[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 21 (Wednesday, February 1, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4984-4986]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2100]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Solicitation of Input From Stakeholders Regarding the Agriculture 
and Food Research Initiative

AGENCY: National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting and request for stakeholder input.

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SUMMARY: In Fiscal Year 2009, the National Institute of Food and 
Agriculture (NIFA), created a new research, education, and extension 
program called the Agriculture and

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Food Research Initiative (AFRI), pursuant to the requirements of 
section 7406 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. In 
September of 2008 and June of 2010, NIFA solicited public comment from 
persons who use or conduct research, extension, or education regarding 
the implementing regulation to be developed for this new program. In 
addition, NIFA published an Interim Final Rule with request for 
comments regarding program-specific administrative provisions for the 
AFRI as subpart G of 7 CFR 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-
Formula Federal Assistance Programs--General Award Administrative 
Provisions and Specific Administrative Provisions in the Federal 
Register on September 9, 2010 [75 FR 54759-54766]. It is anticipated 
that the Final Rule will be published in the Federal Register with 
request for comments within 90 days of this Federal Register notice.
    In an effort to improve the quality of the AFRI program, NIFA is 
again holding a public meeting and soliciting public comments for 
consideration in the development of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 AFRI 
program solicitations and the FY 2014 Budget. All written comments 
received prior to the AFRI Listening Session on February 22, 2012, may 
be utilized in a question and response document and/or responded to 
during the session held on February 22, 2012 based on the applicability 
of the comment to the general population of AFRI stakeholders. However, 
all comments must be received by close of business on March 22, 2012, 
to be considered in the initial drafting of FY 2013 AFRI program 
solicitation documents.

DATES: The meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, from 8 
a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST). All written comments must 
be received by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held in room 1410A-D, Waterfront Centre 
Building, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States 
Department of Agriculture, 800 9th Street SW., Washington, DC 20024. 
Meeting participants will need to provide photo identification to be 
admitted to the building. Please allow sufficient time to go through 
security.
    You may submit comments, identified by NIFA-2012-0004, by any of 
the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
    Email: AFRI@nifa.usda.gov. Include NIFA-2012-0004 in the subject 
line of the message.
    Fax: (202) 401-6488.
    Mail: Paper, disk or CD-ROM submissions should be submitted to 
AFRI; Institute of Food Production and Sustainability (IFPS), National 
Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 
2220, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-2220.
    Hand Delivery/Courier: AFRI, IFPS, National Institute of Food and 
Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 3444, Waterfront 
Centre, 800 9th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20024.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and reference to NIFA-2012-0004. All comments received will be posted 
to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Terri Joya, (202) 401-1282 
(phone), (202) 401-6488 (fax), or tjoya@nifa.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Additional Meeting and Comment Procedures

    Persons wishing to present oral comments at the Wednesday, February 
22, 2012 meeting are requested to pre-register by contacting Ms. Terri 
Joya at (202) 401-1282, by fax at (202) 401-6488 or by email to 
tjoya@nifa.usda.gov. Participants may reserve one 5-minute comment 
period. More time may be available, depending on the number of people 
wishing to make a presentation and the time needed for questions 
following presentations. Reservations will be confirmed on a first-
come, first-served basis. All other attendees may register at the 
meeting. Written comments may also be submitted for the record at the 
meeting. All comments must be received by close of business March 22, 
2012, to be considered. All comments and the official transcript of the 
meeting, when they become available, may be reviewed on the NIFA Web 
page, http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/afri/afri_listen_session.html, 
for six months. Participants who require a sign language interpreter or 
other special accommodations should contact Ms. Joya as directed above.
    Additional Program-specific webinars will occur after the public 
meeting to obtain public comments for use in developing the following 
activities: Foundational priority areas; Childhood Obesity Prevention; 
Climate Change; Food Safety; Global Food Security; Sustainable 
Bioenergy; and NIFA Fellowships Grant Program. The date and time for 
each webinar will be posted to the following URL: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/afri/afri_faq_webinars.html.

Background and Purpose

    Section 7406 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 
(Pub. L. 110-246) (i.e., the 2008 Farm Bill) amends subsection (b) of 
the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 
450i(b)) to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a new 
competitive grant program to provide funding for fundamental and 
applied research, extension, and education to address food and 
agricultural sciences. AFRI supersedes the National Research 
Initiative. AFRI Grants shall be awarded to address priorities in 
United States agriculture in the following areas: (A) Plant health and 
production and plant products; (B) Animal health and production and 
animal products; (C) Food safety, nutrition, and health; (D) Renewable 
energy, natural resources, and environment; (E) Agriculture systems and 
technology; and (F) Agriculture economics and rural communities.
    To the maximum extent practicable, NIFA, in coordination with the 
Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE), will make 
grants for high priority research, education, and extension, taking 
into consideration, when available, the determinations made by the 
National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics 
Advisory Board. The authority to carry out this program has been 
delegated to NIFA through the Undersecretary for REE.
    The program authorizes grants for FY 2009-12, of which the 
Secretary may retain no more than 4 percent for administrative costs. 
Funds will be available for obligation for a two-year period beginning 
in the fiscal year for which funds are first made available. Grants 
will be awarded on the basis of merit, quality, and relevance and may 
have terms of up to 10 years.
    Subject to the availability of appropriations to carry out the AFRI 
program, the Secretary may award grants to State agricultural 
experiment stations; colleges and universities; university research 
foundations; other research institutions and organizations; Federal 
agencies; national laboratories; private organizations or corporations; 
individuals; or any group consisting of two or more of the 
aforementioned entities. Please see the details in the Request for 
Applications.

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    NIFA is holding a public meeting to obtain comments to consider in 
developing the Fiscal Year 2013 solicitations for the AFRI competitive 
grants program. The meeting is open to the public. Written comments and 
suggestions on issues that may be considered in the meeting may be 
submitted to the NIFA Docket Clerk at the address above.

Implementation Plans

    NIFA plans to consider stakeholder input received from this public 
meeting as well as other written comments in developing the Fiscal Year 
2013 solicitations for this program.

    Done at Washington, DC, this 25th day of January 2012.
Chavonda Jacobs-Young,
Acting Director National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
[FR Doc. 2012-2100 Filed 1-31-12; 8:45 am]
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