NIFA Update - July 8, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           July 8, 2020

Water drop close up. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Making a Difference

Water for Tomorrow  

The largest freshwater aquifer in the world, the Ogallala, has been an entire generation’s primary source for agricultural and public groundwater in eastern Colorado and six Great Plains states. Ninety percent of its pumped water is used for irrigation, making a fifth of the annual U.S. agricultural harvest possible, and helping support 30 percent of livestock produced in the nation. Since 2016, a Colorado State University-led consortium of eight western universities has worked tirelessly to address these very challenges. The team of experts, students, and partners was formed through a $10 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Water for Agriculture Challenge program. The USDA-funded work aimed to foster engagement with the people most affected by the declining water supply – the farmers and producers who rely on it and who, above all others, are dedicated to saving it. For more information, read the Colorado State University article.

Water drop close up. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.


NIFA Invites Partners’ Continued Participation in Capacity Grant Budget Pilot for FY 2021

In FY 2020, to enhance financial accountability for capacity grant funds, NIFA implemented a high-level capacity budget submission process as a pilot. Over 30 institutions voluntarily participated in that pilot. For FY 2021, NIFA has decided to continue the successful FY 2020 pilot and allow institutions to get additional experience preparing and submitting these budgets.

NIFA intends to require capacity grantees to submit high-level capacity grant budgets with their grant applications in FY 2022 (with the exception of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program grantees, who already have budget submission requirements).

Capacity grantees have been emailed invitations to participate in the FY 2021 pilot, and those who indicated interest by responding to by July 1 will receive detailed instructions to join NIFA staff for a webinar where feedback from the first year of the pilot will be shared. Webinar information will also be posted on NIFA’s capacity budget resource page, along with sample budgets and updated FAQs.

NIFA flower identifier graphic

NIFA Career Opportunities

We are hiring! Remember to check out NIFA's Career Opportunities webpage, where there is a direct link to all open positions. You can also explore NIFA jobs at the website. Current openings in Kansas City, Missouri:

Administrative Officer, GS 11
Closing date: 7/09/2020                  

Lead Staff Accountant, GS 13
Closing date: 07/21/2020

Internal Controls Officer, GS 13
Closing date: 07/21/2020

Biological/Social Science Specialist (National Program Leader), GS 13-15
Closing date: 9/30/2020

USDA news radio graphic

Technology Transfer and Benefits for Agriculture

An annual look by USDA at how innovations are turned into solutions and products for consumers and the public-at-large is now available. USDA’s Rod Bain talks with Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Scott Hutchins, as they look at examples of some food and ag research that is now in use. For more information, listen to the USDA broadcast.

News for You

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor P. Stephen Baenziger. Image courtesy of P. Stephen Baenziger.

Hybrid Wheat Research

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln researcher has received $650,000 for a project that has the potential to improve wheat productivity through the development of hybrid wheat varieties. Professor Stephen Baenziger received the three-year grant through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant program. As the world's population surges, experts estimate wheat productivity will have to improve by 1.4% to 1.7% annually to meet worldwide demand. Wheat is a self-pollinating crop, and one of the most promising methods of increasing wheat productivity is through developing hybrid wheat varieties. For more information, read the University of Nebraska-Lincoln article.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor P. Stephen Baenziger. Image courtesy of P. Stephen Baenziger.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests in Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fields

NIFA recently awarded four grants in the Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields program (WAMS). WAMS supports research, education/teaching, and extension projects to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science technology engineering and math. NIFA intends this program to address educational needs within broadly defined areas of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences relevant to the USDA’s mission. This year’s funded projects include veterinary medicine, cybersecurity, Native waters and lands, and forest bioproducts and energy disciplines that contribute to strengthening or developing a highly competent, robust, and diverse food and agricultural STEM workforce.

NIFA Invests $6.2 Million in Research in Animal Reproduction

NIFA recently announced 14 Animal Reproduction awards that will lead to better strategies for animal production systems by enhancing reproductive management. These advances will come from basic and applied research on the cellular, molecular, genomic, and whole animal aspects of animal reproduction. NIFA invests into science-based management practices that help America’s agricultural enterprises thrive and meet growing consumer demand. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Invests Over $4.7 Million in Critical Research and Extension to Address Urgent Needs in Agriculture

NIFA recently awarded 16 research and extension grants that will advance solutions to critically important problems in U.S. agriculture. These NIFA investments in user-inspired projects bring together researchers, extension experts, and practitioners to find solutions that can be rapidly adopted by the agricultural community. Critical problems impede efficient food and agricultural systems at local, regional, and national scales. Work supported by this federal investment enables partnerships and close coordination across the entire spectrum of food and agriculture on efforts to yield practices that meet pressing needs. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA invests $3.4 million to support expansion of gene-editing technology

NIFA recently awarded 12 Agricultural Innovation through Gene Editing Technology grants. These funded projects will help overcome technological barriers to the expansion of the use of gene-editing technology to agriculturally important organisms that are not currently amenable to genome editing techniques. One project focuses on use of gene-editing technology on plant-associated fungi; one focuses on plant-associated bacteria; three projects focus on animal systems; and seven will expand the technology to a wide variety of crop plants.

NIFA Invests $3.3 Million in Animal Well-being Program

NIFA recently awarded 10 animal well-being grants that advance research to understand how to better assess well-being in agricultural animals, while also identifying and lessening negative effects of stressors on farm animals. Enhancing the overall well-being of farm animals increases profitability and assures consumers that they have abundant, safe, nutritious, and affordable food animal products. These grants are a part of NIFA’s AFRI program.

Tweet of the Week

NIFA's national blueberry month tweet