NIFA Update - Oct. 5, 2022

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Editor:  Lori Tyler Gula, Ph.D.                                                                     October 5, 2022

Making a Difference NIFA graphic icon.NIFA National 4-H Week graphic.

NIFA National 4-H Week graphic.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Proclaims
October 2 - 8 as National 4-H Week 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has proclaimed October 2 - 8 as National 4-H Week! You can read and download the Proclamation on National 4-H Week, 2022 - United States Department of Agriculture. 4-H engages, enables and empowers more than 6 million young people every day, and this year’s annual 4-H Week is celebrating access and equity for all youths.

What is now known as National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II. Following Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone holding the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C. Soon after, 4-H leaders in Ohio announced their plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week, focusing on what 4-H members could do for national defense. The idea was embraced by 4-H leaders nationwide and evolved into National 4-H Mobilization Week, which was observed in 1942, 1943 and 1944. 

Beginning in 1945, and every year since, it has been known as National 4-H Week. Initially held in the spring, since 1968 it has been observed the first full week of October, beginning with the first Sunday. At its start, the purpose of National 4-H Week was to acquaint the public with the 4-H program, encourage more youth participation, urge more adults to volunteer as 4-H leaders, recognize and strengthen the parental support of 4-H efforts, report recent accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.

Each year, a national theme is selected, around which the week’s activities are focused. The 2022 theme is #Opportunity4All. NIFA is celebrating all week long with a variety of events and social media campaigns. Learn more about NIFA’s 4-H Week celebration.

NIFA Webinars

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Center of Excellence for Meat and Poultry Processing and Food Safety Research and Innovation Technical Assistance Webinar

NIFA staff will hold a webinar on October 12 at 2 p.m. EDT to discuss the Center of Excellence for Meat and Poultry Processing and Food Safety Research and Innovations program (AFRI A1731). This is a new program area priority within the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and will incorporate basic and applied science with engineering in meat and poultry processing, and food safety-related disciplines to promote technological innovation and lower barriers to entry for the industry. Registration required.

Webinar graphic, courtesy of NIFA.

Application Deadlines

Youth-related Funding Opportunities Snapshot 

NIFA offers a variety of funding opportunities relating to youth development and education, including two opportunities that are currently accepting applications. Applications are being accepted through October 27.  

  • The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development program focuses on developing the next generation of research, education and Extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. Currently, NIFA requests applications to support: 
    • professional development opportunities for K-14 educational professionals
    • non-formal education that cultivates food and agricultural interest in youths 
    • workforce training at community, junior and technical colleges
    • training of undergraduate students in research and Extensionf
    • fellowships for predoctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars
    • special workforce development topics

Applications are being accepted through October 27

  • 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 will be done 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. NEXTGEN applications are being accepted through November 15

Additional Deadlines

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests Nearly $70M in Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grants

NIFA has invested nearly $70 million in 25 awards as part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program. SCRI addresses the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and Extension that address key challenges of national, regional and multistate importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems.

FY 2022 awardees: Hawaii Agriculture Research Center; Michigan State University; Mississippi State University; New Mexico State University; The Ohio State University; Oregon State University; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Texas A&M University (two awards); University of Arkansas; University of California, Davis (three awards); University of Florida (three awards); University of Georgia; University of Idaho (two awards); University of Minnesota; University of Wisconsin–Madison (two awards); USDA Agricultural Research Service; and Washington State University (two awards).

NIFA Invests $4M in Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions of Higher Education

NIFA has invested $4 million in four awards as part of the Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions of Higher Education program. The purpose of this program is to promote and strengthen the ability of Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions to carry out education, applied research and related community development programs. NIFA intends this program to address educational needs, as determined by each institution, within a broadly defined arena of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines. FY 2022 awardees: University of Alaska Fairbanks-Interior Alaska Campus, University of Hawaii at Manoa (2 awards), and University of Hawaii-Maui College.

NIFA Invests $916K in Plant Biotic Interactions

NIFA has invested $916,000 in an award to Oklahoma State University as part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Plant Biotic Interactions program. This AFRI program area priority 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.


In last week’s issue, we incorrectly identified a collaborator in the FY 2022 Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative award. This award funds a seed grant program — to be coordinated through Iowa State University, the University of Nebraska and the University of Idaho — that will stimulate innovation and expand knowledge concerning genomes and phenomes of importance to the agriculture sector of the United States.

Federal Register Notice

Federal Register graphic logo.

Notice of Intent to Reinstate and Revise a Previously Approved Information Collection

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations, this notice announces the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) intention to reinstate and revise a previously approved information collection titled Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Survey. This information collection replaces an expired information collection titled Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

Federal Register graphic logo.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

4-H Day at the USDA Farmers Market

Come celebrate 4-H Day at the USDA Farmers Market Friday, October 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. NIFA staff members will be joined by 4-H'ers from Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, as well as National 4-H Council. Located outside the USDA Headquarters on the corner of Independence Avenue and 12th Street SW, join exhibitors for interactive activities and 4-H information while shopping with farmers market vendors. 4-H alums, wear green!

Upcoming events graphic, courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

NIFA Listening Session for Stakeholder Input to Science Priorities

As part of NIFA’s stakeholder listening initiative, “NIFA Listening Session for Stakeholder Input to Science Priorities,” NIFA is accepting input from stakeholders regarding the agency's research, Extension and education priorities Wednesday, November 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. This initiative supports NIFA’s mission of investing in and advancing agricultural research, Extension and education to solve societal challenges. For the purpose of this opportunity, agriculture is defined broadly and includes research, Extension and education in food, fiber, forestry, range, nutritional and social sciences, including food safety and positive youth development. NIFA's investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global pre-eminence of U.S. agriculture in food and agriculture.

Webinar: Hatch Integrated Multistate Research Project on Tourism Resilience and Community Sustainability, October 20 at 3 p.m. EDT | Register

NIFA 2023 National 4-H Conference Save the Date graphic.

Save the Date - National 4-H Conference

Mark your calendars for the 2023 National 4-H Conference, being held April 14-19 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, and online. NIFA offers a variety of leadership positions for 4-Hers to participate in the conference, including as Collegiate Facilitators and Youth Leadership Team members. Visit our website to download job descriptions and applications.

NIFA 2023 National 4-H Conference Save the Date graphic.

News from NIFA

Dr. Carol Benesh 

Dr. Carol Benesh to be Inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame

Dr. Carol Benesh will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievement and contributions to 4-H. Honored by USDA NIFA, Dr. Benesh is one of 16 to be inducted during the ceremony at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be streamed live Friday, October 7 at 2 p.m. EDT.

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

Impact of NIFA-Funded Research and Outreach

A damaged tree following a hurricane, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Spotting Scams After the Storm

After disasters sweep through an area, an unfortunate reality usually follows: fraudulent offers of funding and/or services to those regaining their bearings in the first hours, days and weeks of recovery. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent says the best defense against scammers is to be cautious when approached by those who offer help.

A damaged tree following a hurricane, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Holstein cows eating pasture grass at an organic grass-fed dairy farm, courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.

Grass-Fed Organic Dairy Management May Be Key to Sector’s Resilience in New England

The U.S. organic dairy market is experiencing a major shift. After expanding during the 2000s and 2010s, U.S. sales of organic milk have dropped steadily the past 5 years — by 2.3% in 2022 alone — and prices declined by 25% between 2017 and 2022, according to data from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The slump is largely due to the market mismatch between the growing organic milk production and lower demand for all dairy milk in the U.S. However, challenges for New Hampshire’s small organic dairy farms have been exacerbated by increasing feed costs and large organic milk processors recently transitioning to purchasing more milk from larger dairy operations in other U.S. regions. Despite these challenges, a University of New Hampshire researcher says New England organic dairy farmers can increase their sustainability and market competitiveness through innovation in their management strategies.

Holstein cows eating pasture grass at an organic grass-fed dairy farm,
courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.

Grazing management, courtesy of North Dakota State University.

Fall Grazing Management Influences Forage Production

Dry conditions are common across most of North Dakota, with most areas receiving below normal precipitation over the last two months. This, in combination with above average temperatures, is impacting the condition of pastures across the state. Currently, the majority of pastures in the state are reported as being in fair or lower condition. According to North Dakota State University Extension, grazing management in the fall can have significant impacts on forage production during the subsequent growing season.

Grazing management in the fall can have significant impacts on forage production during the subsequent growing season, courtesy of North Dakota State University.

NIFA In the News

News from USDA

Hurricane Fiona, courtesy of the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center.

USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Hurricane Fiona

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed USDA to aid recovery efforts for farmers, ranchers and residents affected by Hurricane Fiona. USDA staff in offices across the country are ready to respond with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to producers and communities in need. Hurricane Fiona caused widespread impacts along its path, in particular in Puerto Rico, which saw its worst flooding since Hurricane Maria in 2017, and island-wide power outages, which continue in many areas.

Hurricane Fiona, courtesy of the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center.

Ag Census Counts graphic, courtesy of NASS.

Census of Agriculture Coming This November

Check your mailbox: USDA will mail the 2022 Census of Agriculture to millions of agriculture producers across the 50 United State and Puerto Rico this fall. 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.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week Oct 5 2022 – 4-H week

Since 4-H began more than 100 years ago, it has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. 4-H serves youths in rural, urban and suburban communities in every state across the nation.

LinkedIn Post of the Week

Meet 4-H alum Keesha Corbin

Meet Keesha Corbin, who serves as a program specialist within NIFA's Institute of Youth Family and Community, Division of Youth and 4-H. “I grew up in a rural area that had few positive youth development activities or opportunities. While my quaint little town did have a 4-H program, the program was generally marketed toward those who were involved in the FFA organization. Through my position with NIFA’s Division of Youth and 4-H, I would like to work to ensure that all young people have access to positive youth development programs regardless of their community type or intent to pursue a career in the agricultural field.”