NIFA Update - Sept. 17, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                 September 17, 2020

Making a Difference

Vermont farm image courtesy of Getty Images.

Vermont farm image courtesy of Getty Images.

Farm Biosecurity Education Goes Virtual with Discovery Learning Series

We are witnessing in real time the spread of a virulent, infectious diseases among the human population. Livestock and poultry are susceptible to infectious diseases as well, and the impacts can be devastating for anyone raising farm animals. The most effective strategy for protecting farm animal health is to prevent or reduce the chances of introducing a disease into a herd or flock.

A new virtual learning experience is helping youth in agriculture discover biosecurity, the preventative measures that protect farm animals from the spread of infectious diseases. The Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture (HFHA) Project’s Biosecurity Learning Module Series is for students in grades 6 to 12, FFA and 4-H participants, college students studying animal science, and other agriculturally related youth groups.

The goal for the modules is to create a new culture of biosecurity advocates. Focusing on youth can stimulate a “trickle-up” effect that will help influence the adoption of good habits by adult farmers. For more information, read the HFHA press release.

This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grant program, award number 2015-69004-23273.


From the Director

Dr. Parag Chitnis, Acting NIFA Director

NIFA Releases Projected FY21 RFA Publication Timeline

NIFA shared today the Projected RFA Publication Timeline for fiscal year (FY) 2021 for non-AFRI competitive programs. As requested by stakeholders in Project CAFÉ feedback, we are working to make this a more streamlined process. Keep in mind, these are target timelines only and are subject to change until the RFAs are published in The current list applies to new RFAs, continuations, directed and multi-year solicitations. Bookmark this list and check back often for updates as target dates draw near. A new notification will signal when AFRI RFAs are added to the schedule. If you have any questions regarding this timeline, please contact the NPL with the associated program or email


NIFA Awards Over $10.7 Million to Support Hispanic-Serving Institutions’ Ag Science Programs. Photo of college student, courtesy of Getty Images.

NIFA Awards Over $10.7 Million to Support Hispanic-Serving Institutions’ Ag Science Programs

This competitive grant program is intended to promote and strengthen the ability of Hispanic Serving Institutions to conduct higher education programs in the food and agricultural sciences. This year, the Hispanic Serving Institutions Educational Grants Program included 26 new and four continuation grants supporting programs that will attract outstanding students and produce graduates capable of enhancing the nation's food and agricultural scientific and professional workforce.    “To create a reliable, sustainable food supply for the U.S. and the world, we need ideas and innovations from every part of our diverse society,” said Parag Chitnis, acting director of USDA-NIFA. “Ensuring our Hispanic Serving Institutions are prepared and able to reach this vital audience is a high priority for NIFA and for agriculture.” For more information, read the NIFA announcement.

Photo of college student, courtesy of Getty Images.

USDA graphic symbol

USDA Reminds of Available Resources for Ag Producers, Residents in the Wake of Hurricane Sally

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses in the path of Hurricane Sally that USDA has programs that provide assistance in the wake of disasters. In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center. This central source of information uses a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. For more information, read the USDA press release.

NIFA Flower Identifier

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:

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

News for You

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at University of Nebraska

Perdue Says Innovation, Collaboration Key to Agriculture’s Future

The future of U.S. agriculture is dependent upon research, innovation and collaboration, which together will lead to increased agricultural efficiency and sustainability, as well as development of foods designed to improve human health, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Sept. 4 during a visit to the Nebraska Innovation Campus. Perdue described the USDA’s Agricultural Innovation Agenda, which calls for the United States to increase agricultural production by 40% while cutting its environmental footprint in half by 2050. For more information, read the University of Nebraska article.

Harvest of potatoes. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

National Project Tackles Potato Virus Threats  

A University of Idaho-led team will tackle a pair of viruses that cause major losses to the potato industry according to a report released last week by Idaho’s land-grant university. U of I researcher and potato virus expert Alex Karasev will lead the project funded by a $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The team of two dozen scientists will target potato virus Y (PVY) and potato mop top virus (PMTV) in seed potatoes. The project involves seed improvement organizations nationally that certify seed potatoes are disease free. For more information, read the U of I news release.

Harvest of potatoes. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Award Announcements

NIFA Awards $4.4 Million for Agricultural Engineering

NIFA recently awarded 12 agricultural engineering research grants to advance precision and smart technologies. Research programs will focus on better water and fertilizer use, production energy efficiency, targeted pest management, engineering technologies that promote animal health, and reduce labor costs. New technology in agricultural production systems spur innovation in rural America and contribute to overall rural prosperity. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Awards over $1.6 Million for Rural Veterinary Services Across the U.S.  

NIFA recently awarded seven Veterinary Services Extension, Education, and Training grants totaling over $1.6M to: 1) Establish or expand accredited veterinary education programs, veterinary residency and fellowship programs, or veterinary internship and externship programs carried out in coordination with accredited colleges of veterinary medicine.; 2) Provide continuing education and extension, including veterinary telemedicine and other distance-based education, for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other health professionals needed to strengthen veterinary programs and enhance food safety and public health; and 3) To allow veterinary students, veterinary interns, externs, fellows, and  residents, and veterinary technician students to cover expenses of attending training programs in food safety, public health or food animal medicine. 

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