Organic Transitions Program (ORG)

The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. NIFA administers the ORG program by determining priorities in U.S. agriculture through Agency stakeholder input processes in consultation with the NAREEEAB. ORG will continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation, pollinator health, and climate change mitigation, including greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as the development of educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices, and development of cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.  It is expected that all projects will integrate research, education and extension activities, as appropriate to project goals, although some projects may be weighted more heavily than others in one or more of these areas.  However, all proposals should have activities and impact in research and at least one of the other areas: education and extension. Continue reading

NIFA Announces $4 Million in Funding for Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of up to $4 million for research to help federal regulatory agencies make science-based evaluations about the environmental effects of genetically engineered (GE) organisms including plants, animals, insects and microorganisms. This funding is made available through NIFA’s Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants (BRAG) Program.

“Policymakers need sound science to inform their decisions on the rapidly growing field of genetic engineering,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “In addition to helping enlighten regulatory decision makers, this funding also supports the conferences that bring together scientists, regulators and other stakeholders to examine critical topics on biotechnology and risk assessment.” Continue reading

Two tenure-track positions in entomology at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is seeking individuals to work in the area of Vector-borne Disease Ecology and Insect Toxicology/Physiology. They intend to begin initial review of applicants for both positions on January 15. 

These position announcements are attached and applications may be submitted at the links below:

Vector-borne Disease Ecology:

Insect Toxicology and Physiology:


Can public-private partnerships work for Extension?

As those of us who work on dwindling Extension dollars realize, public funding for Extension services has been gradually decreasing. Some universities have closed or combined county Extension offices, and others have debated eliminating Extension programs entirely. If the current trend continues, it’s clear that those running Extension programs will need options to keep Extension alive. A peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management suggests that partnerships between Extension programs and private organizations, including industry, might be one of these options.

Although the article focuses primarily on Extension relationships with industry, other examples of public collaborations with private organizations have been forming in the last several years. For example, Growing Produce highlights one such partnership between food giant General Mills and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to build and protect pollinator habitat. Continue reading

Tips for Hessian fly control

In Southeast Farm Press

by Dominic Reisig, NC State University

Hessian flies adults are emerging and laying eggs in December. Larvae will hatch from these eggs and will feed throughout the cold months, killing tillers. Here are some bits of information to help you decide whether to spray wheat.

Similar to fall of 2015, Hessian flies adults are emerging and laying eggs in December.  Larvae will hatch from these eggs and will feed throughout the cold months, killing tillers.  Continue reading

Pulaski County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent – Georgia

This position will be responsible for managing the Agricultural and Natural Resources programming in Pulaski County by providing educational opportunities in production agriculture and natural resources to a wide variety of audiences utilizing a variety of teaching methods. Pulaski County is a rural county near I-75, heavily dependent on agriculture for its economic vitality. The county has a total annual Farm Gate value of over $104 million. It ranks 1st in Wheat and Wheat Straw production for the state. 60% of the total row crop production in the county has transitioned to Cotton. It is also known for its strong conservation tillage practices.

This position serves as a UGA Public Service Faculty Member and a member of the Pulaski County Extension Staff ( and is under the direction and leadership of the Pulaski County Extension Coordinator and the Southwest District Extension Director. Continue reading

Weed seeds may be included in some pollinator mixes

Reposted from The Connection, North Central IPM Center

by Diana Yates

Weed scientists in at least two Midwestern states have been reporting for years that a conservation program meant to provide habitat for pollinating insects is sowing bad seeds – including seeds of the potentially devastating agricultural weed Palmer amaranth – along with the good. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have traced the weed seeds to at least one source: pollinator habitat seed sold by a company in the Midwest.

A tag on the seed mix claims it is 100 percent weed-free. The provider of the seed, whom the researchers declined to name, is one of dozens of companies that sells seed mixes used in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pollinator Habitat Initiative and Conservation Reserve Program. Continue reading