NIFA Update - Jan. 29, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                          Jan. 29, 2020

Making a Difference

msu-leads-study-exploring-the-viability-of-using-indoor-farming-to-grow-leafy-greens-image-by MSU

The Controlled-Environment Lighting Laboratory, led by Erik Runkle, a professor in the MSU Department of Horticulture, will be used to grow leafy greens for a new USDA funded project. Image courtesy of MSU.

MSU Leads Study to Explore Viability of Growing Leafy Greens Indoors

A multi-university team of horticulturists, engineers, and agricultural economists led by Michigan State University (MSU) has received a four-year, $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study indoor production of leafy greens.

Leafy greens include commonly consumed vegetables such as lettuce and kale. Production challenges outdoors have led to interest in growing these specialty crops hydroponically in controlled environments, however there is little information on whether this is economically viable. Read the full MSU news article.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

A follow up to last weeks’ Angle’s Update about submitting a Project Financial Report. This report captures expenditures and full-time equivalent’s that occurred in the most recently completed federal fiscal year. If a grantee has no expenditures within that period (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30), they would enter 0 in the categories. The REEport Financial Report is due Feb. 1, 2020, with more information available from the REEport Financial Report Manual. Feel free to share the following NIFA webpage with awardees which contains more detailed information


A young, worried farmer feels the weight of managing a farm. FRSAN can help farmers deal with farming pressures. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Helping America’s Farmers, Ranchers, and Producers When They Need It Most

Have you ever felt like you reached your breaking point? Known someone who has? Didn’t know where to turn when you needed help? Financial pressure. Job loss. Relationship challenges. Social isolation. Compound Stress. Any and all can lead one to question, “What’s the point?” Even the most resilient among us can be brought to our knees.

That’s a key reason the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network is forming. America’s farmers and ranchers are a notoriously resilient bunch. They wake early no matter the weather and toil long hours to ensure crops and livestock are nurtured and healthy. They take on high levels of risk to fund their operations. They operate with a mindset that they can overcome adversity – be it from the weather, pests, or markets.

But when all those forces align to create a perfect storm, it can become that much harder to wait for the rainbow that may follow. Read the full NIFA blog article.

A young, worried farmer feels the weight of managing a farm. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network can help this farmer deal with farming pressures. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

USDA Meets with the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Regarding Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network House Agriculture Committee Meeting photo

The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a roundtable discussion Jan. 29, with Subcommittee Members on the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. Brent Elrod with NIFA provided an update on FY2019 FRSAN funded projects and expectations of when the FY2020 Request for Applications will be published. Latrice Hill with USDA’s Farm Service Agency discussed FSA’s work and collaboration with NIFA and NIFA’s partners to help America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers.

Attendees included full House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN), Subcommittee Chairwoman Stacey Plaskett (VI), Subcommittee Ranking Member Neal Dunn, and Representatives Kim Schrier (WA), Roger Marshall (KS), Chellie Pingree (ME), Jim Baird (IN), and Antonio Delgado (NY). Photo courtesy of the House Agriculture Committee.

U.S. House of Representatives 4-H Caucus Briefing

4-H House Agriculture Committee Briefing Photo courtesy of Jeremy Witte.

On January 15, 2020, the House of Representatives 4-H Caucus held a 4-H briefing to provide a general overview of 4-H. The briefing was a collaboration of the 4-H Caucus, 4-H Council, Extension (APLU’s Extension Committee on Organization and Policy - ECOP), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Three of the 4-H Caucus Co-chairs spoke: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN), and Representatives Roger Marshall (KS) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA). Speakers from the Extension/4-H partnership included: Josh Stull (NIFA), ECOP Chair Mark Latimore, Jr. (Fort Valley State University), Past ECOP Chair and National 4-H Council Trustee, Ed Jones (Virginia Tech), and Jennifer Sirangelo (National 4-H Council). More than 50 staff members were in attendance.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Witte, House Agriculture Committee.

News for You

Tomato plant image courtesy of Oktay Ortakcioglu Ratoath.

Managing Soil Microbes
A Multistate Research Fund Impact

Plants depend on microorganisms in the soil for growth and reproduction, but some microbes damage plants. Each year, 7% to 15% of the world’s major crops are lost to soilborne fungi, bacteria, and nematodes. In the U.S. alone, yearly losses are estimated at over $10 billion.

Researchers from 20+ land-grant universities are exploring alternative ways—such as biopesticides, soil additives, farming practices, and resistant crop varieties—to suppress soilborne pathogens without the risks associated with chemical pesticides. New discoveries have helped growers, especially organic growers, successfully manage soilborne diseases and increase crop quality, yields, profitability, and sustainability. Read the full Multistate Research Impact.

Tomato plant image courtesy of Oktay Ortakcioglu Ratoath.

Press Clips

Food in a trash can, image courtesy of Machine Headz

The Shocking Amount of Food U.S. Households Waste Every Year

A new study from Penn State University revealed that U.S. households waste about a third of the food they purchased every year. The results were similar to previous studies that showed Americans wasted an estimated 30% to 40% of their food. The study, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, found that the average U.S. household wasted 31.9% of its food. The total annual cost of the wasted food was estimated to be $240 billion or $1,866 per household. The data came from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey and included 4,000 households. Read the full Forbes article.   

Food in a trash can, image courtesy of Machine Headz.

Funding Opportunity

Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG)

BRAG supports the generation of new information that will assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing into the environment genetically engineered organisms, including plants, microorganisms — such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses — arthropods, fish, birds, mammals and other animals excluding humans. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant. The BRAG accomplishes this purpose by providing federal regulatory agencies scientific information relevant to regulatory issues. For more information read the full BRAG Request for Funding Announcement.

Solicitation of Input from Stakeholders on the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program--FRTEP

NIFA published a notice, Dec. 23, 2019, to request written stakeholder input on the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program. The document contained an incorrect email address for the agency point of contact. This document provides a correct email address. Comments on the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program must still be received by the agency on or before Feb. 15, 2020 to be assured of consideration.

You may submit comments, identified by NIFA-2020-0001, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Include NIFA-2020-0001 in the subject line of the message.

All submissions received must include the Title, ''Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program'' and NIFA-2020-0001. All comments received will be posted to, including any personal information provided.

For more information contact Erin Riley at 816-926-2131 or email at

View the full Federal Register Notice Notice online