NIFA Update July 11

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           July 11, 2018

Making a Difference

USDA Farmers Market image

Building Farmers Market Manager Skills

Sources of healthy, local produce are important to many community members, especially for those in urban areas and food deserts. Area farmers also need options to market and sell their produce, meats, or other goods. Farmers markets bring together vendors and consumers. Yet, markets need to be properly managed to comply with food safety guidelines, sustain business, and successfully serve the community. Farmers markets will fail without proper training and knowledge of new opportunities or challenges. Purdue Extension provides professional development training for market managers to offer valuable skill-building education and information to increase market efficacy. Read the full Land-Grant Impact article

USDA NIFA identifier

NIFA Career Opportunity

NIFA is currently recruiting for the position of Deputy Director of the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. This is a critical leadership position for NIFA and a permanent career SES position. The position is currently posted on USA Jobs and the NIFA website under Careers. The job announcement number is AG-22-2018-0064. All applications must be received by August 9, 2018.

News for You

Brenda Schnell, Alliance NRCS Field Office secretary, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and USDA Pathways intern, Luther Thompson II

Future Soil Conservationist Unearths Valuable Skills at USDA

As an aspiring soil conservationist, Luther Thompson II is eager to dig into future career opportunities. Thompson is a rising senior at Alcorn State University, a historically black land-grant university in Lorman, Mississippi. This is his fourth summer as an intern with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS helps America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. Read the USDA blog.

From L-R: Brenda Schnell, Alliance NRCS Field Office secretary, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and USDA Pathways intern, Luther Thompson II at Ackerman Ag Service and Supply, in Alliance, Nebraska., (May 17, 2018). Photo credit: Lance Cheung

YEP32 Youth Entrepreneurs

Youth Entrepreneurship Leads to Stronger Texas Economies

Concerns about small business access to capital are a significant reality for new entrepreneurs. According to the Congressional Research Service reports, small businesses are behind the curve accessing the capital investment needed to start or expand their operations that lead to job creation and improved economies in the local regions. Federal funding through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has been allocated to assist entrepreneurs meeting specific qualifications and focused on rural Texas communities, particularly low-income, underserved communities, and veterans starting a small business. Read the full Prairie View A&M University article.

Summer Foods image by Jez Timms unsplash

Summer Food Rocks

The Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals even when school is not in session. This summer, the United States Department of Agriculture plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children under the age of 18 at approved sites. Learn where you can find a 2018 Summer Meal site with the Food and Nutrition Service. 

Award Notifications

NIFA Invests $5 Million to Improve Food Quality

NIFA recently awarded 16 Improving Food Quality grants designed to improve our knowledge and understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of foods and food ingredients. Our better understanding of the impact of foods and food ingredients in our diet and on the gut microbiome will help human health and well-being. These awards focus on functionality of bio-actives in the gut, physiochemical properties of protein, satiety, saltiness, digestibility and an array of quality aspects of food including shelf life and organoleptic properties. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $7 Million to Improve Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production

NIFA recently awarded 22 Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production grants that will advance development of publicly available cultivars bred to improve the production efficiency, yield, sustainability, resilience, healthfulness, product quality, and value of U.S. agricultural plants while increasing farmer profitability and exports. The awards include both classical and genomics-enabled plant breeding research focused on pre-breeding and germplasm enhancement, cultivar development, selection theory, and applied genetics. Further, NIFA and the National Peanut Board will co-fund three of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages these types of public-private research partnerships. More information about NIFA’s commodity boards program is available on the NIFA website. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $5.1 Million to Improve Agriculture Production Systems

NIFA recently awarded 14 Agricultural Production Systems Research grants that will lead to the development of innovative sustainable solutions to problems limiting or threatening the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of agricultural production systems. The research will help address critical or process-limiting dynamics that occur among and within the various management components of these systems. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $4.9 Million in Bioprocessing and Bioengineering Research

NIFA recently awarded 11 Bioprocessing and Bioengineering grants that will create economic and trade opportunities for the U.S. bioeconomy. The projects will work toward this end by:

  • Creating production efficiency and capacity of biomass, biofuels, feedstock, bioenergy, and bio-based products;
  • Advancing and expanding the utilization of waste and byproducts generated in agricultural and food systems;
  • Engineering new or improved products and processes that make use of materials from agricultural origin (such as bioplastics and biocomposites);
  • Refining the long-term sustainability of agricultural and forestry processing systems that balance productivity along with economic, environmental, and social outcomes.

Bioconversion of wastes for production of commercially viable products such as biogas for electricity; byproducts for organic fertilizer and high value compounds such as lycopene, and biodegradable bioplastics are some of the ultimate goals of the federal investment. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $5.6 Million in Biomass Feedstock Genetic Development and Evaluation

NIFA recently awarded six Biomass Feedstock Genetic Development and Evaluation grants that support long-term genetic development and performance evaluation of biomass feedstock crops. Inexpensive, disease and pest resistant cultivars are necessary to feed the growing demand for biobased products in the emerging bioeconomy, which can create American economic opportunity and jobs, especially in rural areas. These woody and herbaceous crops, such as poplar and perennial grasses, may be converted to biofuels, industrial chemicals and high value biobased products. Marginal land, which does not compete with existing food and fiber crops, have great potential to support these perennial crops. Further, perennial and cover crops may enhance and intensify certain existing agricultural systems. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $5 Million in Lignin or Nano-cellulosic Co-products from Biomass Feedstocks Research

NIFA recently awarded ten co-product related grants that will advance development of high-value biobased co-products that will bolster the economic viability of regional biorefineries and bioenergy systems. These awards will help create value-added products from lignin or nano-cellulosic technologies. The intended outcome is to foster commercialization of agriculture- and forestry-based bioproducts from regionally-appropriate feedstocks that can provide consumers with safer, more cost effective, and environmentally preferable purchasing options. Biobased products can include a wide array of chemicals, lubricants, films, and industrial polymers, among other uses. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $15.4 Million in Sustainable Agroecosystems: Functions, Processes and Management

NIFA recently awarded 35 Sustainable Agroecosytems grants that will improve the sustainable management of agro-ecosystems (agricultural, forest and range) while maintaining or improving the supporting natural resources and ecosystem services. The funded research will improve our understanding of the interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes that determine the health and quality of soil, water and air resources, and how these respond to natural and human based changes and management. Other research will provide science-based information that integrates the complex interactions between natural processes and management practices, and that is needed to make decisions to support agricultural production, including bioenergy and biobased product feedstocks, maintain or improve ecosystem services, and avoid critical thresholds of irreversible damage or loss to our natural resource base. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).