NIFA Update - Oct. 19, 2022

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Editor:  Lori Tyler Gula, Ph.D.                                                                     October 19, 2022

Making a Difference NIFA graphic icon.Boxwood with boxwood blight, courtesy of Oregon State University.

Boxwood with boxwood blight, courtesy of Oregon State University.

Virginia Tech-Led Group that Researched Means to Curb Boxwood Blight Wins USDA Award

The Boxwood Blight Insight Group (BBIG) was awarded a Partnership Award from NIFA in the Program Improvement through Global Engagement Category. The group of researchers and collaborators from across the country, with partners around the world, was led by Chuan Hong, plant pathology professor at Virginia Tech. The group studied the emerging destructive disease of boxwood blight, which has destroyed entire crops, resulting in significant economic losses for garden centers and production facilities, as well as many historic boxwood plantings.

From the Director

Dr. Dionne Toombs Acting Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

At NIFA, we invest in and advance agricultural research, education and Extension to solve challenges facing our nation and world. Achieving that mission would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our partner institutions and visionary leaders across the nation who are committed to achieving these goals with us.

Thousands of NIFA-supported programs are turning research into action – bringing groundbreaking discoveries from research laboratories to farms, communities and classrooms. These programs are doing valuable and important work.

Recently, NIFA hosted a celebration recognizing our partners at the Land-grant Universities and other cooperating institutions and organizations who have achieved truly outstanding successes through their NIFA-supported programs. The successes we have witnessed over the last few years are a testament to the hard work and diligence of our partners. Their project successes are inspiring and show their dedication to those we serve. Congratulations to all our Partnership Award winners!

Additionally, we honored three individuals whose exemplary service earned them induction into the NIFA Hall of Fame: Dr. Charles Magee, Florida A&M University; Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran, NIFA; and Dr. John Liu, Syracuse University.  Congratulations to each of our inductees! Thank you for your long and committed service to NIFA and to agriculture.  Your work has not only improved NIFA — it has improved our nation and our world.

I want to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you not just to our recent award winners but to all our partners in the Land-grant University System.  Strong partnerships are vital to ensure we achieve our goals. The work you do at your institutions for the people of the United States — and the world — make our communities, our states, the nation and the world a better place to live.

As we move into FY 2023, I look forward to our continued work together to advance innovative solutions to critical issues related to agriculture, food, the environment and communities.

Dr. Dionne Toombs
Acting Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Upcoming Events

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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 on 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. Register now!

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Application Deadlines

Award Announcements

A farmer picks hot peppers, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

USDA Announces More Than $71 Million to Support Underserved Communities

USDA has announced a more than $71 million investment to help underserved communities. Funding is made possible through two key USDA programs: USDA’s 2501 Program and the NIFA-administered American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program. These investments are part of USDA’s commitment to take aggressive action to advance equity for all, especially for farmers and producers in underserved communities.

A farmer picks hot peppers, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NIFA Invests $4.8M in Equipment Grants Program

NIFA has invested $4.8 million in 21 projects as part of the Equipment Grants Program (EGP). This program serves 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, including State Cooperative Extension Systems. The program seeks to strengthen the quality and expand 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.

FY 2022 Awardees: University of Arkansas (2 awards), University of Connecticut, Delaware State University, University of Delaware, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, Michigan State University, University of Nebraska, New Mexico Highlands University, Cornell University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Clemson University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University and University of Wisconsin.

News from NIFA

National Apple Month NIFA graphic.

How About Them Apples?

October is National Apple Month. With a history dating back to the early 20th century, and marked annually since 1973, National Apple Month is a celebration of one of the nation’s most popular fruits. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, apples held the top spot in 2019 for total fruits available for consumption in the U.S. With funding from NIFA, research is taking place nationwide to ensure that there are no bad apples to spoil the bunch.

National Apple Month NIFA graphic.

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

Business colleagues in a brainstorming discussion, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Internal NIFA Working Group Launched to Recommend New NIFA Grants Management System

As we kickoff FY 2023, NIFA is embarking on a Grants Modernization Initiative to transform our grants management systems, processes and policies. Two of our critical grants management systems, CREEMS and ezFedGrants, are nearing the end of their lifecycle and require replacement. The Office of Management and Budget has designated specific agencies to stand up Quality Service Management Offices (QSMOs) for select mission-support functions. QSMOs are federally managed marketplaces for technology and service solutions. NIFA intends to select from among QSMO grants management solutions to modernize and streamline operations and ensure a cohesive customer experience.

Business colleagues in a brainstorming discussion, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Impact of NIFA-Funded Research and Outreach

A section of McCulloh Street a few blocks from Eutaw Place in Baltimore, Maryland, courtesy of UMD’s John T. Consoli.

Urban Trees Rooted in Redlining and Environmental Injustice, UMD-Led Research Finds

More than eight decades after U.S. government maps formalized discriminatory real estate practices, new University of Maryland (UMD) research supported by NIFA is showing how one legacy of “redlined” neighborhoods is still blooming in contemporary Baltimore’s environment.

A section of McCulloh Street a few blocks from Eutaw Place in Baltimore, Maryland, courtesy of UMD’s John T. Consoli.

An NDSU researcher uses a UAV to assess foliar damage in dry pea caused by fusarium, courtesy of NDSU.

NDSU Plant Breeding Programs Using UAVs to Improve Efficiency

North Dakota State University (NDSU) crop breeding programs are of critical importance as they focus on developing improved varieties specifically adapted for North Dakota and surrounding states. With a grant from the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station made possible by NIFA, a multidisciplinary group of NDSU plant breeders, NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering faculty and graduate students are working on the potential application of precision agriculture tools into their breeding programs.

An NDSU researcher uses a UAV to assess foliar damage in dry pea caused by fusarium wilt under field conditions, courtesy of NDSU.

Adult poinsettia thrips, Echinothrips americanus Morgan (dorsal view), courtesy of UF/IFAS’s Babu Panthi.

New Research Refines Thrips Colony Management

Predatory insects are used to help manage a variety of greenhouse pests. Keeping these arthropods’ voracious appetites in check can be difficult, and their long-term survival is important to successful pest management. New University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences(UF/IFAS) research supported by NIFA provides management strategies to help biological control agent populations thrive.

Adult poinsettia thrips, Echinothrips americanus Morgan (dorsal view), courtesy of UF/IFAS’s Babu Panthi.

NIFA In the News

News from USDA

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USDA Seeking Public Comment on a New Provision to Provide Assistance to Agricultural Producers Who Have Experienced Discrimination

USDA is seeking public comment on how it should implement Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a provision that aims to provide assistance to the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs. Section 22007 provides a transformative opportunity for USDA to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners impacted by discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. IRA Section 22007 directs USDA to provide financial assistance to producers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs and has appropriated $2.2 billion for this purpose.

Visit USDA for additional USDA news.

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2022 Census of Agriculture graphic.

Census of Agriculture Coming This November

Check your mailbox: USDA will mail the 2022 Census of Agriculture to millions of agriculture producers across the 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.

2022 Census of Agriculture graphic.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week Oct 19 2022 – reduce food insecurity

With support from NIFA, the nation’s Land-grant Universities are conducting critical research and education to mitigate food insecurity.

LinkedIn Post of the Week

Employee Spotlight Lilian Lowrey

Meet Lilian Lowrey.

Lilian serves as the awards management division director in NIFA's Office of Grants and Financial Management. “I was drawn to NIFA because of its mission. There are so many organizations and people who have benefited from NIFA’s awards – the impact is very powerful and inspiring.”