NIFA Update Nov. 14

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           Nov. 14, 2018

Making a Difference

Walter Palmer, farmer in Cornell University's Farm-Ops program. Image provided by Cornell.

Walter Palmer, farmer in Cornell University's Farm Ops program. Image provided by Cornell.

Cornell Farm Ops Set-Up Veterans for Success

Walter Palmer had been farming for nine months when he noticed his best lamb, a Cheviot-Dorset cross his wife named Italy, was acting strangely.

Desperately worried, he called Jonathan Barter, his farming mentor provided by Cornell University’s Farm Ops program. Part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the program sets up New York state veterans for success in agriculture.

Palmer, 35, had held onto the dream of farming throughout his military service. He was a corporal in the Marine Corps 2001-05 based in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and a senior airman in the Air Force 2005-09 based in San Antonio, Texas. When he left the military, he returned home to New York to pursue his interest in agriculture.

Cornell’s Farm Ops program, which helps veterans in all aspects of farming, received funding through a grant from the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program at NIFA. The program offers free or low-cost classes (online, in the classroom, and in the field) with up-to-date research necessary for farm operations. The Farm Ops program, started in 2015, has seen the number of members joining triple. Read the full Cornell story.


USDA graphic logo

USDA Partners with Communities to Bring High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Infrastructure to Rural Areas

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is investing in infrastructure projects in a dozen states to improve e-Connectivity in rural communities.

“In the modern economy, rural broadband is a lifeline to quality of life and economic opportunity,” Hazlett said. “With that impact, USDA is fiercely committed under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue on expanding access to e-Connectivity in rural America.” Read the full USDA press release.

News for You

Hongwei Xin, University of Tennessee's new Dean for AgResearch. Image from UTIA.

UTIA Announces New Dean for AgResearch

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) has named Hongwei Xin, currently assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, as UTIA’s new dean for AgResearch. Xin will begin his new role in May 2019, after the conclusion of the current academic year.

In a letter to staff and stakeholders announcing Xin’s appointment, Tim Cross, UTIA chancellor, noted Xin’s deep understanding of the land-grant mission and collaborative style. Cross wrote,”Hongwei comes to UTIA with an international reputation for research and academic leadership. His work has had major impacts on U.S. and global animal agriculture and has produced significant contributions to scientific literature and engineering practices related to animal production systems.” Xin has served as the principal or co-principal investigator of more than $23.7 million in competitive grants and contracts for research, Extension and education programs. Read the full University of Tennessee new release.

Photo of a corn field, courtesy of Getty Images.

New Study will Track Ways to Cut Runoff from Elevated Phosphorus Fields

By Kurt Knebusch

Some farm fields in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed have more phosphorus than their crops can use. Called “elevated phosphorus fields,” such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms. That’s the premise of a new five-year, $5 million study that hopes to learn about those fields and lower that risk by creating new public-private partnerships.

Led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the study plans to monitor and manage more than a dozen elevated phosphorus fields, all in the Maumee River watershed.

The study includes partners and supporters from CFAES, the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Ohio State’s Center on Education and Training for Employment, and 12 Ohio agricultural businesses and organizations. NIFA is funding the study, which started in September and will run through summer 2023. Read the full the full OSU news story

 Photo of a corn field, courtesy of Getty Images.

National Rural Health Day graphic logo

National Rural Health Day

Over 60 million Americans live in rural and frontier communities. Rural communities are wonderful places to live and work, but these communities also have unique healthcare needs, which is why the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health sets aside the third Thursday of every November – Nov. 15, 2018 to celebrate National Rural Health Day! Learn more from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.


Dr. Haley Oliver, Purdue University Associate Professor of Food Science

NIFA Selects Purdue University's Dr. Haley Oliver to Deliver 2018 Justin Smith Morrill Lecture

NIFA selected Purdue University Associate Professor of Food Science Dr. Haley Oliver to deliver the Justin Smith Morrill Lecture on Nov. 11 at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Oliver is the first woman selected to deliver the lecture and was chosen in recognition of her demonstrated leadership in education as well as her contributions to promoting excellence in the food and agricultural sciences. Read the full NIFA announcement.

Notification Announcements

USDA SBIR Program awards $1,199,384 in Phase II Grants to Small Businesses to Research and Develop Commercial Innovations under the Biofuels and Biobased Products Topic Area

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, administered by NIFA, recently awarded two grants to U.S. small businesses to promote product usage through innovative technologies that increase bio-production from agriculture materials and provide new opportunities to diversify agriculture’s role in the raw materials industry.