun into chemical energy that can be later released to fuel the organisms' activities
  • Post-award phase – the post-award phase involves setting up accounts in the financial payment system, and monitoring awardees for compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and submission of required reports
  • PPV - Plum Pox Virus

Q

R

  • Rangelands – large open land areas containing grass, plants and shrubs used for grazing
  • REE - Research, Education and Economics
  • RFA - Request For Applicants
  • Risk Management – the identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks
  • Robotic Systems – the use of robots that work alongside people in American production agriculture

S

  • SARE - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
  • SCRI - Specialty Crop Research Initiative   
  • Sequencing Animal Genomes – a research technique that allows for deciphering the genetic information found in the DNA of living organisms
  • Small Business – defined as being staffed by 500 or fewer employees, small businesses are a key component of a strong economy
  • State Extension – provides federal funding to the system and, through program leadership, helps the system identify and address current issues and problems
  • Small Farms  –  more than 90 percent of farms in the U.S. are classified as small, with a gross cash farm income of $250,000, or less
  • SOD - Sudden Oak Death
  • STEM – the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Sustainable Agriculture – an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long-term satisfy human food and fiber needs

T

  • Technical Report – All awardees are required to submit annual technical progress reports through REEPort. Progress reports must cover only the most recent period of performance and should adequately describe the grant project’s progress toward performance objectives and clearly highlight the major accomplishments achieved during the reporting period. 
  • 1994 Tribal Colleges – enhance educational opportunities for Native Americans by strengthening instructional programs in the food and agricultural sciences

U

  • Unspent or Unobligated Funds – an unobligated balance is the portion of the authorized federal funds not yet obligated by the recipient

V

  • VMLRP – Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program
  • VSGP - Veterinary Services Grant Program

W

  • Watershed –  the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place
  • Workforce Development – building a network of appropriately trained and educated workers

X

Y

Z