May 30, 2014
On Wednesday, May 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of more than $16 million in funding for fiscal year 2014 to address critical integrated pest management (IPM) needs. Applications for funding are due June 19, 2014.
IPM is a science-based, decision-making process that allows farmers to identify and reduce risk from pests using pest-management related strategies. IPM provides producers with an alternative to intensive, conventional pesticide use and different components can be adopted on both conventional and organic farms (and everything in between!). Producers apply their understanding of pest life cycles and their interaction with the environment by utilizing proper inspection, identification, and appropriate treatment of pests by conventional or organic means. IPM has been successful in reducing pesticide use on farm, minimizing losses off farm, and protecting human health through judiciously targeted pesticide management strategies.
The funding announced earlier this week is part of NIFA’s newly created Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) competitive grants program, as approved in last year’s agriculture appropriations bill and which consolidates five previous NIFA IPM research programs with related purposes. The consolidated programs include:
The consolidated CPPM program provides support for the functions covered through its predecessor programs through three linked subprograms that emphasize research, extension, and collaboration among related programs and grantees. The three program areas are outlined in the FY 2014 Request for Applications (RFA) and include the Applied Research and Development Program (ARDP), the Extension Implementation Program (EIP), and the Regional Coordination Program (RCP).
ARDP awards can provide up to $250,000 per project and should enhance the development and implementation of ecologically-based, sustainable IPM tactics and strategies that address regional and/or national IPM priorities.
EIP awards can provide up to $900,000 per project and should assure the implementation of IPM through extension activities and coordination with other grantees and other CPPM program areas based on defined state, multi-state, regional, national, or international needs. This program replaces the former Extension IPM Coordination and Support (EIPM-CS) program.
RCPA awards can provide up to $4 million per project and should increase coordination and improve efficiency of IPM research and extension efforts; facilitate collaboration across states and disciplines; and promote further development and adoption of IPM through regional pest management information networks, collaborative team building and broad-based stakeholder participation. This program replaces the former Regional IPM Center Grants, which provides funding on a competitive bases to four regional centers to coordinate IPM research and extension activities across the country.
Successful applicants should propose to develop knowledge and information needed for the adoption of IPM methods that 1) provide improved economic and environmental benefits, 2) reduce human health risks from pests, diseases, and the practices used to manage them, and 3) minimize adverse environmental impacts from pests, diseases, and the practices used to manage them.
IPM practices promote healthy agricultural systems while conserving organisms that are beneficial to these environments. Research focused on organic agriculture can be included in these applications.
Unfortunately, the eligibility for the newly consolidated CPPM program is substantially narrower than many of the predecessor programs it replaces. The new program limits eligibility to only colleges and universities — continuing an increasingly concerning trend of shutting out non-academic and non-profit research institutions from even competing for federal research grants. NSAC supports the program’s new direction to require projects to be fully integrated by including a research, education, and/or extension component, but strongly opposes the restriction of funding solely to colleges and universities. This alarming anti-competitive trend at NIFA is harmful to research outcomes and also harmful to growing the constituency for agricultural research.