NIFA Update - Sept. 14, 2022

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Editor:  Lori Tyler Gula, Ph.D.                                                                September 14, 2022

Making a Difference NIFA graphic icon.Dr. Hao Chen (right), assistant professor, is part of a team courtesy of University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Dr. Hao Chen (right), assistant professor for the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Department of Agriculture, is part of a team studying the unique features of biochar made from animal byproducts to optimize its manufacture methods and desired functions. Photo courtesy of University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Capacity-building Grants Program Sees 25 Years of Impact at 1890 LGUs

NIFA partners with a system of 19 universities known collectively as 1890 Land-grant Universities (LGUs) to provide agricultural research, Extension and education programs. A cornerstone NIFA program designed to strengthen the capacity of 1890 LGUs is the 1890 Capacity-building Grants program. This program awards grants annually that address key problems of national, regional and multi-institutional importance in sustaining all components of agriculture, including farm efficiency and profitability; ranching; renewable energy; forestry (both urban and agroforestry); aquaculture; rural communities and entrepreneurship; human nutrition; food safety; family and consumer sciences; biotechnology; and conventional breeding. Authorized in the 1996 Farm Bill, funds were first appropriated in 1997. This month, 1890 LGUs will submit their latest round of funding applications, marking 25 years of the CBG program

Funding Opportunities

Three college students, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals (NEXTGEN)

The primary goal of the From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program (NEXTGEN) is to enable 1890 Institutions, 1994 Institutions, Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions, Hispanic-serving Institutions and insular area institutions of higher education located in the U.S. territories to build and sustain the next generation of the food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences workforce. This includes the future USDA workforce, primarily through providing student scholarship support, meaningful paid internships, fellowships and job opportunity matching, and facilitating opportunities to learn the processes and pathways leading to training and employment in the federal sector.

Three college students, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NIFA Webinars

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Sept. 15: Veterinary Shortage Situation Nominations Webinar for State Animal Health Officials Webinar, 3 p.m. EDT.

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Application Deadlines

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests Nearly $34M to Help Boost Organic Farming and Ranching

NIFA has invested nearly $34 million in 28 grants in FY 2022 that support farmers and ranchers who grow and market high-quality organic food, fiber and other products through two programs in NIFA’s organic agriculture portfolio: the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG). Eighteen OREI grants help fund research, education and Extension projects to improve yields, quality and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. Ten ORG grants support research, education and Extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.

FY 2022 OREI awardees: Colorado State University (two awards), Cornell University, Kansas State University, Lincoln University of Missouri, Mandaamin Institute, Inc., NY Agricultural Experiment Station, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, University of California - Santa Cruz, University of Florida (two awards), University of Illinois, University of Maine, University of Tennessee, USDA-ARS, and Washington State University.

FY 2022 ORG awardees: Clemson University, Cornell University, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, University of Florida, University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc., University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Tennessee and West Virginia University.

NIFA Invests $5.7M in American Rescue Plan Act GusNIP FY22 Produce Prescription Project Enhancement

NIFA has invested $5.7 million in 12 awards as part of the GusNIP Produce Prescription Program (PPR). The awards are part of the USDA American Rescue Plan Act funding. The Produce Prescription Program supports projects that demonstrate and evaluate the impact of fresh fruit and vegetable prescriptions. The goals of the program are to increase procurement and consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduce individual and household food insecurity, and reduce healthcare usage and associated costs. These PPR project enhancement awards provide additional funding to existing produce prescription projects to add to their original scope of work by expanding the reach, breadth and diversity of individuals currently participating in the project.

FY 2022 awardees: Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Inc., North Carolina; Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado Foundation; Corbin Hill Food Project, New York; Delta Health Alliance, Mississippi; Forsyth Farmers’ Market, Georgia; New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association; Parkview Hospital, Inc., Indiana; Recipe4Health Alameda County, California; Share Our Strength Washington, D.C.; Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Alaska; Wholesome Wave Foundation Charitable Ventures, Inc.; and Williamson Health and Wellness Center, West Virginia.

NIFA Invests $2.4M in Plant Biotic Interactions

NIFA has invested $2.4 million in two projects as part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Plant Biotic Interactions program. The program supports mechanistic research on the processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. Research may focus on the biology of the plant host, its pathogens, pests or symbionts, interactions among these, or on the function of plant-associated microbiomes. This joint National Science Foundation - NIFA program supports research that can be basic, applied or both.

The August 2022 awardees are Indiana University and Pennsylvania State University.

NIFA Invests $972K in Supplemental and Alternative Crops

NIFA has invested $972,000 in three projects as part of the Supplemental and Alternative Crops (SAC) program. This program supports projects that lead to expanded adaptation and increased acreage in the United States of canola grown for oil and industrial hemp grown for value-added products. The SAC program supports the breeding, testing and development of high-performing canola and industrial hemp varieties and production practices that result in improved cost efficiencies, reduced grower risks and wider use in production systems.

FY 2022 awardees: North Dakota State University, Michigan State University, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

NIFA Invests $960K in Open Data Framework Program

NIFA has invested $960,000 in one project as part of the Open Data Framework program. This program aims to build a framework needed to create a neutral and secure data repository and cooperative where producers, universities and nonprofit entities can store and share data in ways that foster agricultural innovation and support technological progress, production efficiencies and environmental stewardship.

FY 2022 awardee: University of Nebraska.

Upcoming Events

EXCITE Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement graphic.

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 Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement graphic.

White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health graphic.

Ending Hunger, Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity, and Reducing Diet-Related Diseases and Disparity

On Sept. 28, the Biden-Harris Administration will host the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. The Administration will also release a National Strategy with actions the federal government will take to drive solutions to these challenges. Our goal: End hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so that fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health graphic.

News from NIFA

National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Celebrating National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week

This week is National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week, an opportunity to celebrate Hispanic-serving Institutions that serve a critical role in improving access to education and advancing equity to underserved students. At NIFA, the Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out higher education programs to attract, retain and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation's food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences professional and scientific work force. This grant program aligns the efforts of HSIs to support academic development and career attainment of underrepresented groups.

National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Read more about the impacts of NIFA-funded research and Extension programs on our Blogs page.

Impact of NIFA-Funded Research and Outreach

The UAPB study abroad program to Ghana featured a range of cultural excursions, one of which was to the Bonwire Kente Village, courtesy of UAPB.

UAPB Study Abroad Program Brings Students from Three 1890 Universities to Ghana

A University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) initiative supported by NIFA recently gave students from UAPB, North Carolina A&T State University and Tennessee State University the chance to travel to the western African country of Ghana. The study abroad program allowed students from the three historically Black universities to learn about agricultural topics and familiarize themselves with the history, culture and people of Ghana.

The UAPB study abroad program to Ghana featured a range of cultural excursions, one of which was to the Bonwire Kente Village, where the participants learned about the production of handwoven, traditional kente cloth. From left: Dr. Benjamin Annor, Annette Fields, Lyric Armstrong, Jeremiah Pouncy, Jai Lewis, Dr. Nina Lyon Bennett, Dr. Emmanuel Asiamah, and Allison Malone, courtesy of UAPB.

Tuber eburneum, courtesy of Rosanne Healy-UF.

UF Scientists Discover Two New Truffle Species

With support from NIFA, scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have discovered two new species of truffles from North America. One species was found in Iowa, the other in Florida. There are hundreds of species of fungi that form truffles, each of which have important ecological roles. Only a few truffle species are used for human consumption.

Tuber eburneum, courtesy of Rosanne Healy-UF.

The Healthier Together community garden in Calhoun, Georgia, courtesy of Healthier Together Calhoun.

Healthier Together Program Helped Participant Lose 100 Pounds

When Healthier Together Calhoun launched in 2017, the mission was simple – help county residents live healthier lives by improving access to healthy foods and physical activity. But Calhoun County resident Mark Strickland wasn’t convinced. “These were pie in the sky dreams and when we first started, I thought there was no way this is going to ever do anything,” said Strickland. “I was wrong.” Through participating in Healthier Together, Strickland lost over 100 pounds in the last two years. Healthier Together partners faculty and students at the University of Georgia (UGA) and NIFA-supported UGA Extension with the community to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity.

The Healthier Together community garden in Calhoun, Georgia,
courtesy of Healthier Together Calhoun.

NIFA In the News

News from USDA

Ag Census Counts graphic, courtesy of NASS.

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.

Ag Census Counts graphic, courtesy of NASS.


NRCS Seeks Research Proposals for $15M Conservation Innovation Grants Classic Program

USDA recently announced that it has allocated $15 million this year for the Conservation Innovation Grants Classic Program, which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This year’s funding priorities are climate-smart agriculture, addressing invasive species and conservation in urban agricultural systems. Visit to learn more about the funding opportunity.

News from The White House

President Biden to Launch a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative

On September 12, President Biden signed an Executive Order to launch a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative that will ensure we can make in the United States all that we invent in the United States. This Initiative will create jobs at home, build stronger supply chains and lower prices for American families. On September 14, the White House hosted a Summit on the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative during which cabinet agencies announced a wide range of new investments and resources that will allow the U.S. to harness the full potential of biotechnology and biomanufacturing and advance the President’s Executive Order. 

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week Sept. 14 - New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station

Over the years, the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire has engaged in and led critical research within New Hampshire into such areas as agriculture and aquaculture, dairy and crop science, farm management, nutrition and forestry.


LinkedIn Post of the Week

Employee Spotlight Merardo Cruz

Meet Merardo Cruz

Merardo serves as a management analyst in NIFA's Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. "I believe that agricultural sustainability will be one of the core issues of the future, as much as it is in our modern times. The need to feed our nation, particularly those of lower financial recourses, continues to be a daily challenge. Therefore, I believe in the mission of NIFA, the agency has a strong incentive in ensuring that all of the families in our country have access to nutritious and affordable sustenance." – Merardo