NIFA Update - Aug. 24, 2022

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Editor:  Lori Tyler Gula, Ph.D.                                                                       August 24, 2022

Making a Difference NIFA graphic icon.National Red Wine Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

National Red Wine Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Oregon State Researchers Discover Compounds Contributing to Smoke Taint in Wine and Grapes

With funding from NIFA, an Oregon State University-led research team has discovered a class of compounds that contributes to smoke taint in wine and grapes. “This is critically important for winemakers who are increasingly dealing with the impact of wildfire smoke on their grapes,” said Elizabeth Tomasino, an associate professor of enology at Oregon State. “It provides them markers that are much more predictive of smoke taint in wine than we previously had.”

NIFA Webinars

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program FY 2023 Informational Webinar

The Community Food Projects competitive program supports projects that work across the food system to increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their food needs; and promotes comprehensive responses to local food access, farm and nutrition issues, including strategies to reduce food waste and other agricultural needs that mutually benefit agricultural producers and consumers. NIFA will host an informational webinar Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. EDT for those interested in the Community Food Projects competitive grant program. The webinar will discuss how to use NIFA resources and prepare a competitive application, adhering to the Fiscal Year 2023 Request for Applications guidelines. Join the webinar.

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Veterinary Shortage Situation Nominations Webinar for State Animal Health Officials A panel discussion of best practices and lessons learned from NIFA staff and select State Animal Health Officials for how veterinary shortage situation areas are identified will be held Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. EDT. Additionally, NIFA staff will discuss how the nominations are used by both applicants and awardees of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Veterinary Services Grant Program. 

View all NIFA scheduled webinars.

Application Deadlines

Funding Opportunity

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USDA Announces Up to $550M Million in American Rescue Plan Funding for Projects Benefiting Underserved Producers and Minority-serving Institutions 

USDA has announced up to $550 million in funding to support projects that enable underserved producers to access land, capital and markets, and train the next, diverse generation of agricultural professionals. These investments are made through funding provided in the American Rescue Plan Act Section 1006, as amended by Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act. These provisions fund and direct USDA to take action to help ensure underserved producers have the resources, tools, programs, and technical support they need to succeed. 

As part of the USDA funding, NIFA is investing a $250 million in the next generation of diverse food and agricultural professionals. The primary purpose of the From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program is to enable minority-serving institutions to build and sustain the next generation of the food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences workforce, including the future USDA workforce, primarily through providing student scholarship support, meaningful paid internships, fellowships, and job opportunity matching; and also facilitating opportunities to learn the processes and pathways leading to training and employment in the federal sector. Closing date: Oct. 25.  

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $5M to Enhance Infectious Disease Research

NIFA has invested $5 million in two projects as part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program, a collaborative program with the National Science Foundation that supports quantitative and computational research leading to fundamental understandings of infectious disease processes from evolution of virulence and resistance to the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on disease transmission and spread. FY 2022 Awardees: Oregon State University ($2,500,000) and University of Wisconsin ($2,500,000).

NIFA Invests Over $462K in Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program

NIFA has invested over $462,000 in four projects as part of the Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program. The program supports innovative, education-based approaches to address disaster preparedness and specific responses related to disasters or disaster threats caused by natural, human-made, or technological hazards, or by other factors that contribute to the exposure or vulnerability of a community. FY 2022 Awardees: Auburn University ($150,000); University of Maryland, College Park ($106,963); Michigan State University, East Lansing ($55,780.61); and Mississippi State University, Mississippi State ($150,000).

Important Dates

Next-Generation Sustainable Technologies graphic, courtesy of North Carolina A&T State University.

National Conference on Next-Generation Sustainable Technologies for Small-Scale Producers

North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) will host a National Conference on Next-Generation Sustainable Technologies for Small-Scale Producers Sept. 7 - 9 at its Alumni Foundation Event Center. The conference is a collaboration between the university, NIFA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Registration has been extended to Aug. 31.  Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

Next-Generation Sustainable Technologies graphic, courtesy of NCA&T.

USDA Announces the Second Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold the second virtual USDA Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. EDT. The fair will showcase the latest food loss and waste mitigation technologies, innovations and programs developed by USDA, academic institutions, local governments and businesses.

Federal Register Notice

Virtual Public Meeting: Antimicrobial Resistance and One Health

USDA will hold a public meeting to share what the department has learned in furthering scientific knowledge on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the last decade with a look to the future. The meeting Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. EDT will be open to the public via Zoom and teleconference. A preregistered public comment session will be held during the meeting. Written comments, specifically highlighting what has been learned and challenges for furthering science on AMR across the One Health interfaces of food safety, animal and human health, and the environment are welcome. The public may submit written comments until September 13.

News From NIFA

National Potato Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Multistate Research Efforts Benefit the Humble Potato

Potatoes are the most widely grown and consumed vegetable in the United States. Potatoes’ popularity is a result of their versatility and affordability, as well as being a tasty and nutrient-dense food choice.  In 2020, U.S. potato production was valued at about $3.65 billion. While per acre yield has trended up over the last several years, challenges such as climate change, diseases and pests threatened both potato yields and quality. Supported by funding from NIFA, research at Land-grant Universities is helping to ensure we have plenty of potatoes.

National Potato Day graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Read more about the impacts of NIFA-funded research — and the scientists who make it happen — on our Blogs page.

Impact of NIFA-Funded Research and Outreach

Maryland 4-H test pilot Kayson Verardi takes the underwater ROV for an inaugural test-courtesy of Maryland 4-H/UMD.

Flying Underwater Towards STEM Careers

Imagine gliding beneath the waves of the Chesapeake Bay to catch a glimpse of the underwater communities of shellfish, their habitats and how well they’re thriving. Through robotics, Maryland 4-H students will soon be able to make this underwater exploration possible. On the horizon is a fun new collaboration at the University of Maryland (UMD) that will give students the skills to build and “fly” their own underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), while learning about sustainable aquaculture, developing their interests in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and growing potential career paths for the future.

Maryland 4-H test pilot Kayson Verardi takes the underwater ROV for an inaugural test run with his father, Josh Bollinger, communications coordinator for the Hughes Center for Agroecology, and Dr. Allen Patillo (right), lead PI on the S3AM aquaculture project.
Photo courtesy of Maryland 4-H/UMD.

The tiny fathead minnow is capable of handling high temperatures, courtesy of the University of Illinois.

Illinois Study Suggests the Humble Minnow Can Take the Heat(wave)

Humans aren’t the only ones suffering through unprecedented heatwaves in a warming climate. Consider the humble minnow. These tiny fish represent the all-important base of the food chain in many freshwater ecosystems. And like all fish, minnows adjust their body temperature to match their surroundings. A new NIFA-funded University of Illinois study shows the fathead minnow, a ubiquitous prey fish in North American streams, can handle simulated heatwaves with surprisingly few nasty side effects. Exposure to heatwaves actually primed minnows to withstand higher temperatures in a critical thermal maximum test.

The tiny fathead minnow is an important prey species for larger sport fish. New research shows it's capable of handling high temperatures during heatwaves.
Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois.

Peanut butter and chocolate dessert, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Solving the Sticky, Microbial Mess of Cleanup in Peanut Butter Factories

Recently published NIFA-funded research from food scientist Lynne McLandsborough at the University of Massachusetts Amherst describes a novel, water-free method of cleaning machinery for processing peanut butter and chocolate, reducing the high risk for Salmonella contamination. Researchers found that using peanut oil mixed with acetic acid at a concentration about half that of household vinegar and applying heat was an effective cleaning and disinfecting method.

Peanut butter and chocolate dessert, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NIFA In the News

News from USDA

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USDA to Invest up to $300M in New Organic Transition Initiative 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced details of USDA’s $300 million investment, including with American Rescue Plan funds, in a new Organic Transition Initiative that will help build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers and producers. Organic production allows producers to hold a unique position in the marketplace and thus take home a greater share of the food dollar.

USDA Invests $121 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh has announced USDA is investing $121 million in critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities.

USDA Begins Accepting Applications for $100M in Biofuel Infrastructure Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is accepting applications for $100 million in grants to increase the sale and use of biofuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week-Aug 24 2022- Coral reef ecosystems UFFAS

Coral reef ecosystems are severely threatened by pollution, disease, and overharvesting. For thousands of years, long-spined sea urchins helped keep reefs intact which is why University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences scientists aim to enhance urchin populations. Stay in the know about NIFA-supported research and outreach by following us on Twitter.

LinkedIn Post of the Week

Dr. Esmaeil Amiri, assistant professor at Mississippi State University

In celebration of World Honey Bee Day, NIFA is highlighting researcher Dr. Esmaeil Amiri, assistant professor at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center. And remember to follow us on LinkedIn.