NIFA Update - March 13, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                        March 13, 2020

Making a Difference

A barn swallow perches on a hand by boxes for strawberries.Photo courtesy of Elissa Olimpi with UC Davis.

A barn swallow perches on a hand by boxes for strawberries.Photo courtesy of Elissa Olimpi with UC Davis.

Natural Habitat Around Farms a Win for Strawberry Growers, Birds and Consumers

Conserving natural habitat around strawberry fields can help protect growers’ yields, their bottom line and the environment with no detectable threat to food safety, indicates a study led by the University of California, Davis.

In the study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, researchers conducted grower surveys and experiments at 20 strawberry farms stretching between Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Salinas on California’s Central Coast,  a region that produces 43 percent of the nation’s strawberries.

“Our results indicate that strawberry farmers are better off with natural habitat around their farms than without it,” said lead author Elissa Olimpi, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Daniel Karp, assistant professor with the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. The study was funded by a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Read the full UC Davis article.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

As our staff continue to process awards, if you are a grantee having ASAP (Automated Standard Application for Payments) issues, as a first step, please contact the NIFA ASAP team at While ASAP is a financial disbursement system owned and operated by the Department of Treasury, this system is used by many federal agencies, including NIFA, to manage disbursements to grantees. The NIFA ASAP team will help you determine the root cause of the issue, and will help resolve the issue, if within the NIFA ASAP team’s purview. More information is available online at NIFA's grants page


Dr. Dionne Toombs

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: 
Dr. Dionne Toombs

In celebration of Women’s History Month, USDA is proudly sharing stories of women leaders in agriculture who are helping girls and other women succeed along the way. In this blog, we feature Director of USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist Dr. Dionne Toombs. She provides leadership on a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education, and economics. Dr. Toombs talked about nurturing childhood curiosity, navigating hurdles, and how mentorship and education can best train the next generation of women in agriculture. Read the full USDA blog article.

Dr. Dionne Toombs reflects on her journey to becoming the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist.

USDA News Radio graphic

Turning Waste to Taste and Trash to Treasure

Some clever entrepreneurs are making new food and drink products from materials that, up to now, have been considered waste. USDA’s Gary Crawford has two examples on this edition of Agriculture USA. Gary talks with USDA scientist Dr. Tara McHugh, Treasure8 founder Timothy Childs, and Regrained's Chief Grant Officer Dan Kurzrock, about agriculture’s new treasure. Listen to the full USDA broadcast.

News for You

Virus Getty Images-1857603221-scaled

Understanding COVID-19

Understanding the coronavirus short video featuring Alabama Cooperative Extension's Poultry Science Specialist Ken Macklin. Watch the video.

Virus image courtesy of Getty Images.


South Carolina State University graphic logo

SCSU 1890 Program Receives $2 Million in Grants for Scholarships

The South Carolina State University (SCSU) 1890 Research and Extension Program has received a grant designed to increase the number of qualified professionals who will lead in the food, fiber, agriculture and human sciences fields. The research and public service program received $2.25 million to support the newly developed Agriculture Innovation Scholarship Program funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Over a four-year period, S.C. State 1890 will award $562,500 each year in scholarships. Read the full Times and Democrat article.

Funding Opportunity

GusFINI supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers.Image by Erick Scheel.

The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program Formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI)

The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. The program will test strategies that could contribute to our understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. In addition to other factors, NIFA will give priority to projects that have demonstrated the ability to provide services to underserved communities and/or economically distressed communities, particularly Opportunity Zones. Read the full GusFini funding opportunity.

NIFA Hero image of K-14 children looking into a microscope; photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Image of K-14 children looking into a microscope; photo courtesy of Getty Images.

AFRI's - Education and Workforce Development

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Education and Workforce Development (EWD) focuses on developing the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. EWD invites applications in five areas: professional development for agricultural literacy; training of undergraduate students in research and extension; fellowships for predoctoral candidates; fellowships for postdoctoral scholars, and a brand-new program for agricultural workforce training. Read the EWD Request for Applications for more details.