NIFA Update Oct. 31

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

NIFA Update Banner

Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           Oct. 31, 2018

Making a Difference

LEADERS program students. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State University and Texas A&M University

LEADERS program students. Photo courtesy of New Mexico State University.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions Develop LEADERS

The LEADERS program is a collaborative project between Texas A&M University-Kingsville and New Mexico State University to increase the number of underserved animal science students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The project helps these students develop experiential learning and professional development opportunities through internships, professional meetings, university exchange programs, educational tours, and mentors. In just two years, the LEADERS program has realized significant gains in student achievement: the percent of students with grade point averages (GPA) between 2.5 and 2.99 declined from 23 percent to 9 percent while the percent of students with GPAs between 3.0 and 3.99 increased from 77 to 82 percent. The number of participating students reporting a GPA of higher than 3.0 increased from 73 to 97 percent. Read more about the LEADERS program.


Dr. Angle Begins Term as Director at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue swears in Dr. Scott Angle as the new Director of NIFA as his parents look on.

(Left photo) U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (center) swears in Dr. Scott Angle (left) as the new Director of NIFA as his parents (right) look on. Right photo, Angle addresses NIFA staff.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue swore in Dr. J. Scott Angle as the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Oct. 29. President Trump appointed Angle for a six-year term at the agency on Aug. 31.

“Dr. Angle has more than 35 years of experience in scientific research and administration, and I am confident that he will move NIFA forward in many ways,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA’s Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. “His academic track record of providing practical solutions to local, regional, and national challenges, as well as his globally focused experience, will help NIFA as it supports the science required to help U.S. agriculture and rural communities achieve sustainable economic prosperity.”

Angle most recently served as the president and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center, an organization that helps agriculture in developing countries use fertilizer and other technologies. Angle's resume includes 10 years as Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and a long academic and administrative tenure at the University of Maryland.

Prior to Angle’s arrival, NIFA was led by Acting Director Dr. Thomas Shanower, at the position since the departure of Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the NIFA's previous Director.

Angle’s biographical sketch is available on the NIFA website.

USDA Ag Outlook Forum 2019 graphic

USDA Announces 2019 Agricultural Outlook Forum

Early bird registration is now open for the 95th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, the largest annual meeting of the USDA. This two-day event will take place on Feb. 21-22, 2019, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

This year’s forum theme, “Growing Locally, Selling Globally,” highlights current issues and trends affecting agricultural production and global markets. It offers a platform for exchanging ideas, information, and best practices among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both domestic and foreign. Concurrent sessions will explore topics such as global trade trends, innovations in agriculture, developments in animal and crop biotechnology, frontiers in conservation, and outlooks for food and commodity markets. An exhibit hall will showcase resources from USDA agencies and private organizations. Last year, nearly 1,600 stakeholders attended the forum. Read the full USDA press release.

News for You

Efficient Vineyard research team teaches growers how to apply information to better manage vineyards. Photo by Efficient Vineyard.

Project Helps Grape Growers Use New Technology Effectively in Vineyards

At first glance, a vineyard might seem like a fairly predictable environment, but think about all the variables in the growing area. Soil types can influence exactly how a canopy can perform, and that can impact yield; it’s not as simple as grapes hanging on a vine. As new technologies come online to help automate vineyard production, it becomes increasingly important to understand how to use all the data that technology generates. The biggest challenge to integrating new technology has always been how to use the data that is collected with sensors, drones, and other computer systems. This is where the Efficient Vineyard Project comes in. The project is a national NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative--funded project. Read the full Growing Produce article.

For more information visit The research team also hosts webinars the second Tuesday of every month for growers interested in incorporating the technologies in their own vineyards.

Photo courtesy of Efficient Vineyard Project.

SoAR Foundation graphic logo

New SoAR Report Identifies Priorities for Global Plant Research

Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) has released a new report entitled “Developing Global Priorities for Plant Research.” The report presents a concise set of plant-focused research recommendations to inform the decision-making of agricultural research funders. It is the result of a series of interviews and an in-person meeting with 12 leading plant scientists from Europe, China, and the United States.

Developing Global Priorities for Plant Research describes five approaches to addressing the greatest challenges facing agriculture in the 21st century, including increasing production while reducing inputs in a changing climate. Read the full SoAR news story.


Adobe Stock Awards Graphic image

USDA, Research Partners Announce Winners of Awards for Excellence in Agricultural Research, Leadership and Diversity

NIFA joined with some of its research partners to announce the recipients of awards recognizing excellence in agricultural research. These awards will be presented at the 131st Annual Meeting of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Nov. 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The awards honor research excellence in three categories: National Excellence in Multistate Research, Excellence in Research Leadership, and National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion. Awardees are recognized annually by NIFA, APLU, and the Experiment Station Section of APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly. Read the full NIFA APLU awards announcement.

Award Notifications

USDA SBIR Program awards $1,797,883 in Phase II Grants to Small Businesses to Research and Develop Commercial Innovations Under the Forest and Related Resources Topic Area

The USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which is administered by NIFA, recently awarded three grants to U.S. small business to focus on the health, diversity, and productivity of forests and grasslands by sustaining forest resources, addressing climate variability impacts, developing value-added materials, and protecting existing ecosystems.

SBIR Program awards $1,799,612 in Phase II Grants to Small Businesses to Research and Develop Commercial Innovations Under the Plant Production and Protection — Engineering Topic Area

SBIR recently awarded three grants to US small business to enhance crop development and safety by reducing the impact of harmful agents and developing economically and environmentally sound production, post-harvest, and storage systems.

SBIR Program awards $1,200,000 in Phase II Grants to Small Businesses to Research and Develop Commercial Innovations Under the Plant Production and Protection — Biology Topic Area

SBIR recently awarded two grants to US small business to enhances crop production and protection through biological approaches that reduce the impact of harmful agents, advance plant improvement methods, and develop new food and specialty crop plants.