NIFA Update - August 31, 2022

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Editor:  Lori Tyler Gula, Ph.D.                                                                       August 31, 2022

Making a Difference NIFA graphic icon.backtoschool

SDSU Researchers Working to Fill Educational Gaps for Rural Students

In the United States, roughly one-sixth of all K-12 students attend rural school districts. These students face many challenges and are often hampered by both a lack of funding and resources. Two South Dakota State University researchers have begun working to help “fill in the gaps” that rural students might be missing in their education. In 2019, they were awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the Children, Youth and Families at Risk program through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and developed a project to address the needs of both rural youth and front-line professionals who work with youth.

Back to School graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

NIFA Webinars

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.


NEXTGEN Program Overview Webinar

NIFA will host a webinar Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. EDT for those interested in learning about program goals, eligibility, other requirements and resources available for USDA’s From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program (NEXTGEN). The goal of the NEXTGEN program is to enable institutions eligible under Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan, as amended by Section. 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act (Pub.L 117-169) to engage, recruit, retain, train and support students in order to help build and sustain the next generation of the food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences workforce including the future USDA and federal government workforce.

Eligible institutions for the NEXTGEN Program:

  • 1890 Land-grant Institutions (Historically Black Land-grant Universities)
  • 1994 Land-grant Institutions (Tribal Colleges and Universities)
  • Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions
  • Hispanic-serving Institutions (Certified Hispanic-serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities)
  • Insular Area institutions of Higher Education located in the U.S. territories.

DATE CHANGE: 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. 15 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.

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

View all NIFA scheduled webinars.

Application Deadlines

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $3.2M in Rural Food Animal Veterinary Medicine 

NIFA recently announced 20 Veterinary Service Grants Program (VSGP) awards comprising eight Education, Extension and Training (EET) grants and 12 Rural Practice Enhancement (RPE) grants to help mitigate food animal veterinary service shortages in the United States. The goals of the VSGP are to support food animal veterinary medicine through education, Extension and training (EET) funds for accredited schools and organizations and through rural practice enhancement (RPE) funds for veterinary clinics that provide services in veterinary shortage situation areas. Ultimately, VSGP will bolster the capacity of private veterinary practitioners to provide food animal medicine in rural veterinarian shortage locations.

Education, Extension, and Training (EET) awardees: American Association of Swine Veterinarians; Auburn University; Iowa State University of Science and Technology; Michigan State University; Mississippi State University; Northeast Community College; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension; and Texas Tech University.

Rural Practice Enhancement (RPE) Awardees: Apogee Animal Health, Inc., Sabetha, Kansas; Grand Coulee Veterinary Clinic, Grand Coulee, Washington; Hanel Veterinary Clinic, P.A., Courtland, Kansas; Lewis Mobile Veterinary Services, Jane Lew, West Virginia; Lundgren Veterinary Services, PLLC, Star, Idaho; Pioneer Animal Clinic, LLC, Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Practical Livestock Services PLLC, Casey, Iowa; Rohleder Veterinary Service, P.A., Hays, Kansas; Steptoe Veterinary Services, PC, Ely, Nevada; South Wind Animal Health LLC, Stafford, Kansas; Willowcreek Animal Hospital, PC, Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Yuma Veterinary Clinic, Yuma, Arizona.

NIFA Invests Over $2M in Service Learning Program Grants

NIFA has invested $2.4 million in 12 awards as part of the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program (FASLP) program. This program area priority supports programs intended to increase knowledge of agriculture and improve the nutritional health of low-income children, and to foster higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems, while developing leadership skills for K-12 students to prepare the next generation for agricultural and related careers.

FY 2022 Awardees: FoodCorps, Inc.; Friends of the National Arboretum; HealtHIE Georgia Corps; North Carolina State University; NY Sun Works; Old Grove Orange, Inc.; Pilot Light; Rural Action, Inc.; Sprouting Farms Corps; SUNY Oneonta; The International Rescue Committee; and University of South Florida.

Important Dates

Next-Generation Sustainable Technologies graphic

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.


New EXCITE Programming Opportunity

EXCITE has launched a new phase of programming opportunities to support adult immunization education beyond COVID-19 and increase vaccine confidence in Land-grant University Extension communities. This opportunity is open to all institutions, even those not currently involved with an EXCITE project. Anyone interested in participating or learning more about this opportunity is invited to the project introduction session Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. EDT. The project's elements, timelines and goals will be covered in this introductory session, and questions will be answered. Registration required.

EXCITE graphic, courtesy of EXCITE


Save the Date: 2023 National 4-H Conference

Mark your calendar for the 2023 National 4-H Conference, which will be held April 14-19, 2023, in person at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, and online. Deemed “the Secretary’s Conference,” this conference is the flagship youth development opportunity of USDA. Today, the conference remains true to its original intent to develop the next generation of leaders while continuing to be future focused. The conference brings together youths, volunteer leaders, county and state Extension staff, Land-grant University faculty and administrators, as well as state and federal government officials from across the United States and its territories. More information to follow.

2023 National 40H Conference graphic, courtesy of 4-H.

News From NIFA

morrill act

Celebrating the Second Morrill Act of 1890

On Aug. 30, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the Second Morrill Act of 1890 into law. Sponsored by Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont, the act’s goal was to expand the opportunities for people of color to access education, specifically in agriculture and mechanical arts. Prior to the Second Morrill Act, people of color were often excluded from educational opportunities at the Land-grant Universities established by the (first) Morrill Act of 1862. The Second Morrill Act required states to establish separate Land-grant Institutions for Black students or demonstrate that admission to the 1862 Land-grant was not restricted by race.

Second Morrill Act of 1890 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


Cotton Gene-Editing Project Paves a New Path for Plant Protection

Decades of collaborative research and scientific advancements have helped Texas cotton be the economic and industrial force it is today. Texas cotton production represents a $2.4 billion contribution to the state’s gross domestic product. From 2019 to 2021, Texas cotton producers averaged 6.2 million bales of cotton on 4.6 million harvested acres, generating $2.1 billion in production value. The Texas cotton industry supports more than 40,000 jobs statewide and $1.55 billion in annual labor income. Texas A&M AgriLife has a long-standing track record of teaming up with the cotton industry and federal agencies such as NIFA to solve some of the most pressing issues facing this important part of the Texas economy.

Rows of cotton being harvested. Credit: Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M AgriLife

lima bean

Researchers Identify Heat-Tolerant Crops and Test Mitigation Techniques to Help Vegetable Production

Broccoli is a fighter. Cauliflower is an endurance champion. When you see perfect produce lined up at the supermarket, do you think about what it takes for it to get there? With support from NIFA, researchers from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are working to find the most heat-tolerant vegetable varieties while testing solutions to mitigate stressors in the field and extend the growing season.

Heat stress, excessive rainfall and poor soil conditions can threaten marketable produce at every turn. Yet the scrappy lima bean finds a way to prevail.
Credit: Michele Walfred/University of Delaware

Ethnic crop growers are working with the Maryland Food Bank-Eastern Shore Branch.

UMES Extension, Maryland Food Bank Connect Farmers to Food Pantries to Provide Fresh Ethnic Crops

With support from NIFA, the Eastern Shore Branch of the Maryland Food Bank (MFB) and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Extension are involved in a pilot program this summer to provide fresh ethnic crops sought after by their clientele. At the same time, the partnership opens new opportunities and income to explore for Delmarva farmers facing rising costs.

Growers of ethnic crops are working with the Maryland Food Bank-Eastern Shore Branch. Credit: Todd Dudek, UMES Ag Communication

NIFA In the News

News from USDA

USDA graphic symbol

Biden-Harris Administration Invests $65M in Clean Water, Roads, Trails Improvement

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced more than $65 million of investments to help USDA’s Forest Service improve water quality, roads, trails and fish habitat nationwide. Made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today is the first round of a $25.5 million investment over five years through the new Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration Program and more than $40 million for Fiscal Year 2022 projects for the already successful Legacy Roads and Trails Program. The investments being announced will support projects that serve rural community needs, create jobs, and improve access to national forests and grasslands.

ag census

Census of Agriculture Coming This November

America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to be represented in the nation’s only comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state, county and territory. USDA will mail the 2022 Census of Agriculture to millions of agriculture producers across the 50 states and Puerto Rico this fall. Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840 and now conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census of Agriculture tells the story and shows the value of U.S. agriculture. It highlights land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, among other topics. Changes to the 2022 questionnaire include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep, and updates to internet access questions.

Tweet of the Week

tweet of week

Vineyard and winery owners across the state of Texas are being asked for the first time to contribute to a statewide crush report being compiled by Texas A&M AgriLife’s enology program to help gauge the grape and wine industry’s status.








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LinkedIn Post of the Week

Dr. Poonam Sharma

This month NIFA is highlighting NIFA-funded researchers who are creating more and better markets for producers and consumers. Get know Dr. Poonam Sharma, research assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, and her work. And remember to follow us on LinkedIn.