NIFA Update Sept. 18

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                        Sept. 18, 2019

Making a Difference

A student plays one of the 7 Generation Games. Photo by Maria Burns Ortiz

A student plays one of the 7 Generation Games culturally-relevant games to learn math skills. Photo courtesy of Maria Burns Ortiz.

Teaching and Reaching those Frequently ‘Left Behind’

The digital divide between population centers and rural America is a fact of life. For some, it’s simply a lack of cell phone coverage; for others, it signals a lack of education for their children.

The situation gave innovators at 7 Generation Games the idea of developing immersive video games and interactive apps aimed at improving math skills for children in rural areas. The company has offices in Santa Monica, California, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. “We create solutions for the schools Silicon Valley has left behind, building software optimized for rural and tribal communities,” said Maria Burns Ortiz, chief executive officer and co-founder of 7 Generation Games.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has supported The Julia Group, parent organization of 7 Generation Games, with several Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. Read the full USDA blog.



NIFA Identifier graphic

Temporary Suspension of Automated Standard Application for Payments


TO:  NIFA Awardees

FROM:  Cynthia Montgomery Deputy Director Office of Grants and Financial Management 

SUBJECT:  For Immediate Action: Temporary Suspension of Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) Accounts for Non-Federal Grantees for Sept. 2019 and Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) Billing Processing for Federal Grantees for Sept. 2019 (final month for the federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2019).

To close out the 2019 Federal fiscal year, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will temporarily suspend all open ASAP accounts for non-federal grantees Sept. 20, 2019, at noon EST) thru Sept. 30,2019. All NIFA recipients (i.e., with Agency Location Code (ALC) 12402200 and 12402200/01) should withdraw the necessary funding for that period on or before Sept. 20, 2019 with a required settlement date of Sept. 20, 2019All accounts will be available 8 a.m. (EST) Oct. 1, 2019.  Suspension dates for all other months and dates is at 4-business days prior to the end of the month.

NIFA will accept IPAC bills from federal grantees for FY 2019 processing until, Sept. 20, 2019, at noon EST. NIFA will resume processing IPAC bills Oct. 2, 2019.  For FY 2020, NIFA will be announcing an IPAC bill processing schedule, which will be posted to the NIFA web page, “Manage a Grant,” under “Grants.”

For questions or concerns about ASAP, email Tara Hayes, Branch Chief, Accounting Operations Branch, or call (202) 445-5448.  ASAP questions or concerns may also be addressed to For questions or concerns about IPAC payments, email Jeff Sweet, Financial Analysis Branch, or call (202) 604-2834.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $3.5 Million in Bioprocessing and Bioengineering Research

NIFA recently awarded nine Bioprocessing and Bioengineering research 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.

NIFA Invests $5 Million in Economics, Markets, and Trade Research

NIFA recently announced 12 Economics, Markets, and Trade research grants that will promote American agricultural products and exports. Research efforts include the effects of regulatory measures on U.S. and global agricultural trade, quantitatively evaluating food safety monitoring and enforcement tools, the economic viability and growth of organic farming, and a regional dynamic model of U.S. beef cattle to assess the economic impacts of movement restrictions in an event of foot-and-mouth disease. This research will also help U.S. farmers provide a safe, nutritious and secure food supply while promoting rural prosperity and economic development. Further, NIFA and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board will co-fund one of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the Farm Bill encouraging public-private research partnerships through NIFA’s commodity boards program. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Invests $547,670 in Outreach to Farmers with Disabilities  

NIFA recently announced three new extension projects to support farmers with disabilities in the United States. The projects in North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington state will focus on increasing independent living and the quality of life for agricultural workers with disabilities by providing them and their families with farm safety education, assistive technology assistance, and networking support. This will enable farmers to return to/remain active and successful in agriculture. NIFA continual funding and ongoing projects in several other states, which are a part of NIFA’s Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities, also known as AgrAbility.

NIFA Invests $462,744 to Decrease the Impact of Disasters through Education

NIFA recently announced support for five grants designed to decrease the impact of disasters through Cooperative Extension, working with the Extension Disaster Education Network. Within the states and territories, the Cooperative Extension System has repeatedly served as the trusted community organization that has helped to enable families, communities, and businesses to successfully prepare for, respond to and cope with disaster losses and critical incidents. Once a disaster has occurred, the local extension outreach includes:

  • Communicating practical science-based risk information,
  • Developing relevant educational experiences and programs,
  • Working with individuals and communities to open new communication channels, and
  • Mitigating losses and facilitating recovery.

These Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants will help Cooperative Extension serve the public needs in preparation for, during, and after local or regional emergency situations.