NIFA Update - Oct. 7, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                     October 7, 2020

Making a Difference

Methane measured from the animal’s mouth and nose. Photo courtesy of Nicolas DiLorenzo.

Scientists Work to Cut Greenhouse Gases, One Cow Burp at a Time

When you first learn that cows produce methane, a greenhouse gas, you might assume it comes from the animal’s rear end. But you would be wrong. “Methane is generated in an organ called the rumen, which is the first of the cow’s ‘four stomachs,’” said Nicolas DiLorenzo, a researcher at the University of Florida who studies methane production in cattle. “The rumen is quite close to the cow’s mouth, so the mouth is the closest exit. Therefore, the cow releases this methane by burping.” For several decades, researchers have been looking for ways to reduce the methane produced in the rumen. Now new research by DiLorenzo and others shows that a small change to cattle’s diets reduced the animals’ methane emissions by 11 percent. These findings are a step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. The study received funding support from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. For more information, read the University of Florida article.

Two AFRI projects are associated with the article.

Photo courtesy of Nicolas DiLorenzo..


Image of farmer family, courtesy of Getty Images.

NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Many opportunities exist in farming and ranching in America, yet beginning farmers and ranchers have unique needs for education, training, technical assistance, and outreach. For those within their first 10 years of operation, it’s vital to have capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist with achieving profitability and sustainability. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) provides competitive grants to organizations and institutions for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. Each year, project proposals are solicited through an official Request for Applications posted on NIFA’s website as soon as it's available. For more information, read the NIFA article.

Image of farmer family, courtesy of Getty Images.

NIFA, Cooperative Extension and APLU Award image

USDA, Cooperative Extension & APLU Award Top Honors in Extension Excellence and Diversity

Recognizing visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced that Jamie Ellis of the University of Florida will receive the 2020 Excellence in Extension Award, and the University of Missouri’s 4-H Center for Youth Development will receive the National Extension Diversity Award. USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991. The awards will be presented virtually on October 28. For more information, read the APLU news release.

Time and Effort, stopwatch graphic courtesy of Getty Images.

Updated Time and Effort Reporting

NIFA has updated its Time and Effort reporting Fact Sheet to align it with the requirements of Section 7613 of the Farm Bill and assure compliance with Uniform Guidance. The Fact Sheet contains general background, common findings, and best practices. Specific questions concerning Time and Effort reporting should be addressed to

Graphic courtesy of Getty Images.

Small Business Innovation Research Program Updates

As part of The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, SBIR awardees can request additional funding for Technical and Business Assistance (TABA). Awardees are permitted to enter into agreements with one or more vendors to provide TABA services including but not limited to: Intellectual Property (IP) support, customer discovery, market assessment, business strategies, manufacturing plan development. TABA funds may not be used for research and development (R&D) activities that are otherwise supported by the grant funds.

Applicants can request up to an additional $6,500 for Phase I and up to $50,000 for Phase II for TABA services. Phase I grant recipients have two options for receiving TABA: (1) utilize services provided by a USDA vendor or (2) identify their own TABA provider. If you wish to receive TABA from a USDA-funded vendor, you do not need to include this expense in your budget. If you are awarded a Phase I grant, you will receive notification from USDA and follow-up contact from the USDA-funded vendor on what services are available to you and how to obtain these services at no cost to your small business. If you wish to utilize your own TABA provider, you are required to include this as “Other Direct Costs” in your budget, provide a detailed budget justification, and a signed letter of commitment from the provider. Phase II grant recipients must select their own TABA vendor and include the requested TABA amount in their budget as “Other Direct Costs”, along with providing a detailed budget justification and signed letter of commitment from the vendor. Note that the TABA vendor may not be the requesting firm, an affiliate of the requesting firm, an investor of the requesting firm, or a subcontractor or consultant of the requesting firm otherwise required as part of the paid portion of the research effort.

Electing to use TABA will not take away from a company’s R&D budget; rather it is in addition to the USDA SBIR grant and can only be used for TABA services.


TABA Funds

 Vendor Options

 Include costs in budget?

 Max Budget

Phase I


 1.  USDA vendor

 2.  Company preferred vendor

 1.  No

 2.  Yes

 1.  $100,000

 2.  $106,500

Phase II


 1.  Company preferred vendor

 1.  Yes

 1.   $650,000


USDA’s TABA vendor for Phase I is LARTA Institute. You can learn more about LARTA online. For questions regarding TABA, contact

News for You

Charles M. Rice

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020  

This year’s Nobel Prize is awarded to three scientists who have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world. Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice (pictured, left) made seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus, Hepatitis C virus. Prior to their work, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases remained unexplained. The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives. (Dr. Rice, Rockefeller University, NYC, is also an awardee in USDA-NIFA’s Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit interagency program for his work studying Hepatitis C virus, using horses as a model.) For more information, read the Nobel Prize article.

USDA Message

Photo courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.

Transparent Wood Could Be the Window of the Future

Could looking through trees be the view to a greener future? Trees replacing the clear pane glass in your windows is not a work of science fiction. It’s happening now. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researcher Junyong Zhu in co-collaboration with colleagues from the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, have developed a transparent wood material that may be the window of tomorrow. Researchers found that transparent wood has the potential to outperform glass currently used in construction in nearly every way. For more information, read the USDA blog.

Research work at the Forest Products Lab on using wood to create transparent windows is making great strides. Photo courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $4.8 million in Community Food Systems

NIFA recently awarded 18 Community Foods Program grants. The Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program has existed since 1996 as a program to fight food insecurity through developing community food projects that help promote the self-sufficiency of low-income communities. Community Food Projects are designed to increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.

NIFA Invests $4.8 Million in Research Equipment Grants

NIFA recently awarded 17 Research Equipment Grants to increase access to shared-use special purpose equipment/instruments for fundamental and applied research for use in the food and agricultural sciences programs at institutions of higher education. NIFA’s Equipment Grants Program strengthens the quality and expands the scope of fundamental and applied research at eligible institutions, by providing them with opportunities to acquire one major piece of equipment/instruments that support their research, training, and extension goals and may be too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NIFA grant programs.

NIFA Invests $960,000 in Food and Agriculture Service-Learning Grants

NIFA recently awarded five Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program Grants. The purpose of the Food and Agriculture Service-Learning Program is to increase the knowledge of agricultural science and improve the nutritional health of children. The program’s goal is to increase the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems by bringing together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system.

Tweet of the Week

NIFA Tweets- Congratulations to Dr. Sureshwaran for winning NARRU_Ag's 2020 Distinguished Service Award!