NIFA Invests $15.4 Million in Sustainable Agroecosystems: Functions, Processes and Management

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 35 Sustainable Agroecosytems grants that will improve the sustainable management of agro-ecosystems (agricultural, forest and range) while maintaining or improving the supporting natural resources and ecosystem services. The funded research will improve our understanding of the interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes that determine the health and quality of soil, water and air resources, and how these respond to natural and human based changes and management. Other research will provide science-based information that integrates the complex interactions between natural processes and management practices, and that is needed to make decisions to support agricultural production, including bioenergy and biobased product feedstocks, maintain or improve ecosystem services, and avoid critical thresholds of irreversible damage or loss to our natural resource base. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $7 Million to Improve Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 22 Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production grants that will advance development of publicly available cultivars bred to improve the production efficiency, yield, sustainability, resilience, healthfulness, product quality, and value of U.S. agricultural plants while increasing farmer profitability and exports. The awards include both classical and genomics-enabled plant breeding research focused on pre-breeding and germplasm enhancement, cultivar development, selection theory, and applied genetics. Further, NIFA and the National Peanut Board will co-fund three of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages these types of public-private research partnerships. More information about NIFA’s commodity boards program is available on the NIFA website. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

New Spotted Lanternfly Working Group meeting in July

Spotted lanternfly is a new invasive pest recently detected in southeastern Pennsylvania that feeds voraciously on many hosts, including grapes, hops, tree fruit, trees, and ornamentals.

The first Spotted Lanternfly Working Group meeting will be held July 16-17, 2018, at Albright College, Reading, PA. Continue reading

Downy mildew resistant varieties of sweet basil now available

Four new varieties of sweet basil resistant to downy mildew are now available to growers.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick announced in June that collaborative research and variety selection had spawned seeds for new varieties resistant to the dreaded disease. Continue reading

University of Vermont study shows GMO labeling decreases opposition to GMO foods

A recent study at the University of Vermont found that labeling on genetically-modified products actually improved consumer perceptions of genetic engineering.

Labeling of genetically–modified products has been controversial since the concept was introduced. In 2016, several states introduced bills to label genetically modified food products. Many states included an initiative on the voting ballot, and despite the seeming demand for labeling based on surveys, in most states the initiatives did not receive the popular vote. Vermont, on the other hand, passed a law to label genetically-modified foods on July 1, 2016 without presenting it for a popular vote. Continue reading

Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative EDEN RFA available

The FY 2018 Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative: Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) Request for Application (RFA) is now available. This funding provides for national coordination of EDEN for outreach service to enhance biosecurity of the U.S. agriculture and food system.  You may find this funding opportunity on the NIFA website or Grants.gov. This is a cooperative agreement for approximately $383,000 annually for four years based on the availability of funding and progress reports. The deadline for applications is July 26, 2018. Please share this announcement widely within your networks.    Continue reading

USDA, NIFA Announce Investments in Pollinator Health Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 14 grants totaling approximately $10 million for research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals – primarily honey bees, but also wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “Recent declines in both managed and wild pollinators are of paramount importance to our nation’s food security and the vitality of natural resources.”  Continue reading