NIFA Update Feb. 12, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                          Feb. 12, 2020

Making a Difference

Tech Core coder Tim Lukau (right) stands by as two students simultaneously explore the Nano 2020 environment. Image courtesy of University of Arizona.

Tech Core coder Tim Lukau (right) stands by as two students simultaneously explore the Nano 2020 environment. Image courtesy of University of Arizona.

Scaling Up Nanotechnology in Virtual Reality

Sometimes the smallest of things lead to the biggest ideas. Case in point: Nano 2020, a University of Arizona-led initiative to develop curriculum and technology focused on educating students in the rapidly expanding field of nanotechnology.

The five-year, multi-university project recently met its goal of creating globally relevant and implementable curricula and instructional technologies, to include a virtual reality classroom, that enhance the capacity of educators to teach students about innovative nanotechnology applications in agriculture and the life sciences.

The University of Arizona started the Nano 2020 project with funding from a National Institute of Food and Agriculture Higher Education Challenge. Read the full University of Arizona article.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently celebrated the publication of the USDA Science Blueprint, which will serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s vision for and continued commitment to scientific research for the next five years (2020 to 2025). The blueprint provides a framework for coordinating USDA’s science initiatives across the Department to enhance organizational clarity, speed, and agility to meet the needs of USDA stakeholders and customers today and beyond. NIFA is excited about this blueprint that sets the foundation for advancing USDA’s scientific mission. Read the full blueprint online and read the full USDA press release.


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President’s Budget

The Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. Read the full President’s Budget for FY 2021.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue got a chance to see hemp-derived products. USDA photo by Michelle BankTice.

NIFA Industrial Hemp FAQs

The following information about the USDA Hemp Production Program and NIFA industrial hemp research is being provided since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law and implementation of 2018 Farm Bill provisions by USDA. The term “hemp” means the plant species Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant. Read all of the industrial hemp FAQs online.  

USDA image of industrial hemp. 

USDA Message

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Blueprint for Future USDA Science Endeavors

How will food, farm science, and research will be focused in the next five years? That is the focus of a USDA’s science blueprint recently released by the Agriculture Department. Rod Bain talks with Secretary Sonny Perdue and Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Scott Hutchins. Listen to the USDA broadcast.

News for You

A bunch of fried French fries on a white background, courtesy of GettyImages-1130991737

New Potato Varieties Have Lower Levels of Probable Carcinogen

Mary Ellen Camire has some good news about french fries. Fries made with the new potato varieties AF4296‐3 and Easton have much lower levels of a probable carcinogen than those made with the popular Russet Burbank variety, says the University of Maine (UMaine) professor of food science and human nutrition.

Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen in fried potatoes; during the frying process the chemical forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally in potatoes. The study was conducted as part of a USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture award of $7.8 million to a consortium that included the University of Wisconsin, UMaine, and other universities, federal laboratories and potato processors. Read the full UMaine news article.

A bunch of fried French fries on a white background, courtesy of Getty Images.

Award Announcements

Food Basket image by Tyler Stalman

NIFA Invests Over $7.6 Million in Food Safety Outreach Programs

NIFA recently announced 28 grants to address the needs of owners and operators of small to mid-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers. NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) facilitates the integration of Food Safety Modernization Act food safety guidelines into a variety of agricultural production and processing systems. FSOP encourages participants from local communities, community-based and non-governmental organizations, universities, extension, and state and federal agencies to develop and implement food safety outreach programs. In FY 2019, FSOP awards were made under two categories: Collaborative Education and Training Projects that support the development of multi-county, state-wide or multi-state programs and Community Outreach Projects that support the development of new food safety education and outreach programs in local communities and expand upon existing food safety education and outreach programs that address the needs of small, specialized audiences whose education needs have not previously been adequately addressed.

NIFA Invests $2.9 Million to Battle Opioid Crisis

NIFA recently awarded nine grants to prevent and/or reduce opioid misuse and abuse. The Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program addresses the needs of rural Americans by providing individual and family health and education programs. The program has focused exclusively on opioid related projects since 2018.

NIFA Invests $2.25 million in Potato Research

NIFA recently award four grants to support potato research programs that will test potato varieties for commercial development and develop new and improved potato varieties.

NIFA Invests $1.9 Million in Tribal Extension

NIFA recently awarded ten grants that will allows the 1994 Land-Grants (Tribal Colleges) to create extension offices for their reservation communities. Each extension office works with reservation communities to build programs that target local needs. The result is a diversified and targeted outreach. Reservation youth participate in fun activities in a safe environment. Farmers and ranchers gain science-based insights to improve their productivity. Financial literacy training enhances rural reservation economies. The 1994 Land-Grants also provide culture-centered family activities to restore Native languages, traditions and agriculture.

NIFA Invests $300,000 in America’s Forest and Rangeland

NIFA recently announced three grants to support America’s forest landowners and ranchers by providing expanded and comprehensive extension programs. These grants are being funded through the Renewable Resources Extension Act which provides education programs to forest and rangeland landowners and managers scientific research to make informed decisions about how to use and sustain America’s natural resources.

Funding Opportunity

Aquaculture image courtesy of Getty Images. 

Special Research Grants Program Aquaculture Research

The Aquaculture Research program supports the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the United States. This program generates new science-based information and innovation to address aquaculture industry constraints. Over the long term, results of these projects may help improve the profitability of the U.S. aquaculture industry, reduce the U.S. trade deficit, increase domestic food security, provide markets for U.S. produced grain products, increase domestic aquaculture business investment opportunities, and provide more jobs for rural and coastal America. For more information, read the full Aquaculture Research program request for applications funding opportunity.

Aquaculture image courtesy of Getty Images. 

Brainstorming session for small business research. Image courtesy of Getty Images. 

Small Business Innovation Research Program - Phase II

All USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase II projects must have previously completed a successful Phase I project before applying for a Phase II grant. Projects dealing with agriculturally related manufacturing along with alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all 2018 SBIR topic areas. SBIR's flexible research areas ensure innovative projects are consistent with USDA's vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. Read the full SBIR request for funding application for more information.   

Brainstorming session for small business research. Image courtesy of Getty Images.