NIFA Update - May 6, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           May 6, 2020

Making a Difference

Irrigation system,  image courtesy of Kansas State University.

Working to help conserve the Ogallala Aquifer, Kansas State University’s mobile drip system is retrofitted to existing center pivot irrigation systems, monitored and managed by mobile phone. Irrigating wheat in western Kansas with mobile drip saves 30-60% compared to conventional sprinkler irrigation. Photo by K-State Research and Extension.

Saving the Ogallala Aquifer, Supporting Farmers

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the world’s largest fresh groundwater resources. It underlies 175,000 square miles in eight states. Starting as hundreds of feet of silt, clay, and gravel eroded from the Rocky Mountains and laid down by streams millions of years ago, rainfall during this time produced an underground lake the size of Lake Huron.

By the 1930s, unsustainable farming practices and recurring drought turned most of the Ogallala Aquifer states into the Dust Bowl. Massive dust storms caused farmers to lose their livelihoods and their homes. By the early to mid-20th century, irrigation and farming technologies had advanced to help convert these midwestern states to farms that today support 30 percent of all U.S. crop and livestock production. For more information read the NIFA blog.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

It is with very mixed emotions that I announce that I will be leaving NIFA. I have accepted an offer to become the Vice President for the University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Gainesville, Florida. I will assume this role in July 2020. The Department will appoint an Acting Director, who will be based in Washington, D.C., and will serve following my departure. In the meantime, NIFA’s leadership team will work closely with me to plan for the Agency’s transition and ensure operations to continue seamlessly without effecting mission continuity. I am pleased with the progress NIFA has made, and I know our work will continue. We have strong leadership in place, and we should not see an interruption in our operations. Leaving is bittersweet but the leadership team is moving forward successfully with your support.


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NIFA Seeks COVID-19 Research Proposals

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking research proposals to address how COVID-19 is impacting agriculture. USDA’s Stephanie Ho talks with NIFA Director J. Scott Angle, about how NIFA is helping agriculture research. Listen to the USDA broadcast.

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An Update on the Food Supply Chain

In this “The Sonnyside of the Farm” episode Secretary Sonny will be talking to a producer and a grocer to help paint the picture of the American food supply chain from farm to table. These are extremely challenging times, but Secretary Sonny wants to be sure you have the facts and know what’s going on with your food. Listen to the USDA podcast.

News for You

Prairie View A&M University graphic logo

New Scholarship Opportunity for Agricultural Majors

Agriculture touches every aspect of life, and now a new scholarship program for 1890 land-grant food and agricultural sciences (FAS) majors will ensure that Prairie View A&M University and other 1890 institutions will be instrumental in growing future agriculture professionals. First-time college students and those who transfer from other colleges are eligible for the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences’ Passport to Careers in Agriculture, or PCA, scholarship. Funding for the PCA scholarship is made possible through NIFA’s 1890 Scholarships Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. For more read the full Prairie View A&M article.

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4-H at Home – Mitigating Learning Loss for Children 

To address the opportunities for school children impacted by school closures, 4-H programs around the country are contributing to 4-H at Home, a consumer-facing compilation of virtual positive youth development programming for families. This resource is designed to promote the important role of the land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension—and to mitigate the substantial learning loss that has occurred and could continue over the summer. Please consider directing State 4-H Program Specialists and Leaders to submit content/links at

Funding Opportunity

Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN)

The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) Program helps establish networks connecting individuals who are engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs. This establishment of a network assists farmers and ranchers in time of stress and can offer a conduit to improving behavioral health awareness, literacy, and outcomes for agricultural producers, workers, and their families. For more information read the FRSAN funding opportunity.

Farm Business Management and Benchmarking (FBMB)
Competitive Grants Program

The Farm Business Management and Benchmarking (FBMB) Competitive Grants Program provides funds for enhancing agricultural producers’ farm management knowledge and skills by maintaining and expanding a national, publicly available farm financial management database to support improved farm management. For more information read the FBMB funding opportunity.

Equipment Grant Program (EGP)

The Equipment Grant Program (EGP) serves to increase access to shared-use food and agricultural sciences’ special purpose equipment/instruments for applied research at institutions of higher education, including State Cooperative Extension Systems. EGP strengthens the quality and expands the scope of fundamental and applied research at eligible institutions, by providing opportunities to acquire one major piece of equipment/instruments that supports their research, training, and extension goals and may be too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NIFA grant programs. EGP does not support the acquisition of suites of equipment to outfit research laboratories /facilities or to conduct independent experiments simultaneously. Rather, it is intended to help fund items of equipment that will upgrade infrastructure. For more information read the EGP funding opportunity.

Tweet of the Week

NIFA Penn State University climate change impact tweet graphic