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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update - March 14, 2012

NIFA Update — March 14, 2012

NIFA Update, from the Office of the Director, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.



  • President Obama’s Intention to Appoint NIFA Director
  • Overview of Proposed OMB Guidance — Reform of Federal Policies Relating to Grants and Cooperative Agreements; Cost Principles and Administrative Requirements
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • USDA Announces Investments in Nutrition Education for Native American Families
  • USDA MyPlate Partners Announce "What's on My Plate?" Day
  • USDA Unveils the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass


  • 2012 National EFNEP Conference



  • 2012 Small Farmers Conference


Awards and Recognition

  • AAHHE Announced 2012 Master Thesis Winners



  • Next issue of NIFA Update is March 28

President Obama’s Intention to Appoint NIFA Director

Last Friday the White House announced President Obama’s intention to appoint Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy as Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). When his appointment is made final, Ramaswamy will oversee the agency's unique mission to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. Currently, he serves as the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University (OSU) and as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.

Ramaswamy was the associate dean of Purdue's College of Agriculture and directed the university's agricultural research programs from 2006 to 2009. Prior to joining the Purdue faculty in 2006, he was head of Kansas State University’s Department of Entomology from 1997 to 2006 where he held the title of Distinguished Professor. He also served on the faculty of Mississippi State University, was a research associate at Michigan State University, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Entomological Society of America. Ramaswamy earned his B.S. and M.S. in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, and earned his Ph.D. in entomology from Rutgers University.

Throughout his career, Ramaswamy has contributed extensively to understandings of the reproductive biology of insects and plant-insect interactions affecting wheat, cotton, beans, and other crops. His research has led to the development of innovative ways of controlling crop losses. He has published over 150 peer reviewed publications and book chapters. His dedication to student learning is exemplified by the Leadership Academy at OSU, a program he established for undergraduates in the colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry that helps develop career-ready skills in leadership and communications.

Overview of Proposed OMB Guidance — Reform of Federal Policies Relating to Grants and Cooperative Agreements; Cost Principles and Administrative Requirements

NIFA has prepared an overview of the proposed guidance on 2 CFR Chapters I and II, Reform of Federal Policies Relating to Grants and Cooperative Agreements; Cost Principles and Administrative Requirements (Including Single Audit Act.) In November 23, 2009, Executive Order 13520 on Reducing Improper Payments and the February 28, 2011, Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments, the President directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work with Executive Branch agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; and other key stakeholders to evaluate potential reforms to federal grants policies.

Financial assistance communities have worked for over a year to carry out the President's direction that OMB and federal agencies form the interagency Council on Financial Assistance Reform. Public comment is encouraged so that OMB, federal agencies, and stakeholders may consider these views and perspectives as they evaluate ideas for reform. The reform ideas under discussion include reforms to audit requirements, reforms to cost principles and the cost principles for hospitals, and reforms to administrative requirements. The attached Federal Register notice requests that comments be received by OMB no later than 5 p.m. eastern standard time (e.s.t.) on March 29, 2012.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP)

March 14, 2012

Tim Grosser

Interregional Research Project #4 Minor Crop Pest Management Program (IR-4)

March 20, 2012

Monte Johnson

1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants (CBG) Program

March 27, 2012

Edwin Lewis

Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grants Program

March 30, 2012

Gregory Smith

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program - Organic Transitions (ORG)

April 25, 2012

Steven I. Smith

1890 Facilities Grants Program

May 4, 2012

P.S. Benepal

Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models

May 11, 2012

Nancy Cavallaro

Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers

May 14, 2012

Herbert Bolton

AFRI- Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit: Research in Biomedicine and Agriculture Using Agriculturally Important Domestic Species

Letter of Intent
August 20, 2012
Closing Date
September 20, 2012

Mark A Mirando


NIFA advertises all of its funding opportunities through “Find Grant Opportunities” on the website. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an email notification service based on these parameters.

USDA Announces Investments in Nutrition Education for Native American Families

WASHINGTON, March 7 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined tribal leaders from across the nation at the National Congress of American Indians to announce investments in positive nutrition education and physical activity habits that can lead to healthier lifestyles. The grants are funded through USDA's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) and will provide nutrition education materials and resources for children and parents in tribal communities in nine states.

Each year, Indian Tribal Organizations and state agencies that administer FDPIR can apply for funding to expand nutrition education efforts. USDA chose 17 applicants, located in California, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Alaska to receive FY 2012 funding to develop nutrition education projects that incorporate dietary guidelines recommendations within the Native American culture. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA MyPlate Partners Announce "What's on My Plate?" Day

WASHINGTON, March 1 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that nearly 6,000 USDA partners are teaming to deem March 8, 2012, as "What's on My Plate?" Day to heighten public awareness of the importance of choosing nutritious foods for a healthy meal. The effort is supported by USDA's MyPlate Community and national strategic partners, all of which are committed to promoting a diet that reflects the latest recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and highlights the message behind the new MyPlate food icon. The goal of "What's on My Plate?" Day is to create a nationwide buzz about food choices on March 8 as part of national Nutrition Month activities. By leveraging the strengths of social networks such as blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to promote MyPlate and its related messages and resources – including the new SuperTracker and the website – these resources empower consumers with the how-tos to build healthier plates. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Unveils the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass

WASHINGTON, February 29 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass, an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business, and community case studies. While hosting a live webinar to highlight USDA's work over the past 3 years, the Secretaries emphasized how local and regional food systems across the country create additional economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs, expand healthy food access, and meet growing customer demand.

The KYF Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems. The compass consists of an interactive U.S. map that shows local and regional food projects that documents the results of this work through case studies, photos, and video content. The KYF Compass organizes USDA's work on local and regional food systems into seven thematic areas. Visit the USDA newsroom to read the full release.


2012 National EFNEP Conference

The 2012 National Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Conference, February 20-23, was held in Washington, DC. EFNEP is a national program that provides community-based nutrition education in all states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. This program, which is delivered by paraprofessionals under county and university faculty leadership, helps low-income individuals and families acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavioral changes necessary for low-cost, healthy, nutritional diets, and physical activity. The conference brought together more than 150 EFNEP coordinators and educators for training, networking, and sharing. Helen Chipman, NIFA national program leader for Food and Nutrition Education, addressed current and emerging national EFNEP priorities, including the web-based evaluation and reporting system and youth evaluation indicators. In-depth sessions showcased the status of these initiatives and get conference attendees’ feedback. Ralph Otto, Deputy Director for NIFA Food and Community Resources; Dionne Toombs, Director for the Division of Nutrition; and Brenda Barnett, Branch Chief of Formula Grants, addressed EFNEP’s place within NIFA and the formula grant process. Other session topics included youth evaluation, social media, client retention, physical activity, coordinating EFNEP, SNAP-Ed, and the use of MyPlate resources. 


2012 Small Farmers Conference

The Alcorn State University Extension Program and the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives are co-sponsoring the 2012 Small Farmers Conference in historic downtown Natchez, MS, on March 26-28. The Small Farmers Conference has been a part of the educational outreach efforts to the citizens of Mississippi for 21 years. It has provided technical assistance and education to the farmers, cooperatives, and community organizations. The statewide conference will focus on assisting participants in creatively starting new enterprises or enhancing agricultural endeavors while gaining a wealth of knowledge through new marketing strategies and business opportunities. Contact Freda M. Lawrence, director of media and communications, Alcorn State University, at 601-877-2306, for additional information.


AAHHE Announced 2012 Master Thesis Winners

American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) recently announced the 2012 Master Thesis Winners. The national thesis award competition is sponsored by AAHHE, NIFA, and Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. The winners were recognized at the 7th Annual AAHHE meeting in Costa Mesa, CA, on March 10.

The first place winner is Xiomara E. Elis-Argote, California Polytechnic State University; in second place is Luz Eliana Pinilla, Texas A&M University – College Station; and the third place winner is Maria Isabel Quintero-Villegas, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The criteria for the awards are focused on theses that meet the four broad societal challenges addressed in the New Biology for 21st Century Report and whose research addresses the five priority areas of Food Safety, Climate Change, Sustainable Energy, Childhood Obesity, and Global Food Security and Hunger.  


The next NIFA issue is planned for March 28. Submit news items to: by March 21. If you have questions about Update, please contact the Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, NIFA Communications Staff.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to Judy Rude. In the body of the message, type: subscribe nifa-update OR unsubscribe nifa-update. Back issues of NIFA UPDATE are available on the NIFA website.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting Director

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Questions? Comments? Last Updated: 03/14/2012