NIFA Update March 20

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                         March 20, 2019

Making a Difference

Smooth Criminal summer squash (left) and First Love melon (right). Photo courtesy: Seneca Vegetable Research and High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Smooth Criminal summer squash (left) and First Love melon (right). Photo courtesy: Seneca Vegetable Research and High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Fruits of UNH Breeding Research: New Fruit, Vegetables Available for 2019

Gardeners preparing to plant their fruits and vegetables have several new pumpkin, squash, and melon varieties to choose from this year thanks to a researcher at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station.

Brent Loy, emeritus professor of plant genetics, developed several new cucurbit varieties that are well suited to state and regional growing conditions, have improved marketing qualities, and exhibit intermediate resistance to powdery mildew disease.

“Development of new varieties is a key underpinning for producing abundant and nutritious vegetables," Loy said. "Improved variety performance in terms of yield, quality and ease of culture is paramount. Better appearance and improved nutrition and eating quality increase consumer acceptance and demand for locally produced vegetables, thereby providing more income to growers, and for regional seed companies marketing locally adapted varieties, helps maintain their profitability."

Three new pumpkins, a summer squash, a butternut squash, and a melon are available in 2019 seed catalogues. This material is based upon work supported by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of NIFA and the state of New Hampshire. Read the full University of New Hampshire article.


Changes to 2019 Competitive RFAs and New Awards for Match and Indirect Cost Rates to Meet New Requirements Contained in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-334)

You may notice changes to open RFAs and future RFAs and to new competitive awards to adjust the language regarding indirect cost rate limitations and matching requirements. This is due to new provisions in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill).


Section 7614 of the 2018 Farm Bill removed the matching requirements on NIFA competitive grants imposed under the 2014 Farm Bill. Therefore, there are changes to the matching requirements on many competitive grants awarded in 2019. For programs that were in existence prior to Oct. 1, 2014, with the removal of the 2014 Farm Bill’s matching requirement, they revert to earlier legislative matching requirements. As a result, some programs will have no matching requirement, while others may have a 100 percent match requirement for all grantees, since previously exempted entities are no longer exempt, that cannot be waived by NIFA. To clearly convey the current matching requirements for NIFA’s competitive programs, including programs first-authorized or first-funded after Oct. 1, 2014, the table detailing matching requirements by program that is posted on the NIFA website has been updated and may be referred to for information on specific matching requirements.

All RFAs published after Dec. 20, 2018, contained the applicable 2018 Farm Bill match requirements. 

Indirect Cost Rate Limitation

Section 7125 of the 2018 Farm Bill modified Section 1462 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 resulting in a different indirect cost limitation for new competitive awards under many of NIFA’s program. As applicable, under the Section 7125 amendment, indirect costs are limited to 30 percent of the total Federal funds provided under the award and the limitation on indirect costs applies to both the initial grant award and to any subgrants, so that the total of all indirect costs charged against the total Federal funds awarded does not exceed the 30 percent limitation. NIFA has updated the indirect cost recovery table on the NIFA website to list the new indirect cost rate requirements by program. Additionally, we have developed guidance for calculation of indirect costs under the new requirements. 

For applicable programs, this requirement is effective for new awards issued after Dec. 20, 2018, regardless of whether grants are Fiscal Year 2018 or 2019 funds. Where grants were awarded after Dec. 20, 2018, grantees will be contacted by the Awards Management Division regarding application of the new indirect cost provisions. For impacted RFAs that have closed, NIFA will work with entities recommended for funding, prior to award, to make any necessary changes to comply with the new provision. All impacted open RFAs have been modified to include the new provision. Future RFAs will include the new provision, as applicable.


Questions on either the changes to matching requirements or indirect cost recovery may be directed to the program contact listed in the RFA, or the grant contact included on the Notice of Award. Additional information is available on the NIFA webpages: Match Requirement and Indirect Costs.

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USDA Celebrates National Ag Day with New Youth Website

USDA launched a new Youth and Agriculture website to celebrate National Ag Day by connecting young people and youth-serving organizations with department-wide resources that engage, empower, and educate the next generation of agricultural leaders. National Ag Day highlights agriculture’s crucial role in everyday life and honors the farmers, foresters, scientists, producers and many others who contribute to America’s bountiful harvest. The site also highlights USDA partners, such as 4-H, the National FFA Organization, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, Agriculture Future of America, and many others working with the department to connect young people with opportunities in agriculture. Learn more at the USDA Youth and Agriculture website.

USDA Message

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USDA Announces 1890 National Scholars Program Funding Opportunity

USDA recently announced the opening of the 2019 scholarship application cycle for the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program. This program aims to increase the number of minority students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and other agriculture-related disciplines. The program is available through USDA's Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically black land-grant colleges and universities that provides full tuition, fees, books, and room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When students complete the scholarship requirements, USDA may convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition. Read the full USDA press release.


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2018 Research, Education, and Economics Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session

A Federal Register Notice on March 19 published a notice entitled "2018 Research, Education, and Economics Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session”. 

In preparing to implement the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill), USDA's Research, Education, and Economics mission area will host a listening session for public input regarding new programs and changes to existing programs implemented by the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, NIFA, and the Office of the Chief Scientist. The listening session will be held March 21, from 1 to 5 p.m. (EDT). To attend in person you must register today by 5 p.m. (EDT) Find more information on attendance requirements and instructions for submitting written comments at Federal Register Notice.

Award Announcements

NIFA Builds Food and Agricultural Science Capacity at 1890 Land Grant Universities

NIFA recently announced 53 grants totaling more than $18 million that will build and strengthen research, teaching and extension programs in the food and agricultural sciences at 1890 historically black land-grant colleges and universities. These 1890 Institution Teaching, Research, and Extension Capacity Building Grants will also focus on strengthening the partnerships among the universities, government agencies, and private industry through food and agricultural science and advancing cultural diversity in the scientific and professional workforce by attracting more students from underrepresented groups.