NIFA Update, Nov. 22, 2017

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Editors: Kelly Sprute and Judy Rude                                                             Nov. 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Message

sonny ramaswamy

As you gather with family and friends to partake of the wonderful, bountiful food that we have, remember that it's the result of our amazing farmers and livestock producers. In America, unlike any other place on Earth, we have this incredible innovation engine -- the discoveries that you make, the knowledge that is translated and delivered to end-users, and the education that is delivered across the country by our land-grant partners. We, at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, have the privilege of supporting you and your efforts. Thank you, and I wish you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. 

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Watch Sonny's video.


NIFA Listens

NIFA Listening Sessions

The NIFA Listening Sessions are over but you still have until Dec. 1 to send us your comments. Don’t forget to use the stakeholder input forms to send them. You can also listen to the webcasts or read the transcripts from the in-person Listening Sessions on our website. If you have any questions please contact us at:

Thank you for your participation! 

Sonny II

Director Receives Food Systems Leadership Award

Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA Director, received the Food Systems Leadership Award by the Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), during the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' (APLU) annual meeting, Nov. 12. FSLI is an APLU program, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Food Systems Leadership Award annually recognizes a leader who has made an extraordinary impact on the food system through leadership and service, and who exemplifies the core principles established by FSLI, including leadership, innovation, engagement and service. North Carolina State University is the primary host institution, responsible for program implementation and hosting FSLI scholars during one of their three onsite residential sessions. The Ohio State University and University of Vermont are also partners in the FSLI, providing their expertise in leadership and food systems to the FSLI curriculum and hosting onsite residential sessions for FSLI participants.

Turkey Pardon

National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning Ceremony

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkeys in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. This year, the President celebrated the 70th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, as he talked about our nation’s rich Thanksgiving traditions and wishes American families a safe and healthy holiday.

Both birds were raised in Western Minnesota under the supervision of the National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife Sharlene, along with five young women from the Douglas County 4-H chapter.

After the pardoning, the turkeys will join last year’s turkeys at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit, where students and veterinarians care for the turkeys, and the public can visit and learn about the university’s teaching, research, and outreach programs in animal and poultry sciences and veterinary medicine.

Photo Caption: The 4-H "Talking Turkey" team above: left to right: Kerryn Lund, Christina Kuismi, Kayla Egenes, Katie Kent, and Kodi Bundermann Credit: University of Minnesota

Erin Riley

New Tribal Program Leader

Erin Riley joins NIFA as the national program leader for tribal programs. She will provide program management and oversight on 1994 Research, Education Equity, Extension Capacity and Special Emphasis, 1994 Institutions Endowment Fund and the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Grant Program. Prior to joining NIFA, she worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a Rangeland Management Specialist and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute as an Instructor of Natural Resources.

She has a master’s degree in range management, and one in molecular biology and botany from Montana State University, and an undergraduate degree in Forest Science from the University of Illinois. She has a 17 year old son, who will be an Eagle Scout this January, two dogs, and a horse named Asher. She can be reached at 202-690-0402 and by email.

Diabetes Blog

NIFA Programs Helping to Combat America’s Growing Diabetes Crisis 

by Hope Marshall, NIFA

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, yet many are not aware that they have the deadly disease—or that it may be stalking them.

Worldwide, about 366 million people (about 5.2 percent) have diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the situation is even worse in this country: About 9.3 percent (29 million people) have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reported that in 2015 diabetes was the underlying cause on nearly 80,000 death certificates, and a contributing cause on over 172,000 others. Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is a leader in the global fight against diabetes, with research and consumer education projects spanning all 50 states and U.S. territories. Read the full Blog story.

Photo Caption: Oklahoma State University students Olivia Hawkins, left, and Lei Wu work on a project to study the health benefits of whole eggs in improving insulin resistance and lowering blood glucose in type 2 diabetes. (Photo courtesy of Dingbo Daniel Lin)

New NIFA Web Pages

  • Leading Large Transdisciplinary Projects: Insights from the Authors -- The videos present lessons learned and provide key advice for people writing proposals for transdisciplinary projects. The authors of the Leading Large Transdisciplinary Projects Addressing Social-Ecological Systems primer provide insights on developing, managing, and completing large social-ecological systems projects.

  • Food Safety Education and Extension Materials -- This is a "One Stop Shop" for food safety education and extension materials. The page is constantly evolving as we add resources that are shared with us. NIFA has funded numerous food safety education and extension resources, including fact sheets, webinars, and curricula. Some materials have been produced in cooperation with the Food Safety Extension Service in various universities.

4-H National Youth Science Day RFPs 

4-H National Youth Science Day, which started as an initiative to introduce 4-H Science to clubs across the country has grown into the single-largest STEM experience delivered at scale to 4-H’ers and non 4-H’ers alike. 

4-H National Headquarters at NIFA and National 4-H Council invite Cooperative Extension faculty and staff at all land-grant universities to submit a proposal detailing an innovative experience for youth to conduct during the 2018 4-H National Youth Science Day. The land-grant university that submits the winning application will receive a $50,000 award. The 2018 subject area focus is "computer science."

To apply. Proposals are due December 4, 2017. In order for 4-H NYSD to continue to grow and reach new audiences, National 4-H Council is taking steps to enhance and streamline the science experience development process. 

Aag Census

Grant Announcements

Methyl Bromide Transition Program

The methyl bromide transition program (MBT) addresses the immediate needs and the costs of transition that have resulted from the scheduled phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has been a pest and disease control tactic critical to pest management systems for decades for soilborne and postharvest pests. The program focuses on integrated commercial-scale research on methyl bromide alternatives and associated extension activity that will foster the adoption of these solutions. Projects should cover a broad range of new methodologies, technologies, systems, and strategies for controlling economically important pests for which methyl bromide has been the only effective pest control option. Research projects must address commodities with critical issues and include a focused economic analysis of the cost of implementing the transition on a commercial scale.

Request for Applications
Apply for Grant

Closing Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NIFA-ICGP-006409
Estimated Total Program Funding: $1,800,000

USDA/NIFA Invests in Programs to Increase Crop Productivity, Profitability, and Stewardship of Three Crops

NIFA announced support for research to increase the productivity, profitability, and natural resources stewardship of canola, potato, and alfalfa production systems. The grants are funded through three NIFA programs: Alfalfa and Forage Research, Supplemental and Alternative Crops, and Potato Breeding Research.