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You are here:Home / Newsroom / Newsletters / NIFA Updates / NIFA Update - April 12, 2012

NIFA Update — April 12, 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.



  • Messages from Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young
  • USDA Releases RFAs for the AFRI Childhood Obesity Challenge Area
  • FR Notice Announcing Crop Protection Program Listening Sessions
  • NIFA NPL Returns After Afghanistan Detail
  • Video Available — Small Steps to Health and Wealth Workshop
  • NIFA in the News
  • NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications



  • Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available
  • USDA and the American Association of Community Colleges Sign Agreement to Increase Access to Education
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable
  • USDA Urges Americans to Prevent Invasive Pests, Protect American Agriculture


  • Nominate for New Borlaug Field Award


Awards and Recognition

  • NC State Wins Presidential Service Award
  • NIFA Programs Receive International Excellence Awards



  • Next issue of NIFA Update is April 25

Messages from Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

FY 2012 AFRI Foundational Program Request for Applications

NIFA has determined that it is in the best interest of all concerned to combine the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 and FY 2013 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Program Request for Applications (RFA). This consolidated RFA will combine appropriated FY 2012 and FY 2013 Foundational Program funds and will be called the FY 2013 AFRI Foundational Program RFA. The anticipated publication date is August 15, 2012. In subsequent years, NIFA would release the AFRI Foundational Program RFA just prior to the start of the fiscal year. 

The Foundational Program is the portion of AFRI that specifically addresses fundamental research.  The AFRI Foundational Program RFA seeks to create a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges.  Stakeholder feedback associated with previous AFRI offerings include comments that insufficient funds were allocated to the Foundational Program, some of the priority statements within the RFA were too narrowly written, and important areas of science was omitted from the Foundational Program RFA.

This decision will enable NIFA to:

  • Adjust and normalize the annual business cycle for the AFRI Foundational Program so that the RFA is published before the start of a new fiscal year allowing the agency to conduct peer review panels, process awards, and obligate funds within the targeted fiscal year as was done in the past.
  • Provide applicants with a more consistent and predictable schedule for the release of the RFA enhancing the preparation and timely submission of applications.
  • Improve administrative efficiencies in managing the AFRI Foundational Program during the upcoming fiscal year by optimizing peer panel costs and reducing staff workloads.
  • Effectively incorporate recent stakeholder input into the development of the combined RFA.

Because the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s six priority areas are broad, we anticipate no significant changes to the program during its reauthorization in the next Farm Bill. However, we will keep you updated on any program adjustments that may become necessary with passage of the farm bill. Contact Effie Baldwin, NIFA management resource officer and AFRI coordinator for more information or questions.

2012 NIFA Partnership Awards

NIFA recognizes there are many outstanding contributions that our partners in the land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions and organizations have achieved. To recognize these achievements, the Partnership Awards Program was established in 2007.

NIFA invites all land-grant universities and cooperating institutions and organizations supported by NIFA to submit nominations for the 2012 NIFA Partnership Awards Program. This program recognizes outstanding contributions, aligned with NIFA strategic goals, in support of the USDA mission. Awards for this year will recognize excellence in:

  • Mission Integration of Research, Education, and Extension
  • Multistate Efforts
  • Innovative Programs and Projects
  • Effective and Efficient Use of Resources
  • Program Improvement through Global Engagement


Nominations can be submitted for individuals or teams of up to 35 members. Each institution may submit up to two nominations (combined total across all categories), meaning the entire institution including research, education, and extension functions. Nominations must follow the specified partnership criteria and be submitted on the 2012 NIFA Partnership Awards Nomination Form.

All signed nomination forms must be submitted by July 13, 2012, via email using scanned files saved as .pdf or .jpg files and emailed to Chevon Gibson: as instructed in the guidelines.

Winning nominations will be recognized at the NIFA Day of Appreciation tentatively scheduled for October. NIFA will pay travel expenses for one person from each winning nomination, whether it is an individual or team award. Nominations should include only individuals or teams who have performed truly distinguished service. Deans, directors, and administrators should thoroughly review each submission for validity of accomplishments before signing his or her approval on the nomination form.


Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Ph.D.
Acting NIFA Director


USDA Releases RFAs for the AFRI Childhood Obesity Challenge Area

WASHINGTON, April 9 – NIFA released the request for applications (RFA) to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Childhood Obesity Prevention funding opportunity to support research, education, and extension aimed at reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity across the nation. In fiscal year 2012, NIFA plans to award $5 million in grants in this challenge area.
The long-term goal of USDA-sponsored obesity research is to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. This year’s funding is focused on generating knowledge of the behavior, social and/or environmental factors that influence childhood obesity and then developing and implementing prevention programs for children and adolescents. Research and programs should be aimed at obesity in children ages 2 through 19. Each application will go through a competitive selection process based on scientific merit and reviewed by an external panel of peer reviewers.   

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. Visit the NIFA Newsroom to read the full release.

FR Notice Announcing Crop Protection Program Listening Sessions

The Federal Register (FR) announced, Tuesday, April 3, (Vol. 77, No. 64), the solicitation for input from stakeholders regarding the proposed Crop Protection Competitive Grants Program. The President’s budget proposal for FY 2013 consolidates six funding lines addressing pest management and integrated pest management (IPM) issues into a single budgetary line, called the Crop Protection Program.

Two public meetings are scheduled for: Monday, April 16, 2012, from 1 to 5 p.m. eastern time; and Tuesday, May 1, 2012, from 1 to 5 p.m. eastern time. Connection details for those meetings will be posted on the NIFA website. The April 16 meeting will be held in Room 1410A–D, Waterfront Centre Building, NIFA/USDA, 800 9th Street SW., Washington, DC 20024. Attendees will need to provide photo identification to be admitted in the building. All comments not otherwise presented or submitted for the record at one of the meetings must be submitted by close of business Thursday, May 31, 2012, to assure consideration in the development of the proposed FY 2013 Crop Protection RFA. Please read the full announcement for additional meeting information and comment submissions.

NIFA NPL Returns after Afghanistan Detail

Ann Marie Thro, NIFA national program leader (NPL) for Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, returns to NIFA’s Institute for Food Production and Sustainability, after serving 1 year as a USDA senior agricultural representative in Afghanistan. Thro provided leadership to USDA agricultural advisors serving with the U.S. Mission in the Northern Region. USDA advisors provide capacity building support to staff of the provincial Directorates of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAILs). The intended outcome was to establish a national staff with the ability to serve Afghanistan while reducing the United States and other donor presence. She also collaborated with Embassy-based USDA Foreign Agricultural Service leadership in Afghanistan to increase USDA’s northern regional team from two province-based agricultural advisors, to five.

Video Available — Small Steps to Health and Wealth Workshop

NIFA’s Division of Family and Consumer Sciences hosted the USDA in-service program, Small Steps to Health and Wealth, for all USDA employees on February 15. The Workshop recording is now available on the NIFA website.

NIFA in the News


NIFA Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program (WAMS)

April 12, 2012

Saleia Afele-Faamuli

Special Research Grants Program Potato Breeding Research

 April 13, 2012

Liang-Shiou Lin

Supplemental and Alternative Crops

April 16, 2012

Shing F Kwok

Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI)

See solicitation deadlines.

Carmela Bailey

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

Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program

May 15, 2012

Aida Balsano

Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disabilities: National AgrAbility Project (NAP)

May 17, 2012

Bradley Rein

Rural Youth Development (RYD) Grants Program

May 21, 2012

Nancy Valentine

Smith-Lever Special Needs Program (SLSNCGP)

June 1, 2012

William Hoffman


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.


Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available

WASHINGTON, April 5 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the USDA is seeking grant applicants for the 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program. Approximately $10 million is available for marketing operations such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and road-side stands. The grants, which are administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), are available through a competitive application process on

Projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts or low-income areas will receive additional consideration. Information on applying for a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant was published in the April 6, Federal Register and available on the AMS website. Applications will only be accepted via and must be received by May 21, 2012. Contact Carmen Humphrey, program manager, phone: 202-720-8317. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA and the American Association of Community Colleges Sign Agreement to Increase Access to Education

WASHINGTON, April 4 – Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Association of Community Colleges that is designed to highlight one of the goals of the White House Rural Council—to expand access to training and higher education for rural citizens and strengthen the rural economy.

The agreement, formally referred to as a MOU, spells out ways that community colleges and USDA will work together to provide training and higher educational opportunities to rural residents and work to build sustainable regional economies. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable

WASHINGTON, April 3 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) along with the Department of Energy, and the Department of Navy will co-host an Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable in Washington D.C. on May 18, 2012, as the next step in the partnership with the private sector to produce advanced biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.

The roundtable will focus on efforts to accelerate the production of bio-based fuels for military and commercial purposes. USDA and the Departments of Energy and the Navy announced last year, through the Defense Production Act, that they will collaborate to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in aviation and marine biofuels and marine diesel to help power our military. Participants in this roundtable will discuss next steps for those interested in pursuing the production of aviation biofuels and marine diesel. Topics will include production, distribution and contracting, and best practices. This roundtable follows a "match making" event hosted at USDA headquarters to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks, and biorefineries. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.

USDA Urges Americans to Prevent Invasive Pests, Protect American Agriculture

WASHINGTON, April 2 – The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it is dedicating the month of April to sharing information about the threat that invasive plant pests, diseases, and harmful weeds pose to America's fruits, vegetables, trees, and other plants—and how the public can help prevent their spread. APHIS works each day to promote U.S. agricultural health and safeguard the nation's agriculture, fishing, and forestry industries.

Invasive pests are non-native species that feed on America's agricultural crops, trees, and other plants. These "hungry pests" have cost the United States billions of dollars and wreak havoc on the environment. USDA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection are working closely with state agriculture departments and industry are dedicated to preventing the introduction and spread of invasive pests. The goal is to safeguard agriculture and natural resources from the entry, establishment, and spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds. USDA urges the public to visit the Hungry Pests website to learn more about invasive pests and what they can do to protect American agricultural resources by preventing the spread of these threats. Visit the USDA Newsroom to read the full release.


Nominate for New Borlaug Field Award

The World Food Prize is seeking nominations for the new Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. This $10,000 award will recognize exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under age 40 who has clearly demonstrated intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty. 

The award will honor an individual who is working closely and directly "in the field" or at the production or processing level with farmers, animal herders, fishers, or others in rural communities, in any discipline or enterprise across the entire food production, processing, and distribution chain.

Visit the World Food Prize website for more information. Nominations are due June 30. The award will be presented during the World Food Prize events October 17-19, in Des Moines, IA. Questions may be directed to the World Food Prize Director of Secretariat or phone at 515-245-3796.


NC State Wins Presidential Service Award

North Carolina State University (NC State) received the highest federal recognition a college or university can obtain for their dedication to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. As an honoree on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, NC State is one of only five Presidential Awardees nationwide, and one of two in the “general community service’ category. The award was recently presented to NC State by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education at the American Council on Education annual meeting in Los Angeles.

NC State estimates that more than 21,000 of its 34,000 students participate in either community-service or service learning projects. One of the major projects recognized is Project YES (Youth Extension Service), which is a national internship engaging college students in service to meet military families’ needs. Under Project YES, NC State interns have traveled to military events in 21 states and delivered youth programs to 894 children with deployed family members. Project YES is administered by NIFA under the DoD-USDA Extension Military Partnership.

NIFA Programs Receive International Excellence Awards

Two NIFA supported programs won International Excellence Awards during the 7th International IPM Symposium in Memphis, TN. Over 40 individuals were recognized for their efforts on the Soybean Rust PIPE that was developed in 2005 to monitor and share information on the occurrence of the disease. The platform for collaboration between governments, researchers, extension agents, and soybean grower organizations, as well as private groups representing the seed and chemical industry has worked continuously since then to provide valuable information to the soybean grower community. USDA established the four Regional IPM Centers over 10 years ago. As a collaborative network, these Centers and 22 staff members were recognized for their groundbreaking work. They listen to growers, consumers, extension professionals, researchers, regulators, and industry groups to identify priority IPM challenges. Then they coordinate the same stakeholders as team members in finding and promoting solutions.


The next NIFA issue is planned for April 25. Submit news items to: by April 18. 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: 04/12/2012