NIFA Update Jan. 24

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                      Jan. 24, 2018

Making a Difference

Rebeca Gonzalez says she can now afford to buy pomegranates for her family in Garden Grove, Calif.,

Mas Fresco! A Food Stamp Program That Makes Fresh Affordable

According to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, 12.3 percent of households were food insecure in 2016. Participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spend less on nutritious fruits and vegetables. Mas Fresco, a program launched through the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), offers monthly credits of $10, $20, or $40 to SNAP recipients to be redeemed for fresh produce. The researchers varied the reward amounts and assigned them randomly to participants to help determine the optimal dollar level that changes people's dietary habits.

"We know food insecurity and, unfortunately, chronic disease go hand in hand," says Joe Prickitt, a UCSD dietitian who is also senior director of Más Fresco. "For SNAP participants, there's a real cost barrier to buying fruits and vegetables. They say they're just too expensive." The goal of the four-year program is to improve diets and overall health by making fresh produce more affordable. Recently, Más Fresco, which means More Fresh in English, enrolled 2,000 people, who will receive the incentive for one year. The current participants will continue in the program through June. Read the full National Public Radio story

Photo: Rebeca Gonzalez says she can now afford to buy pomegranates for her family in Garden Grove, Calif., because of the extra money she receives through Más Fresco, a food stamp incentive program for purchasing produce. Photo courtesy of Courtney Perkes 


Michelle Colby

NIFA Welcomes New National Program Leader for Animal Biosecurity

Michelle Colby joins NIFA's Institute of Food Production and Sustainability’s Division of Animal Systems as a national program leader for animal biosecurity. She will provide implementation, management, engagement and administration for animal biosecurity programs including the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, One Health and Dual Use Research of Concern. Prior to joining NIFA, Colby served as the Branch Chief for Agricultural Defense in the Chemical and Biological Defense Division of Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. 

Colby completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Maryland campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM), as well as a M.S. in Epidemiology and a three-year applied veterinary epidemiology residency program. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from VMRCVM and a B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. 

Sharon Doty Power of Plant Partnerships

The Power of Plant Partnerships  Adventures in Genomics

Our daily activities can take a heavy toll on our environment. Dr. Sharon Doty, from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington, hopes to use plant-microbe partnerships to revolutionize the fields of agriculture, forestry, and bioenergy by making them more environmentally and economically sustainable. Watch “The Power of Plant Partnerships” video.

Dr. Doty’s work was supported by funding from NIFA and the Byron and Alice Lockwood Foundation.

News for You

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship logo

Learn about U.S. Student Study Abroad Resources

NIFA’s Center for International Programs invites you to join a free webinar to learn about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and other U.S. Department of State scholarships and resources to help students study abroad.

The webinar addresses:

  • The value to undergraduate students’ studies, careers, and personal development;
  • Benefits to participants working in the fields of agriculture, food sciences, and natural resources; and
  • Funding and other resources available to students with financial need.

Join the webinar, Thursday, Jan. 25, from 1-2 p.m. (EST)

This webinar will be recorded for replay, available approximately ten days after the event, by visiting the NIFA website or the U.S. Department of State study abroad website.

ARMS Data image

Measuring Rural Prosperity

In December, the National Agricultural Statistics Service launched the Census of Agriculture, which counts all American producers across the country – about 3 million currently – every five years. Almost 35,000 of those producers instead received the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), which looks at the financial health of America’s farm sector.

A producer who completes the ARMS survey is exempt from having to fill out the Census of Agriculture. ARMS asks many of the questions the Census does as well as more detailed financial questions. Results of ARMS helps evaluate the financial effects of numerous USDA programs and others. Results also look at farm income, conservation practices, and adoption of new farm technologies. Read the full USDA article

RFA Grant and Award Announcements

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Announces Support for Biomass Genomics Research

NIFA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research, announce joint support for research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy. NIFA’s support is funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which aims to address challenges in food and agricultural sciences through research, extension, and education.

The Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program aims to improve use of biomass and plant feed stocks for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks. Research to overcome biological barriers, like resistance and tolerance to disease and weather, to the low-cost, high-quality, scalable, and sustainable production of dedicated bioenergy biomass feedstocks using the tools of genetics and genomics is encouraged. Read the full request for application announcement