USDA announces $9 million to support Community Food Projects program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $9 million in funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and independent food systems. NIFA is funding the grants through the Community Food Projects program (CFP), authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

“Community Foods Projects provide the opportunity for low-income communities to become more self-reliant and take control of their own food systems,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “These projects create food systems that are economically equitable and socially and environmentally sustainable, providing real solutions for communities most in need.”

Community Food Projects involve the entire food system. Projects assess strengths and establish connections among existing food systems, resulting in improved food systems that support self-reliance.

Grants are intended to help eligible, private, nonprofit entities in need of a one-time installment of federal assistance to establish and carry out multipurpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000 to $300,000 and up to 36 months. All grants require a dollar-for-dollar match in resources.

Applications are due March 17, 2015. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements.

CFP is an important part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which works to strengthen and support local and regional food systems. More information on the initiative, including an interactive map of CFP and other federally-supported local food projects, can be found at: www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer.

The primary goals of the Community Food Projects program are to (1) meet the food needs of low-income individuals; (2) increase the food self-reliance of low-income communities; (3) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm and nutrition issues; and (4) meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs, including needs relating to infrastructure improvement and development, planning for long-term solutions and the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Since 2009, NIFA has provided more than $28 million to 154 Community Food Project awards in 48 states to help communities improve access to healthy, local food. Past projects include Philadelphia Green, which supports small-scale growers in their efforts to bring fresh, locally grown produce to the Philadelphia metro area, and RootDown LA, which is engaging Los Angeles-area youth in community gardens.

Funding for the CFP program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA Funds $30M to Fight Citrus Greening

USDA Targets Citrus Greening with Promising Tools and Long Term Solutions

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in funding TODAY for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, a devastating citrus disease that threatens U.S. citrus production. The money will fund promising projects that could offer near-term solutions as well as research funding that may develop long-terms solutions. The promising near-term tools and solutions are funded through the HLB Multiagency Coordination Group while the research projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

“Our HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group has worked closely with the citrus industry to select and fund projects that we think will make a real difference for growers against HLB,” said Vilsack. “Funding these projects through cooperative agreements puts us one step closer to putting real tools to fight this disease into the hands of citrus growers.” Vilsack continued, “Through the CDRE research we are announcing today, we are also investing in long-term solutions to diseases that threaten the long-term survival of the citrus industry.”

USDA’s HLB Multi-Agency Coordination Group funded fifteen projects that support thermotherapy, best management practices, early detection, and pest control efforts for a total of more than $7 million. All of them are designed to provide near-term tools and solutions to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in funding TODAY for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, a devastating citrus disease that threatens U.S. citrus production.  the citrus industry fight HLB. The projects include:

Two projects to provide improved delivery of thermotherapy to HLB infected trees, a promising treatment that has shown to help infected trees regain productivity after treatment. One of these projects will test thermotherapy on a grove-wide scale. since studies have shown heating a tree to 120 degrees for approximately 48 hours can kill the HLB bacterium in the upper part of the tree, allowing the tree to regain productivity. This funding will address the challenge of identifying a quick and practical way for growers to use the technology on a large scale.  

Six projects to provide citrus producers with best management practices in Florida citrus groves.

  • One project will focus on lowering the pH of the irrigation water and soil to strengthen the root systems of citrus trees to help them better tolerate HLB infection.
  • Three projects will support different combinations of integrated management approaches for sustaining production in trees in different stages of infection.
  • Two projects will test strategies for preventing tree death due to HLB infection. One of those will field test rootstocks that have shown ability to tolerate HLB infection. The other will use technologies to rapidly propagate the tolerant material for field use by the industry.

Three projects to increase early detection of HLB.

  • One project will train dogs to detect HLB infected trees. Detector dogs have proven to be highly adept at detecting citrus canker and early results suggest they will be an effective early detection tool for HLB.
  • One project will develop a root sampling and testing strategy.
  • One project will compare several promising early detection tests.

Four projects to provide tools to kill the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector of HLB.

  • One will produce and release the insect Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis as a second biological control agent in California.
  • One project will use a biocontrol fungus to kill ACP adults.
  • One project will use a trap to attract and kill ACP adults.
  • One project will increase the use of field cages for the production of the insect Tamarixia radiata in residential areas, especially those that are adjacent to commercial groves in Texas. Tamarixia has already proven to be an effective biological control agent for ACP. Using field cages will enable the wider use of this effective ACP control.

In addition to these projects, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded more than $23 million dollars for research and education project to find lasting solutions to citrus greening disease. Examples of funded projects include developing HLB-resistant citrus cultivars, the development of field detection system for HLB, using heat as a treatment for prolonging productivity in infected citrus trees, creating a new antimicrobial treatment, among others. A fact sheet with a complete list of awardees and project descriptions is available on the USDA website.

Fiscal year 2014 grants have been awarded to two California universities, University of California, Davis, $4.6M and University of California, Riverside, $1.7M. The University of Florida, Gainesville and Kansas State University, Manhattan, are also receiving research awards.

CDRE is a supplement to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The focus of this year’s funding was specifically on citrus greening disease. Because there are wide differences in the occurrence and progression of HLB among the states, there were regional as well as national priorities for CDRE. These priorities, recommended by the Citrus Disease Subcommittee, fall within four categories: 1) priorities that deal with the pathogen; 2) those that deal with the insect vector; 3) those that deal with citrus orchard production systems; and 4) those that deal with non-agricultural citrus tree owners.

One subcommittee member is Justin D. Brown, Vice President and General Manager, D Bar J Orchards, Inc. in Orange Grove, California.

The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA NIFA Citrus Greening Awardees Fact Sheet
USDA NIFA Citrus Greening Awardees Fact Sheet

FDA Update on Food Safety

FDA Announces Competitive Grant Program with NIFA to Fund Food Safety Training, Education and Technical Assistance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it has joined with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in a collaborative partnership to administer and manage the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program.

Recognizing the importance of and need for food safety training for small farm owners and food processors, the FDA and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are announcing a grant program that will provide funding so that these critical groups receive training, education and technical assistance consistent with standards being established under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This is one of several education and outreach efforts associated with the implementation of FSMA.

Priority will be given to those submitting grant applications to train owners and operators of small and medium-size farms; farmers just starting out in business; socially disadvantaged farmers; small food processors; small fruit and vegetable wholesalers; and farms that lack access to food safety training and other educational opportunities. A Federal, State, or local agency, State cooperative extension services, non-profit community based or non-governmental organizations, institutions of higher education, tribes and tribal stakeholders or a collaboration of two of more eligible entities are among the entities eligible for funding.

Education and technical assistance projects are an essential element in the FSMA implementation strategy. Such efforts will help ensure widespread voluntary compliance by encouraging greater understanding and adoption of established food safety standards, guidance, and protocols. They also facilitate the integration of these standards and guidance with a variety of agricultural production systems, encompassing conventional, sustainable, organic, and conservation and environmental practices.

Meeting the technical assistance needs for produce safety will require an investment well beyond what is being announcing today. This grant program underscores the commitment of both agencies to working with the grower community, Cooperative Extension Services (a nationwide education network), our state and tribal government partners, and institutions of higher education to more fully define the need and strategies for meeting it.

FDA is first issuing a request for applications for the establishment of a National Coordination Center (NCC) for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program. Once funding is available, separate requests for applications for the establishment of Regional Centers will be forthcoming.

 

This Request for Application can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-FD-15-003.html

More information on the NIFA can be found at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov

You can find additional information on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm

For more information on FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, visit http://www.fda.gov/fsma.

 

USDA Awards Funding for Regional Centers of Excellence in Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention

Source: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $4 million in grants to establish four regional centers of excellence for research on nutrition education and obesity prevention, as well as a coordinating center, which will develop and test innovative nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions for underserved, low-income families.

“Nearly one in three children today is overweight or obese, and nutrition promotion strategies, including education, public policies, health systems, and environmental changes, are the key to reversing this trend,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, Ph.D., National Institute of Food and Agriculture director. “These grants provide the opportunity to improve the health of our next generation and ensure that all children have access to the tools they need to improve their nutrition and physical fitness.”

Together, Food and Nutrition Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will support effective education and extension services through two preexisting programs; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). This joint effort, known as the SNAP & EFNEP: Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) will establish centers at Colorado State University, Cornell University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and one national coordinating center at the University of Kentucky.

The National Coordination Center will coordinate communications across the four regions and disseminate findings. The national center will also aggregate data to share with policy makers and other stakeholders, and will work with NIFA to organize annual meetings with the regional centers. The interventions developed through the centers will likely benefit additional populations beyond SNAP and EFNEP participants.

The $4 million in funding supports USDA’s strategic goal of developing and extending a research-based approach to obesity prevention, ultimately producing measurable improvements in health, obesity, nutrition and physical activity-related outcomes.

“This joint grant program is one of the most important and powerful tools at our disposal to promote healthier choices and improved physical health among participants in our nutrition assistance programs,” said Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe. “I am thrilled that we have been able to launch this partnership to drive innovation and increase our impact in preventing and reducing obesity.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to SNAP, these programs include the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. Improving the diets of participants is a key component of USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.