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The OREI seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research and extension activities. The purpose of this program is to fund projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics. The OREI is particularly interested in projects that emphasize research and outreach that assist farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning. Projects should plan to deliver applied production information to producers. Fieldwork must be done on certified organic land or on land in transition to organic certification, as appropriate to project goals and objectives. Deadline 9 Mar. Read full announcement here
This program makes grants to institutions of higher education to support scholarships for academically talented students demonstrating financial need, enabling them to enter the STEM workforce or STEM graduate school following completion of an associate, baccalaureate, or graduate-level degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics disciplines. Grantee institutions are responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, reporting demographic information about student scholars, and managing the S-STEM project at the institution. The program does not make scholarship awards directly to students; students should contact their institution’s Office of Financial Aid for this and other scholarship opportunities. Deadline 14 Aug. Read full announcement here
The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program makes resources available to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving institutions through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhancements of the research productivity of individual faculty, and an expanded presence of students historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. HBCU-RISE awards specifically target HBCUs to support the expansion of institutional research capacity as well as an increase in the production of doctoral students, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM, at those institutions. Deadline 23 Apr. Read full announcement here
This solicitation aims at introducing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through a variety of interdisciplinary approaches into undergraduate engineering education. The focus of the FY 2012 competition is on nanoscale engineering education with relevance to devices and systems and/or on the societal, ethical, economic and/or environmental issues relevant to nanotechnology. Related funding opportunities are posted on the web site for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, www.nsf.gov/nano. In addition, research and education projects in nanoscale science and engineering will continue to be supported in the relevant NSF programs and divisions. Deadline 23 Apr. Read full announcement here
emerging and traditional agricultural and natural resource issues. These emerging issues include energy conservation, nutrient management, soil health, productivity of grazing lands, wildlife, and priority landscapes. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG. CIG, a component of NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), provides competitive grants to federally-recognized Indian tribes, state and local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals. For more information about the EQIP eligibility requirements. Information about the CIG Announcement of Program Funding can be found at the Oklahoma CIG Web page. Deadline 30 Apr. Read full announcement here
The New Jersey State Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS-NJ), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications are accepted from all 50 States, Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for projects located entirely within New Jersey. Applications sent electronically must be sent to Christine.Hall@nj.usda.gov. For more information contact: Christine Hall New Jersey CIG Program Manager 220 Davidson Avenue 4th Floor Somerset NJ 08873 Phone: (732) 537-6057. E-mail: Christine.Hall@nj.usda.gov. Deadline 21 Mar. Read full announcement here
WREP)Announcement of Funding, Proposal Requirements, and Review Criteria Agency: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Action: Notice of request for proposals through the General WREP. Availability of Funding: NRCS is announcing the availability of up to $15 million in financial assistance (FA) funds or $2 million in technical assistance (TA) funds through the FY 2012 General WREP. Applicants must submit electronic proposals to email@example.com and two hard copies to Loren Unruh, Leader – Programs at 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd, Suite 900, Portland, Oregon 97232. If submitting more than one proposal, submit each proposal separately. For Further Information Contact: Loren Unruh, Leader-Programs, (503) 414-3235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline 10 Feb. Read full announcement here
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine State/Tribal/local government wetland programs as described in Section I, FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION, of this announcement. States, Tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement, as further described herein. Universities that are agencies of a state government are eligible, but must include documentation demonstrating that they are chartered as part of a state government in the proposal submission. Non-profit organizations are not eligible to compete under this RFP. Deadline 15 Mar. FY12 Region 9 Wetland Program Development Grants or Read full announcement here
Projects supported by the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program will: (1) address a State, regional, national, or international educational need; (2) involve a creative or non-traditional approach toward addressing that need that can serve as a model to others; (3) encourage and facilitate better working relationships in the university science and education community, as well as between universities and the private sector, to enhance program quality and supplement available resources; and (4) result in benefits that will likely transcend the project duration and USDA support. Deadline 30 Mar. Read full announcement here
This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences, including, but not limited to: theory, modeling, and analysis of SMD science data; aircraft, stratospheric balloon, suborbital rocket, and commercial reusable rocket investigations; development of experiment techniques suitable for future SMD space missions; development of concepts for future SMD space missions; development of advanced technologies relevant to SMD missions; development of techniques for and the laboratory analysis of both extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft, as well as terrestrial samples that support or otherwise help verify observations from SMD Earth system science missions; determination of atomic and composition parameters needed to analyze space data, as well as returned samples from the Earth or space; Earth surface observations and field campaigns that support SMD science missions; development of integrated Earth system models; development of systems for applying Earth science research data to societal needs; and development of applied information systems applicable to SMD objectives and data. Contact: Dr. Max Bernstein, Lead for Research, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001; E-mail: email@example.com; Telephone: 202-358-0879. Deadline 14 Feb. Read full announcement here
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8 is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine State/Tribal/local government wetland programs as described in Section I, FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION, of this announcement. States, Tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement, as further described herein. Universities that are agencies of a state government are eligible, but must include documentation demonstrating that they are chartered as part of a state government in the proposal submission. Non-profit organizations are not eligible to compete under this RFP. Deadline 26 Mar. Read full announcement here
The purpose of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches for incorporation into NRCS technical manuals or guides, or further adoption by the private sector. NRCS Alaska will accept applications for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years. Projects must involve landowners who meet the EQIP eligibility requirements. Applications will only be considered for projects within Alaska. Priorities for Alaska's 2012 CIG State Program are innovative practices in energy conservation and best management practices for high tunnel production. Pre-proposals and full proposal applications will be reviewed for compliance with threshold eligibility criteria; eligible and complete submissions will be reviewed by a technical peer review panel and scored based on objective criteria. Deadline 24 Feb. Read full announcement here
The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2012-2013 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships based in Sacramento. The S&T Policy Fellowship, a unique one-year professional development opportunity, provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the California Legislature to incorporate science and technology into public policy. Eligible applicants will be Ph.D.-level (or equivalent) scientists and engineers who have a sincere interest in California current events, the state legislative process, and a strong desire to learn how policy decisions are made. Deadline 29 Feb. Read full announcement here
The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), supports the demonstration of technologies that address priority DoD environmental requirements. The goal of ESTCP is to promote the transfer of innovative environmental technologies through demonstrations that collect the data needed for regulatory and DoD end-user acceptance. Projects conduct formal demonstrations at DoD facilities and sites in operational settings to document and validate improved performance and cost savings. ESTCP is seeking proposals for innovative environmental technology demonstrations as candidates for funding beginning in FY2013. This solicitation requests pre-proposals via Calls for Proposals to Federal organizations and via a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Private Sector organizations. Deadline pre-proposals 15 Mar. Detailed instructions for DoD, Non-DoD Federal, and BAA proposers are available on the ESTCP web site: Read full announcement here. Webinar 24 Jan, 1:00-2:00 pm est. ESTCP Director Dr. Jeffrey Marqusee will conduct an online seminar ESTCP Funding Opportunities. This “How to play” briefing will offer valuable information for those interested in new ESTCP funding opportunities. During the online seminar, participants may ask questions about the funding process, the current ESTCP solicitation, and the proposal submission process. Contact: Jonathan Bunger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-696-2126.
This week the FY 2013 budget season kicks off with House and Senate hearings scheduled on the latest Congressional Budget Office economic projection, bills to overhaul the process due on the House floor, and the upcoming release of the president’s fiscal blueprint for next year. Due to be released on Friday, the CBO’s annual Budget and Economic Outlook will provide a 10-year forecast of various economic trends, mostly notably projections of how current tax and spending policies will affect the federal deficit. The House Budget Committee has scheduled the appearance of CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf this week to outline and answer questions on the report, followed by a hearing on the Senate side Thursday. Deficit projections are likely to show a downward trend as a result of last year’s Budget Control Act, (PL 112-25), which mandated more than $2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade. Last August, the CBO projected in its midyear outlook that the fiscal 2012 deficit would fall to $973 billion from the $1.08 trillion it had anticipated earlier in last year’s Outlook. The CBO report will serve as a prelude of sorts to the president’s budget, expected to be released Feb. 13.
The appearance before the Senate Budget Committee of Elmendorf kicks off a series of hearings focused on entitlements, the tax code, and income inequality. Presentations will also be provided by the Office of Management Budget and the secretaries of Defense, Transportation, and Treasury. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he hopes the hearings culminate with the markup of a Senate budget resolution for the first time since April 2010. “I will spend every possible moment focused on trying to achieve a result,” he said last week at a hearing on the global economic outlook. While Conrad may succeed in moving a budget resolution through his committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other chamber Democrats have already indicated they are likely to oppose a rigorous budget floor debate in an election year. “We’re going to have a really good debate in this committee and hopefully we’re going to have a really good debate on the floor of the Senate” Conrad said. “I think it’s good for us as a body and good for the country to have the fullest possible debate.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans plan on passing two bills in a largely party-line vote this week which make changes in how the CBO scores legislation and makes economic forecasts. However, the measures are not expected to advance in the Democratic Senate. The legislation, due at the Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon and expected to pass by the end of the week, is part of a package of 10 bills Republicans are pushing in an effort to streamline the annual budget process and make it more transparent. The first measure (HR 3582), introduced by Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, would require the CBO to use “dynamic scoring” in addition to the current scoring methods used to analyze major legislation. Price and other conservatives have repeatedly pushed for the switch, especially as they advocate for an overhaul of the tax code that would broaden the base and lower rates, arguing that the changes would show higher revenue from improved economic growth in CBO estimates. Price said he hoped the bill, which was backed by the committee in a party-line vote last week, would “encourage pro-growth policy ideas.” Opponents argue that estimates of the macroeconomic effects of tax changes are highly uncertain, however, and a switch to dynamic scoring would make the budget process less credible. Democrats are likely to echo the criticisms of Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, who called the bill “an attempt to bolster an argument for more tax cuts.”
On 9 Jan, EPA issued a final rule with standards for the Renewable Fuel Standards Program (RFS2) in 2012. A link to the final rule, a fact sheet and other information are available on the EPA webpage for the RFS2. Established by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), the RFS2 was to support the use of renewable fuels within the transportation sector. Its stated purposes include encouraging innovation, ensuring domestic energy security, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from vehicles. The EISA definition of various types of biofuel includes a measure of the reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions compared to the fossil fuels gasoline or diesel. Reductions include a 20% reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions for renewable fuel produced at new facilities constructed after the EISA enactment; a 50% reduction for biomass-based diesel or advanced biofuel; and a 60% reduction for cellulosic biofuel. Under the RFS2, EPA establishes mandatory goals for the use of various biofuels in U.S. transportation fuel. The overall goal is to reach 36 billion gallons of biofuel use by 2022. The 2011 RFS2 mandated the use of 13.95 billion gallons of renewable fuel. The 2012 RFS increases the total to 15.2 billion gallons or 9.23 percent of total fuels. The 2012 percentage standards for various types of biofuels include: *Biomass-based diesel: 1.0 billion gallons / 0.91 percent of total fuel; *Advanced biofuels: 2.0 billion gallons / 1.21 percent of total fuel; * Cellulosic biofuels: 8.65 million gallons / 0.006 percent of total fuel; and *Biofuels (primarily corn ethanol): 11.3 billion gallons / 7.10 percent of total fuel.
Ronald F Follett (Ron), a Supervisory Soil Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colorado, has been named to the USDA-ARS Science Hall of Fame. Follett is being recognized for outstanding research contributions in the enhancement of soil, water and air quality. Follett advanced the use of soil organic carbon to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2005, he has led GRACE net (Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network), an effort that now includes more than 70 scientists from 32 locations around the United States. Follett was also instrumental in the development of the Soil Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator computer model, and developed management practices that help agricultural producers use nitrogen fertilizers more effectively and decrease nitrate leaching into groundwater drinking supplies. Read press release here
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$22.85 million loan and US$22.85 million grant to the Republic of Malawi to help smallholder farmers improve food security and reduce rural poverty in the country. Brave Rona Ndisale, Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to Belgium and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD signed the loan and grant agreement for the Sustainable Agricultural Production Programme (SAPP). Agriculture is an important sector for Malawian economic development. It employs about 85 per cent of the workforce and contributes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Maize is the country’s main crop, but one-third of small-scale farmers also cultivate cash crops such as tobacco, tea and groundnuts. Promoting the agricultural sector and raising productivity are high priorities for the government. The programme will support smallholders to improve agricultural productivity through the use of simple and affordable technologies. In addition, it will support smallholder farmers to gain better access to tools, equipment, seeds and fertilisers, financial services, post-harvest facilities, and improved market infrastructure. Cofinanced by the government of Malawi, this new programme will be implemented in six districts identified by the government: Balaka, Blantyre, Chitipa, Chiradzulu, Lilongwe and Nkhotakota and will benefit approximately 200,000 poor rural households, including women and youth. Since 1981, with this new programme, IFAD will have financed 11 programmes and projects in Malawi for a total investment of $164.768 million benefitting 1,435,950 households. Read press release here
A new methodology to encourage smallholder farmers in Kenya – and potentially worldwide -- to adopt improved farming techniques, boost productivity, increase their resilience to climate change, and earn carbon credits, has been given international approval. The Verified Carbon Standard approved this first methodology on soil carbon, a new approach for sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices. The methodology was developed by the World Bank for the Smallholder Agriculture Carbon Finance Project run by the non-governmental organization Vi Agroforestry in western Kenya. The pilot, involving more than 60,000 smallholders who are farming 45,000 hectares of land, is run together with smallholder farmers and supported by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund. Farmers in western Kenya experience the dire effects of climate change first hand every day, through drought and the decline of soil fertility that can be so severe as to seriously threaten their livelihoods. These measures improve soil water infiltration and holding capacity, as well as nutrient supply and soil biodiversity. Better soils raise farm yields and incomes, improving food security, and should make agriculture more resilient to climate change. Further SALM techniques such as less plowing also reduce the release of carbon dioxide. Read Sustainable Agricultural Land Management (SALM) methodology. The World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit
Israeli agro-biotechnology company, Rosetta Green, has developed a new technology to develop plants that are better able to withstand prolonged periods of severe drought. The company aims to develop new plant varieties resistant to harsh climatic condition, maintaining an increased yield. The company, based in Rehovot, Israel, experimented on tobacco plants that were irrigated with seawater instead of freshwater. The genetically modified plants created by the company were able to grow under seawater irrigation, as opposed to the control group of plants. Rosetta Green is using a technology that can identify MicroRNAs, which are short RNA molecules that play an important role in the regulation of key genetic traits in major crops. The MicroRNAs identified by the company were used to develop prototype plants with significantly improved drought tolerance. The genetic modification was performed by plant tissue culture methods that result in genetic transformation, and this “improved trait” survives from one generation to another, according to Avniel. According to Maor, part of the de-regulation process ensures that the modified crops will not lose on quality. As to the pricing of these crops, the company explains that their business model relies on licensing their technology to large seed companies who will be responsible for commercialization. Therefore, the pricing and marketing of the new product will be done by the seed companies.
The National Research Council (NRC) proposes to host a 1-day, open national summit on 10 May to consider a coordinated strategy for managing herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds in the United States. The summit, which addresses a growing challenge to U.S. production agriculture systems and technology, will convene weed scientists, agronomists, and ecologists, along with representatives of federal and state research and regulatory agencies, the crop protection industry, and agricultural producers. See details here
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a new Issue Paper, titled 'Energy Issues Affecting Corn/Soybean Systems: Challenges for Sustainable Production', which examines energy issues within the corn/soybean production system as a model for understanding the complexity of addressing global energy challenges. The authors propose sustainable corn/soybean systems that are feasible and could be done efficiently and economically if there is a desire and public willingness to do so. It would, among other things, provide sustainable grain and biomass feedstock supplies for the bioenergy industry, protect water quality, lessen producer/environmental risk, and promote biodiversity. Read paper here
A recent Science article suggests that too little attention has been devoted to the many links between climate change and agriculture. The piece, authored by a group of experts and led by John Beddington, chief science adviser to the British government, calls for deeper scientific inquiry into both the possible impacts of a warming planet on the world's food production, as well as the contribution the agricultural sector has itself made to climate change. The group of scientists wrote the opinion piece in response to what they saw as a lackluster performance by states at the most recent round of U.N. climate talks, held in Durban, South Africa, last month. They had hoped to see delegates adopt formal measures to better understand and begin to address the climate-agriculture nexus. Although participating states did agree to begin negotiating legally binding emissions caps in 2015, they declined to bring agriculture into the discussion. Two issues make agriculture central to the issue of climate change, according to the scientists. First, the world's food supplies are already strained by growing populations, and variations in climate could stress or even disrupt that tenuous balance. The second issue is the high impact agriculture itself has on the climate. Industrial agriculture, already dominant in the United States and swiftly expanding its foothold around the world, is energy-intensive and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. Moreover, cultivating land for agriculture often requires a preliminary clearing of forests, thus depleting one of the world's best sources of carbon absorption. Slash-and-burn practices are still a common method of clearing land in developing countries.
The USDA Economic Research Service has updated its data sets which provide information on population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. Links to county-level data are included when available. Update of the USDA ERS State Fact Sheets
The National Medal of Science is the Nation’s highest honor for American scientists and engineers. It is presented annually by the President of the United States. The National Medal of Science is awarded to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the chemical, physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, in combination with exemplary service to the Nation. Anyone can nominate for the National Medal of Science by submitting a short description of the nominee’s contribution to the field and three letters of support at www.nsf.gov/od/nms/medal.jsp. Nominations are due by March 31, 2012. Contact: Richard Maulsby, Program Manager, Phone: 571-272-8333, Email: email@example.com.
Sources: Canadian Jewish News; Congressional Quarterly; E&E Publishing; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC
Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.
This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.