NIFA Update Oct. 10

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                          Oct. 10, 2018

Making a Difference

Kristina Edwards PVA&M student, Image by Prairie View A&M.

Prairie View A&M University Freshman Selected as USDA 1890 National Scholar

Story by Taelor Smith

While living a healthy lifestyle may be a long-term goal for many, College of Agriculture & Human Sciences (CAHS) student Kristina Edwards is putting her plan into action. The Prairie View A&M University freshman is the university’s sole USDA 1890 National Scholar winner.

As a freshman Human Nutrition major with a concentration in Dietetics, Edwards shares that she began this journey of studying nutrition because of her personal desire to make healthier food choices and get in shape. “Before I made this decision, I never thought much about the quality of the food I eat, or how it affected my health and my body,” says Edwards. “Now, I have made changes to my diet, as well as my physical activity, and am looking toward to making these changes permanent.” Edwards plans to do research on the negative effects food can have on the human body. Read the full Prairie View A&M article.


NIFA Flower Identifier graphic

NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide Update

On Oct. 5, 2018, NIFA published a revised version of the NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide on its website. The Policy Guide describes the statutory and regulatory responsibilities of NIFA federal-fund recipients. It is a single document for information formerly provided by a variety of manuals; a single document is much more user-friendly for NIFA staff and grantees. The revisions incorporate changes from the Uniform Guidance, NIFA terms and conditions, NIFA policies and procedures, and stakeholder feedback.

Overall, the Policy Guide provides comprehensive guidance on:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Application and review processes
  • Award notification and administration procedures
  • Award terms and conditions
  • Uniform administrative requirements
  • Allowable costs
  • Reporting requirements
  • Close-out procedures
  • Audit requirements

NIFA published a draft version of the Guide on June 13, 2018 and requested stakeholder feedback by July 30, 2018; the final guide includes changes based on stakeholder feedback. 


The Policy Guide is available to view on the NIFA website.

NIFA Listens graphic

RSVP for NIFA’s In-person Stakeholder Listening Sessions  

NIFA wants to hear from you about priorities and opportunities in agricultural science! There are two ways to share your thoughts and ideas: a series of four in-person listening sessions hosted in different regions across the country, and submission of written comments. You must submit an RSVP no later than Oct. 11 if you wish to attend the next in-person listening session in New Orleans.

Locations and Dates:

Regardless of attendance at in-person events, submissions of written comments will be accepted via the input form through Nov. 30.

To those of you joining us tomorrow at our first listening session in Hartford, we are excited to see you! There are still more opportunities you can sign-up for across the country, if you cannot make it out tomorrow. We really want to hear from you about priorities and opportunities in agriculture! That is why we are hosting in-person listening sessions in different regions across the country and accepting submission of written comments.

Our next listening session is Oct. 18, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Please remember to RSVP by Oct. 11, if you wish to attend the in-person session. You must complete your RSVP via the input form.


Visit NIFA website for more information.

USDA Message

USDA image of soil types.

A Bacterial Reboot for Penicillin

The next time you stroll outside after the rain, thank the soil bacteria below for the sweet, earthy smell that fills the air. Credit for the pleasing smell goes to the bacteria’s spores, which get jettisoned off the ground and into the air by the impact of falling rain. “These bacteria are everywhere. You can dig them up in your own backyard,” notes Neil Price, a chemist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). For Price, though, it’s just a matter of pulling a specimen tube from the ARS Microbial Culture Collection, a repository of nearly 100,000 strains of bacteria and fungi kept at the agency’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Read the full USDA blog story.


A natural compound called tunicamycin, which is found in certain soil types, could bolster penicillin’s effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant germs.

News for You

Haley Oliver, associate professor of food science in Purdue University

Purdue Professor First Woman Selected to Present Justin Smith Morrill Lecture


Haley Oliver, associate professor of food science in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, has been selected to deliver the 2018 Justin Smith Morrill Lecture at this year’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Memorial Lecture Series in November. The lecture honors Justin Smith Morrill, for whom the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant university system, is named. Read the full Purdue University news

UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross

Tim Cross Wins National Epsilon Sigma Phi Award for Leadership and Service

The humble gentleman who leads thousands of employees at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) statewide is recognized for his commitment to Extension and outreach work.


UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross has been selected as the 2018 Distinguished Service Ruby Award winner by Epsilon Sigma Phi, an organization that includes thousands of Extension professionals from land-grant universities. Three University of Tennessee (UT) Extension faculty members also honored by National Association of Extension Professionals. Read the full UT story

Award Notifications

NIFA Invests $21 Million to Help Boost Organic Farming and Ranching

NIFA recently announced 25 grants that support farmers and ranchers grow and market high quality organic food, fiber, and other products through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG). Fifteen OREI grants totaling $17 million helps fund research, education, and extension projects to improve yields, quality, and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. Ten ORG grants totaling $4.48 million supports research, education, and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.

NIFA Invests $2 Million for Research and Extension on Alfalfa Productivity, Resilience, Quality, and Marketing  

NIFA recently awarded seven grants for integrated research to increase alfalfa yield and quality; improve harvest and storage systems; and extension efforts to support alfalfa marketing through better yield and quality estimate methods. These grants are part of the Alfalfa and Forage Research Program (AFRP), which supports collaborative research and extension to improve efficiency and sustainability of conventional and organic alfalfa production. AFRP encourages projects that bring together expertise from multiple disciplines, organizations, and states, for greater impact and for enhanced effectiveness of limited state, federal, and industry resources.

NIFA Awards $8.6 Million in Community Food Project and Planning Grants

NIFA recently announced 33 grants (24 Community Foods Project grants and nine planning projects) to foster self-sustaining solutions that help make healthy foods available to families living in low-income neighborhoods through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program. These projects increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems to improve the self-reliance of community members.

USDA SBIR Program awards $1,094,437 in Food Science and Nutrition Grants to Small Business

The USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which is administered by NIFA, recently awarded 12 grants to U.S. small business to develop projects that support research focusing on developing new and improved processes, technologies, or services that address emerging food safety, food processing, and nutrition issues.

USDA SBIR Program awards $638,705 in Aquaculture Grants to Small Business

The USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which is administered by NIFA, recently awarded seven grants to U.S. small business to develop new technologies that will enhance the knowledge and technology base necessary for the expansion of the domestic aquaculture industry as a form of production agriculture.

NIFA Invests Over $750,000 in Canola Research and Extension    

NIFA recently awarded two new grants and continued two additional grants for integrated research and extension to expand canola production across the United States. These grants are part of the Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program (SACC). These integrated research and extension projects aim to increase competitiveness of canola through breeding of superior canola varieties; to enhance and innovate planting, cultivating, and harvesting methods; and share new knowledge and technologies through extension outreach efforts. The aim of SACC is to increase viability of the U. S. canola crop and develop more cost effective production systems. 

NIFA Invests in Rural Veterinary Services across the Country

NIFA recently announced 14 Veterinary Service Grants Program (VSGP) Awards, seven Education, Extension and Training grants and seven Rural Practice Enhancement grants to help mitigate veterinary service shortages in the United States. This program is designed to support education and extension activities that will enable veterinarians, veterinary students, and veterinary technicians gain specialized skills and practices. The Agricultural Act of 2014 authorized the establishment of the VSGP as a companion to the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program to incentivize service in veterinarian shortage situations. Ultimately, VSGP will bolster the capacity of private veterinary practitioners to provide food animal veterinary services in rural veterinarian shortage locations.

NIFA Invests $8.68 Million to Develop Agricultural and Human Sciences Workforce


NIFA recently announced 10 new and 17 continuing grants to support agricultural science education via the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Education Grants Program. This program promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out education, applied research, and related community development projects to attract, retain, graduate students capable of enhancing the nation’s food, agricultural, natural resource, and human sciences work force. HSIs are colleges and universities that has at least 25 percent Hispanic student enrollment.