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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2002 Annual Performance Report & 2003, 2004, 2005 Annual Performance Plans
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Introduction

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE

FY 2002 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT and
FY 2003, FY 2004, and FY 2005 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS  

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) was established on November 2, 1953, pursuant to authority vested in the Secretary of Agriculture by 5 U.S.C. 301 and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953, and other authorities.

 ARS is the principal in-house research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Congress first authorized federally supported agricultural research in the Organic Act of 1862, which established what is now USDA.  That statute directed the Commissioner of Agriculture "...  To acquire and preserve in his Department all information he can obtain by means of books and correspondence, and by practical and scientific experiments...".  The scope of USDA's agricultural research programs has been expanded and extended more than 60 times since the Department was created. 

ARS research is authorized by the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1862 (7 U.S.C. 2201 note), Agricultural Research Act of 1935 (7 U.S.C. 427), Research and Marketing Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-733), as amended (7 U.S.C. 427, 1621 note), Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-113), as amended (7 U.S.C. 1281 note), Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198) (7 U.S.C. 3101 note), Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624) (7 U.S.C. 1421 note), Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-127), and Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-185).  ARS derived most of its objectives from statutory language, specifically the “Purposes of Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education” set forth in Section 801 of FAIR.

The ARS mission is to conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to:  ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.

The Agency’s research focuses on achieving the goals identified in the USDA and Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area Strategic Plans.  The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) mandates each agency to establish general goals that will contribute to achieving beneficial societal outcomes that shape and drive the work of the Agency during the five years covered by the plan.

Verification, Validation and Program Evaluation:  ARS conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  This process involves customer input to help keep the research focused on the needs of the American food and agricultural system.  Each of the approximately 1,100 research projects, which are organized into 22 National Programs, undergoes a thorough external peer review conducted by the Office of Scientific Quality Review before new or renewed activities are begun.  All ARS employees, including the scientific workforce, are subject to annual performance reviews.  Senior scientists undergo a rigorous peer review (Research Position Evaluation System (RPES)) on a 3- to 5-year cycle.  These processes ensure the continuing high quality output of the ARS scientific workforce.

The National Programs focus the work of the Agency on achieving the goals defined in the ARS Strategic Plan.  The research priorities for each National Program are established with extensive input from customers, stakeholders, and partners, which is received, in part, at a series of National Program Workshops.  A detailed Action Plan developed for each National Program is available on the ARS home page, www.ars.usda.gov, open “Research.” 

Key External Factors that Affect the Ability of ARS to Achieve its Goals and Objectives:  The future of American agriculture depends on its ability to respond to critical external factors.  Effective planning within ARS will take these factors into consideration when establishing and executing the Agency’s research programs.

Globalization:  The globalization of all aspects of the food and fiber system is having a major impact on American agriculture.  Profound changes are seen worldwide from competitive markets around the world, from diseases not limited to national boundaries, to population growth and evolving diets.  These changes have led to a dramatically new trade environment, threats of exotic diseases and pests to domestic production, and international controversies over the use of biotechnology.  To remain competitive, the food and agriculture sector needs to take these developments into consideration. 

Information Access and Communication:  The explosion of information technology, the worldwide use of the Internet, and the major advancements of cyberspace communications are changing the way private industry, government, and individuals conduct daily business.  Vast amounts of information soon will be available in “real time,” more people from around the world will be able to retrieve the information, and advanced computer software will make the information more useful and meaningful.  Advancements in communication technology offer benefits and opportunities for everyone involved in the American food and agriculture sector.

Workforce:  A very important employment issue is the need to recruit and retain a highly skilled and technically well trained Federal workforce.  The relatively low U.S. unemployment rate makes recruitment highly competitive.  This competitive environment is expected to require more employer emphasis on recruitment, retention, student employment, upward mobility, and training/retraining programs.   The public sector will need to recruit a diversity of people and to maintain a highly qualified and technically competent workforce.  Expanding job opportunities for women and minorities in science and engineering will help to tap the Nation’s human potential.

Technology:  Advances in technology—such as bioengineering, precision agriculture, remote sensing, and decision modeling—can enable agricultural production to enhance nutrition, protect the environment, and continue to make the food supply safe.  Biotechnology offers great promise for increasing production efficiency, improving food quality, and enhancing nutritional value.  However, concerns about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have had a marked impact on international exports of affected commodities, and prompted questions about the potential benefits and risks.  Precision agriculture, remote sensing, and decision modeling will both increase production efficiency and mitigate adverse environmental impacts of agriculture.  Public concern about food safety has led to new rapid detection technologies that, when fully implemented, will make the food supply increasingly safer. 

Changing Demographics:  Growing global populations, demographic changes, and economic growth will substantially increase the demand for agricultural products, thus creating new markets for U.S. products. At the same time, however, increased agricultural competitiveness from other countries will force U.S. agriculture to become more efficient.  Because arable agricultural land is limited, the growing demands will increase pressure to maximize yields, protect marginal areas from unsustainable development, and minimize the harmful effects of agriculture on the environment and the natural resource base.

Changing Structure of Agriculture:  The structure of the food and fiber system—from farm to market—changed dramatically in the last decades of the 20th century, and is likely to continue.  Change can be seen all across the food and agriculture sectors.  An increasing share of U.S. food and fiber is being produced on fewer, larger, and more specialized farms.  Farms are larger, and production methods are more specialized.  Production and marketing are more vertically and horizontally integrated.  Concentration is greater causing sharp declines in the number of buyers and sellers of a product.  Consumer preferences, new technology, and global markets bring about continuing changes that affect farmers, processors, marketers, and consumers.

Congressional Support:  The ability of ARS to respond to the many and diverse needs of producers and consumers is determined by the level of Congressional support.  As a consequence of inflation and higher operating costs associated with advances in research equipment and technology, the ARS scientific workforce, which reached a maximum of about 3,400 scientists in 1970, decreased by almost 40 percent during the ensuing 25 years.  More recently, appropriations have allowed the Agency to expand its research program and hire additional scientists bring the current number of scientists to over 2,100.

Drug-Free Workplace:  ARS will continue to use the applicable contract clauses and regulations to ensure compliance with drug-free workplace debarment and suspension requirements in all of its acquisition programs.

General Comments:  In January 1998, ARS requested permission from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “to describe specific and tangible products, steps, intermediate goals, and/or accomplishments that will demonstrate that the Agency has successfully met each Performance Measure/Goal in a given fiscal year.”  With OMB’s concurrence, the ARS is able to use narrative descriptions of intermediate outcomes and indicators of progress instead of numerical metrics as specified in GPRA.  The FY 2002 accomplishments reflect actual achievements against the FY 2002 indicators previously identified.  The indicators shown will serve as measurable milestones during FY 2003, FY 2004, and FY 2005.  The research and technology transfer activities listed in this exhibit are not all inclusive of the Agency’s work.  The indicators reflect, but do not adequately capture, the broad range of basic research that underpins most of the Agency’s work.  The following qualitative indicators are specific accomplishments that the Agency anticipates achieving in the designated fiscal year, which constitute milestones or indicators of progress towards meeting the Agency’s goals, objectives, and initiatives.

Only Federal employees were involved in the preparation of this report and plan.


Table of Contents

Strategic Goal/
Management Initiative

FY 2002 Annual Performance Report and
ARS FY 2003, FY 2004, and FY 2005 Annual Performance Plans

Goal 1: To Promote an Agricultural Food and Fiber System That is Productive and Highly Competitive in the Global Economy.

Performance Goal 1.1.1.1: Demonstrate integrated systems and transfer them to users.

Performance Goal 1.1.1.2: Demonstrate and transfer to users computer-based simulation models and decision-support systems.

Performance Goal 1.1.2.1:  Demonstrate techniques to control or eliminate preharvest and postharvest insects and diseases and increase market quality and product longevity.

Performance Goal 1.1.2.2:  Demonstrate technologies to control quarantine pests.

Performance Goal 1.1.2.3:  New and improved diagnostic tests are developed and available.

Performance Goal 1.1.3.1:  Demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

Performance Goal 1.1.3.2:  Provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve the grading systems for agricultural commodities and products.

Performance Goal 1.1.3.3:  Demonstrate methods to measure the critical processing and end-use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing system and the processing industry.

Performance Goal 1.1.4.1:  Strategic alliances formed with specific foreign institutions, leading to the joint development of germplasm and value-added technologies, mutually protected through intellectual property agreements.

Performance Goal 1.2.1.1:  Experimentally develop and demonstrate production of new, improved, and alternative farm animals, crops, and horticultural products.

Performance Goal 1.2.1.2:  Experimentally demonstrate new and improved management practices for production, harvesting, and postharvest handling procedures of these commodities.

Performance Goal 1.2.2.1:  Experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

Goal II: To Promote a Safe and Secure Food and Fiber System.

Performance Goal 2.1.1.1:  Demonstrate increases in productivity above current levels, using sustainable technologies.

Performance Goal 2.1.1.2:  Demonstrate a more efficient and cost-effective use of resource inputs while increasing productivity above current levels.

Performance Goal 2.1.2.1:  Demonstrate new integrated technologies to protect plants, animals, and ecosystems.

Performance Goal 2.1.2.2:  Demonstrate scientific measures, practices, and systems to achieve humane care of food animals.

Performance Goal 2.1.3.1:  Collections of well-documented germplasms of importance to U.S. agricultural security are readily available to scientists and breeders for research and development.

Performance Goal 2.1.3.2:  Documented DNA base sequences of agricultural importance.

Goal III: To Promote a Healthy Population Through Improved Nutrition.

Performance Goal 3.1.1.1:  Indicators of function determined and related to diet and health.

Performance Goal 3.1.2.1:  Transfer new measurement techniques and data to users and release results of surveys.

Performance Goal 3.1.3.1:  Improved nutritional quality of animal and plant products.

Goal IV: To Foster an Agricultural System That Protects Natural Resources and the Environment.

Performance Goal 4.1.1.1:  Demonstrate concepts and on-farm agricultural technologies and management practices that maintain and enhance the environment and natural resource base.

Performance Goal 4.1.1.2:  Experimentally demonstrate the appropriateness of watershed-scale technologies and practices that protect the environment and natural resources.

Performance Goal 4.1.2.1:  Determine the extent to which management of croplands and grazinglands affects production and absorption of trace gases that may alter the global environment.

Performance Goal 4.1.2.2:  Determine how trace gases, climate changes, weather variability, and other environmental stressors impact agricultural ecosystems and water and nutrient availability for croplands and grazinglands.

Performance Goal 4.1.2.3:  Demonstrate techniques that can improve efficiency.

Performance Goal 4.1.3.1:  Demonstrate cropland and grazingland management strategies that improve productivity and efficiency of croplands and grazinglands. 

Performance Goal 4.1.3.2:  Provide information to public agencies and private organizations and directly to farmers and ranchers that will lead to adoption of improved cropland and grazingland management strategies.

Performance Goal 4.2.1.1:  Risk-reduction strategies and methods transferred to the Nation's agricultural industry.

Performance Goal 4.2.2.1:  Improve strategies and technologies that reduce the effects of extreme weather variability.

Performance Goal 4.3.1.1:  Deliver integrated pest management strategies that are cost-effective and protect natural resources, human health, and the environment.

Performance Goal 4.3.2.1:  Demonstrate the effectiveness of integrated agricultural production systems in the improvement of natural resources and protection of the environment.

Performance Goal 4.3.2.2:  Provide computer-based models and decision-support systems to farmers, public agencies, and private organizations.

Performance Goal 4.3.3.1:  Develop and demonstrate management practices and technologies to effectively handle, store, treat, and apply wastes to obtain consistent economic benefits, while protecting environmental quality, human health, and animal health.

Performance Goal 4.3.3.2:  Demonstrate the conversion of agricultural waste into liquid fuels and industrial feedstocks.

Goal V:  To Increase the Capacity of Communities, Families, and Individuals to Enhance Their Economic Well-being and Quality of Life.

Performance Goal 5.1.1.1:  Experimentally demonstrate the successful operation of small-scale production and processing systems, evaluate small scale animal and plant production systems, and enhance high-value agricultural products.

Performance Goal 5.1.2.1:  Make information on ARS research results and inventions available electronically via the Internet and similar resources.

Performance Goal 5.1.2.2:  Provide more cost-effective and efficient public information and technology transfer.

Performance Goal 5.1.2.3:  Research programs include information and technology transfer considerations.

Performance Goal 5.1.2.4:  An ARS plan to achieve the requirements of GPEA will be submitted to the Department by October 15. 2000.

Performance Goal 5.1.2.5:  Implementation of the requirements of the GPEA will be accomplished by October 21, 2003.

Performance Goal 5.1.3.1: Expand the types of agreements used by ARS and delegate signatory authority to the lowest feasible level.

Goal VI:  Effectively Marshal the Diverse Capabilities and Resources of ARS.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.1:  Maintain up-to-date data on NAL customer information needs and satisfaction.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.2:  Integrate customer data into continuous refinement of NAL operations.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.3:  Develop and improve NAL information delivery systems.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.4:  Develop an Agricultural Subject Headings thesaurus.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.5:  Increase collaboration via AgNIC (Agriculture Network Information Center).

Performance Goal 6.2.1.6:  Develop NAL programs and services for previously under-served audiences.

Performance Goal 6.2.1.7:  Support increased diversity in librarianship and information management.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.1:  Expand acquisition of information in all formats by NAL.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.2:  Gain space for collection growth.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.3:  Preserve and secure collections.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.4:  Increase number of AGRICOLA records.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.5:  Increase links to full-text electronic content in the AGRICOLA database.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.6:  Continue modernization of the Abraham Lincoln Building.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.7:  Ensure systematic upgrade of NAL equipment.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.8:  Ensure security of NAL data and equipment.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.9:  Implement new electronic library management system with minimal disruption to NAL customers and staff/operations.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.10:  Refine NAL administrative and business processes, organizational structures, and functions.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.11:  Develop NAL Intranet.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.12:  Ensure equitable opportunities for NAL staff development.

Performance Goal 6.2.2.13:  Implement NAL staff succession plan.

Performance Goal 6.3.1.1:  Annual conferences of public and private individuals are convened to discuss major researchable issues in agriculture and articulate approaches to addressing these problems.

Performance Goal 6.3.2.1:  Recommendations are implemented and processes and practices are modified as appropriate.

Performance Goal 6.3.2.2:  ARS managers, supervisors, and employees are better informed on EEO/CR issues.

Performance Goal 6.3.2.3:  Recommendations resulting from the agency-wide on-site EEO compliance review are implemented.

Performance Goal 6.3.2.4:  A comprehensive, fully integrated system is installed to assist in analyzing workforce profiles, analyzing adverse impacts, and monitoring every aspect of discrimination complaint processing.

Performance Goal 6.3.3.1:  Criteria and priorities are identified.

Performance Goal 6.3.3.2:  Priority projects are proposed for funding in ARS annual building and facility request.

Performance Goal 6.3.4.1:  Identify core capability requirements and develop a scientific staff to meet long-term research needs.

Performance Goal 6.3.4.2:  Train postdoctoral students through the ARS Research Associate Program and competitively select 10 percent each year to fill full-time positions.

Performance Goal 6.3.5.1:  Customer participation in planning processes.

Performance Goal 6.3.5.2:  Strategic plan is developed and communicated to REE customers.

Performance Goal 6.3.5.3:  Formal feedback is solicited from REE customers.

Performance Goal 6.3.6.1:  Panel peer reviews are conducted on all research projects before implementation and subsequently every five years.  The majority of the peer reviewers are external to ARS.

Performance Goal 6.3.6.2:  Review of the productivity, quality, and impact of individual scientists is conducted as scheduled in the Research Position Evaluation System (RPES).

Performance Goal 6.3.7.1:  Implement integrated management systems in USDA.

Performance Goal 6.3.7.2:  Correct in a timely manner internal control deficiencies.

Performance Goal 6.3.7.3:  Make available reliable cost accounting information.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.1:  ARS will identify and generate a comprehensive directory of organizations that serve the under-served who are potential users of ARS research.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.2:  ARS will convene a national outreach workshop that will bring together representatives of under-served populations.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.3:  In FY 2001, each ARS Area will convene Area workshops to identify researchable issues of interest to under-served populations.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.4:  In FY 2000 (using 1999 data), establish baseline data for extramural agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and Letters of Agreement with organizations serving historically under‑served populations.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.5:  In FY 2001, ARS will increase its extramural agreements to organizations which serve under‑served populations by no less than 20 percent over its established (FY 1999) baseline.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.6:  In FY 2001, ARS will show an increase in the number of invitations extended to representatives of under‑served populations to participate in program workshops, symposia, project/program reviews, and site/ location reviews.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.7:  In FY 2001, ARS will show an increase in the number of research collaborations and technology transfer activities focused on meeting the special needs of this target population.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.8:  In FY 2000, ARS will inform all senior managers and SYs of their roles and responsibilities under the outreach plan.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.9:  In FY 2001, ARS will expand access to research information by the historically under‑served organizations.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.10:  ARS will expand outreach efforts to interest under‑served students in agriculture/food science.

Performance Goal 6.3.8.11:  ARS will work with educational institutions and community‑based organizations serving target populations to identify barriers and develop strategies to get information to under‑served populations.

Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2003.

Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2004.


Goal I

GOAL I:  To Promote an Agricultural Food and Fiber System That Is Productive and Highly Competitive in the Global Economy.

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

      FY 2003

    FY 2004

    Soil, Water & Air Sciences    

              794

              780

            787

    Plant Sciences

         40,510

         47,653

       51,635

    Animal Sciences

         14,940

         19,185

       22,453

    Commodity Conversion & Delivery

       102,779

       115,373

     118,330

    Human Nutrition

                0

                0

              0

    Integration of Agricultural Systems

           1,097

           1,126 

         1,128

               Total

     $160,120

     $184,117

   $194,333

    FTEs

           1,417  

           1,458

        1,486

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results for FY 2002:  This goal is the focus of much of ARS’ research related to production agriculture.  Under Goal I, 29 Indicators are aligned under 12 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 29 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Sixty-seven significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction of this plan.

OBJECTIVE 1.1:  Strengthen competitiveness:  “Enhance the competitiveness of the United States agriculture and food industry in an increasingly competitive world environment.”

STRATEGY 1.1.1:  Cost-effective agricultural production systems:  Develop new knowledge and integrated technologies for more efficient and economically sustainable agricultural production systems of all sizes.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.1.1:  Demonstrate integrated systems and transfer them to users.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will quantify stress responses of cattle, swine, and poultry to specific management practices and to the entire production system.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists of the Livestock Behavior Research Unit, West Lafayette, Indiana, published measures of well-being of animals kept in specific management systems.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was transferred to the industry and aided in making choices related to the tail-docking of dairy cattle.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop technologies to enhance artificial insemination for the sheep industry.

develop selection methods to increase litter size in swine.

transfer to producers information for improving carcass quality in Brahman cattle.

have recommendations on weed control and fertility management for organic producers.

have information and recommendations on the performance of a number of management systems.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop improved methods to estimate daily yields of herds using robotic milking or reduced sampling.

estimate direct and material breed efficiency effects of four types of cross-herd ewes using intensive and extensive production systems.

During FY 2005, ARS will

provide completed feed reference database for the Feed Information Technology System for corn silage and alfalfa.

transfer to beef cattle producers decision support software for evaluating composite breed formation and evaluation.

develop mathematical models to rate animal well-being for several production practices.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.1.2:  Demonstrate and transfer to users computer-based simulation models and decision support systems.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will

provide updates for the Crop Sequence Calculator and expand this decision aid’s capacity and capability.

develop four decision aids for peanut production and marketing, and a baseline for the optimal time path for resource allocation for small livestock/crop farms in Western Oregon.

STRATEGY 1.1.2:  Preharvest and postharvest control of pests:  Develop preharvest and postharvest technologies and processes to meet domestic needs and reduce or overcome non-tariff trade and quarantine barriers caused by pests (insects, weeds, pathogens, etc.).

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.2.1:  Demonstrate techniques to control or eliminate preharvest and postharvest insects and diseases, and increase market quality and product longevity.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

continue development of post-harvest insect control methods for stored grain and other commodities to replace insecticides and methyl bromide that are being phased out because of environmental and health concerns.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  New formulations of the insect growth regulator (IGR) methoprene helped control grain beetles, and data are now being used to support the reintroduction of methoprene into the stored grain market.  A volatile formulation of the IGR hydroprene (Pointsource) registered for cockroach control also was effective against the red flour beetle and the confused flour beetle, two common insect pests in food storage areas.  These species were added to the product label.  Thiamethoxam, a new neo‑nicotenoid compound used as a seed treatment for field crop pests, also controlled stored‑product beetles, and could protect stored seeds from economic damage.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Development of these biorational pesticides provides additional options for the protection of stored grain.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Pheromone monitoring programs were developed and tested in a commercial warehouse and flour mill.  The data generated was used to determine the influence of trap type, location, and number of traps on insect capture and the interpretation of capture data.  Monitoring programs outside of commercial facilities were also conducted to determine the significance of insect immigration.  Some additional issues being addressed are the relationship between insect movement patterns and trap capture and the relationship between trap capture and product infestation.  Studies are also being conducted to measure the probability of a passing insect being captured by a pheromone trap.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Results of this research will help to make recommendations about the optimal trap types, attractants, locations, and trap numbers to maximize the quality of information generated by monitoring programs.

develop environmentally friendly biopesticides and natural product-based pesticides.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Obtained a U.S. patent for a novel fungicidal saponin (CAY-1) that was purified from cayenne pepper.  Determined that CAY-1 is active at low levels against fungal pathogens affecting strawberries, blueberries, and grapes.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Successful field and greenhouse trials could lead to commercial use of crude or semipurified cayenne extracts as a new fungicide treatment on these crops.  This would provide a novel fungicide and enhance the economic value of cayenne pepper to farmers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Evaluated the compound sampangine and two analogs for activity against agriculturally important phytopathogens.  One compound (patent being written) had excellent antifungal activity against several economically important fungal pathogens.  Further evaluation of this compound and its active analogs was completed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Transferred technology for miniaturized bioassays through collaborations and training of other scientists.

develop and demonstrate post-harvest insect control technology for use on stored commodities, storage facilities, and food processing plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Manhattan, Kansas, participated in a series of flour mill related studies that can be used to evaluate treatments, interpret trap catches, and determine impacts of insect movements outside the facilities on infestations within.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies will aid in development of methyl bromide alternatives for flourmills by providing information on when and why pest populations rebound after treatment.

During FY 2003, ARS will

elucidate and manipulate internal mechanisms of resistance to reduce postharvest decay.

reduce postharvest losses and improve quality through resistant cultivars.

continue development of post-harvest insect control methods for stored grain and other stored commodities to replace insecticides and methyl bromide being prohibited because of environmental and health concerns.

develop environmentally-friendly biopesticides and natural product-based pesticides.

During FY 2004, ARS will

continue development of postharvest insect control methods for stored grain and other commodities to replace insecticides and methyl bromide that are being phased out because of environmental and health concerns.

develop and demonstrate new fumigants and other insect control technology to control stored product pests of concern.

develop environmentally friendly biopesticides and natural product-based pesticides.

elucidate, manipulate, or induce existing internal mechanisms of resistance to reduce postharvest decay and improve the quality and longevity of commodities.

identify physical and biologically based approaches that enhance the performance of biocontrol agents against preharvest and postharvest pathogens.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop practical, effective, economical alternatives to methyl bromide for soil fumigation.

develop practical, effective, economical alternatives to methyl bromide for postharvest treatment (including quarantine).

develop environmentally friendly biopesticides and natural product-based pesticides.

elucidate, manipulate, or induce existing internal mechanisms of resistance to reduce postharvest decay and improve the quality and longevity of commodities.

identify physical and biologically based approaches that enhance the performance of biocontrol agents against preharvest and postharvest pathogens.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.2.2:  Demonstrate technologies to control quarantine pests.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

develop and demonstrate new fumigants and other insect control technology to control quarantine pests of  concern.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Parlier, California, have demonstrated that heat treatment, which is effective in controlling insects in fresh fruit commodities but generally causes unacceptable fruit damage, had no adverse effects on fruit when combined with low oxygen and high carbon dioxide.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This new type heat treatment shows promise as an alternative to methyl bromide fumigation for quarantine treatment of peaches and nectarines.  

continue to develop alternatives to methyl bromide for weed management.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The invasive perennial vines, kudzu, redvine, and trumpetcreeper are difficult to control with conventional weed control methods and are becoming problematic in the southern United States.  ARS scientists at Stoneville, Mississippi, tested the bioherbicidal fungus, Myrothecium verrucaria, in combination with glyphosate for synergistic interactions. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The weeds were controlled (94 percent, 86 percent, and 78 percent, respectively) in field sites that were infested by simultaneous application of glyphosate and corn oil emulsion formulations containing the fungus.  These results suggest that it may be impossible to greatly enhance the bioherbicidal potential of M. verrucaria using gylphosate as a disease synergist, thus saving land managers millions of dollars each year. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The search for methyl bromide alternatives in vegetable crop systems has led to the exploration of alternative technologies, including solarization.  Studies were initiated to evaluate the combined effect of heat treatments and durations of exposure on the viability of tubers of purple nutsedge and yellow nutsedge, the primary means of reproduction for these weeds.  Purple nutsedge tubers were shown to be more tolerant of elevated temperatures than were yellow nutsedge tubers. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Solarization cannot be relied upon as a means of reducing nutsedge tuber viability due to the inability to raise soil temperatures for critical durations of exposure. 

continue to screen biological control agents for the mitigation of witches broom (Crinipellis perniciosa) and frosty pod (Moniliopthora roreri) under greenhouse conditions and in overseas test plots.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Large-scale trials of Trichoderma as a candidate control agent (mycogenic) have been initiated in Brazil and Peru.  In both cases substantial reduction in brooms and new infection have been noted.  Innovative application technologies, which hasten colonization of control agents, have also been perfected and applied.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  No commercial fungicides are effective in disease control for cocoa.  Copper sulfate is widely used, but has highly negative environmental impact.  Effective, low-cost, environmentally benign pesticides and biopesticides are urgently required.

initiate research to develop competitive endophytes for controlling black pod (Phytopthora spp.) in cocoa plantations in the Caribbean and West Africa.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cooperative agreements have been established with African, French, and private industry partners for trials at IITA in Abidan, Nigeria, and in Cameroon.  Work is ongoing.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Same as indicator (1), above.  Currently, trials with biopesticides are underway in collaboration with partners from industry, France and the Government of Cameroon in West Africa.

continue research to identify, assay, and field trial control agents for coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) with emphasis upon both parasitoids and insect pathogens.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Artificial diets have been produced for Cepholomia, a parasitic wasp specific to the borer.  Releases have been made in Colombia and other countries in Central America.  An effective molecular map of Hypothenemus has been developed and published, which is a necessary tool in developing meaningful biological control strategies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Endosulfans are widely used to control coffee berry borer.  These pesticides are dangerous to human and animal health, relatively expensive, and of decreasing effectiveness.  For economic reasons alone, cost-effective methods of integrated pest management are urgently required, especially in view of declining wholesale coffee prices.

continue coffee berry borer field trials, including limited scale releases of control agents in Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, and Jamaica.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  These trials are continuing and Mexico (State of Chiapas) has been added to the field trials.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Most classical biological control strategies fail because large-scale field trials, under varying environments, are not carried out.

continue research to characterize and classify significant collections of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) in cooperation with European and South American collaborators using genetic mapping techniques, with a view to identifying important characteristics linked to disease resistance, quality, flavonoids, and postharvest stability.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Collections in Trinidad and Puerto Rico have been mapped.  Mapping is ongoing in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and West Africa.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Cocoa has suffered as a crop due to a poorly developed genetic base.  Furthermore, modern breeding practices have not been implemented because existing international collections are incorrectly characterized in a large number of instances, making intelligent selections virtually impossible.

continue research to express genetic markers for resistance to Crinipellis, Phytopthora, and Moniliopthora.  Develop collaborative relationships with foreign collaborators to explore, breed, characterize, and introduce improved varietals in important genetic collections.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cooperative agreements have been signed with CIRAD, France for the development of BAC libraries, micro-satellites, INIAP, Ecuador, for Crinipellis resistance, CATIE-Costa Rica for genetic diversity studies, IITA-Nigeria for Phytopthora resistance.

Enriched micro-satellite maps have already been produced.  Some Quality Trait Loci have already been linked to resistance but will not be published until 2004.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Virtually all breeding to date has been for quality and productivity characteristics.  Establishing disease resistance in the coffee crop is urgent if it is to survive at any level as a commercial enterprise in the Western Hemisphere.  In Africa, the genetic base is dangerously narrow with little demonstrated Phytopthora tolerance.

continue to develop the Tropical Agricultural Research Station in Puerto Rico as a hemispheric source for disease-free tree crop genetic material for transfer to alternative crop programs in the Americas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A full time curator has been recruited in Mayaguez.  In Miami, the quarantine greenhouse has been rebuilt, allowing for the conservation and dissemination of clonal material, budwood, and grafts.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Sharing genetic material between countries in the Americas has been virtually impossible due to a lack of certified, disease free breeding material.

initiate soil and water conservation research with relevance to integrated pest management and sound agricultural husbandry applications to tropical tree crops in the Americas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In cooperation with industry, a micronutrient program has been initiated in Brazil.  In cooperation with the Government of Peru and the U.S. Embassy in Lima, an agro-forestry program has been initiated in the Amazonian region.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Little is known about the optimal cultural requirements for cocoa.  Micronutrients play a key role in the viability of other perennial tree crops and most likely will be significant in the case of cocoa, which is well suited to a mixed forestry environment.

continue a program of research and technology development and transfer to cooperating Federal and international organizations, to evaluate control methodologies involving integrated pest management directed to illicit cultivation of coca and opium in South America.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS has supported the Department of State since 1987, by interagency agreement, in developing herbicidal applications, which are effective and environmentally safe for illicit crop eradication in South America.  A large number of granular and foliar agents have been evaluated both under simulated and field conditions.  The Government of Colombia has agreed to use glyphosate, a low toxicity herbicide, for the eradication of both crops.  Glyphosate is essentially harmless to human beings and vertebrates and quickly biodegrades in soil and water.  Technology transfer, through both the United Nations and the Department of State, has also been accomplished, which has included the development of appropriate application technologies and herbicidal adjuvants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Results of the research and development program have been widely reported in interagency memoranda, to the Government of Colombia and the United Nations and in peer reviewed journals.

continue research and technology development in cooperation with U.S. land management and Federal enforcement agencies to identify, characterize, and control illicit cannabis grown in the U.S.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Most illicit cannabis grown in the United States is grown under canopy or in buildings as a concealment strategy.  Currently, no technology exists to adequately perform remote sensing under these conditions.  Barring technological breakthrough, the program will not be renewed after calendar year 2004.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Aerial sensory techniques, applicable to public lands for the detection of cannabis in open terrain, have already been developed and have been provided to the Air National Guard, various state agencies and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Technology transfer for this portion of the research program is essentially complete.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify at least two candidate organisms available for field trial release and evaluation for the control of witches broom (Crinipellis perniciosa) and frosty pod (Monilopthora roreri), the major diseases of cocoa in Central and South America.

establish one scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, in cooperation with U.S. cocoa trade associations and counterpart European research institutions, to evaluate and field trial candidate organisms for the control of black pod rot (Phytopthora megakarya), the principal disease problem for cocoa producers in West Africa.

conduct field trials on at least one pathogen with control potential for coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), the most serious worldwide coffee pest in terms of total coffee crop, in cooperation with the Colombian Coffee Federation and its research arm, Centro de Investigation de Café (CENICAFE).

establish field trials of selected clonal cocoa materials to screen for resistance to Crinipellis and Monilopthora in Latin American countries, leading to a directed breeding program for cocoa with the goal of establishing disease tolerance.

establish spray technology suitable for delivering both chemical and biological control agents for cocoa and coffee pests, and complete technology transfer to recipient foreign institutions.

continue to develop alternatives to methyl bromide for weed management.

develop and demonstrate new fumigants and other insect control technology to control pests of quarantine concern.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop and demonstrate new fumigants and other insect control technology to control quarantine pests of concern.

develop alternatives to methyl bromide for weed management. 

in collaboration with counterparts in Brazil and Peru, demonstrate that the use of competitive mycogens, along with improved cultural practice which can reduce the incidence of Witches Broom (Crinipellis Perniciosa).

in collaboration with its counterparts in the United Kingdom, France, and Brazil, produce an integrated cocoa genetic database, Web-accessible, linking phenotypic and molecular data.  The data will be in public domain and widely available to breeders, worldwide.

identify at least four quality trait loci (QTLs) associated with disease resistance.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a complete functional map of the cocoa genome.

publish a complete characterization of all commercially significant accessions in each major cocoa collection worldwide.  The development of this taxonomic guide will be based upon accepted molecular techniques utilizing internationally agreed markers.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.2.3:  New and improved diagnostic tests are developed and available.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

commercialize a detection kit for detection 3 methylisoborneol.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Research is continuing with the CRADA partner, Abraxis, in Warmister, Pennsylvania, using monoclonal antibodies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Problems related to the level of sensitivity of the test has delayed field testing for about six months.

further expand diagnostic abilities by applying new technologies when appropriate to detect disease agents of high consequence to animal health.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Plum Island, New York; Athens, Georgia; Laramie, Wyoming; Beltsville and Frederick, Maryland; and Ames, Iowa, working in collaboration with the various universities, have developed and now validating rapid onsite tests that detect and identify important animal, plant and foodborne pathogens

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Development of these new diagnostic rapid detection technologies will provide animal health officials in regulatory capacities (APHIS and State agencies) with greater ability to determine if a disease agent is present, where it is located, and when it is eradicated (if eradication is possible).  This will aid in ensuring that trading partners will have confidence in our ability to detect and control disease agents.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to document progress in surveys of both horn fly and tick populations for pesticide resistance-associated mutations in both the sodium channel and acetylcholinesterase (ACHE), and conduct analysis of the fitness of resistant ticks and horn flies.

continue to transfer technology potentially leading to development of an easy-to-use, field-ready identification kit using monoclonal antibodies in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to distinguish screwworms from other wound inhabiting flies.

develop improved detection and identification tests for plant pathogens in commodities, seeds, and other plant products.

develop/transfer technology for detecting the presence of pathogen spores and inoculums.

develop Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to map the association between larval habitats of biting midges and the animal viruses they transmit, such as vesicular stomatitis and West Nile Virus.

test decision-making algorithms using a GIS-based system based upon Formosan subterranean termite field studies and environmental factors.

test and transfer GIS and surveillance and detection technology to the Binational USDA-APHIS Screwworm Eradication Program.

develop rapid molecular-based tests to survey fly, mosquito and tick populations for pesticide resistant mutations and the presence of animal or human pathogens.

develop rapid molecular or biochemical surveillance kits for identifying by species, screwworm and other potential invading flesh flies.

determine the ability of different diagnostic procedures to detect agents by performing full scale evaluations of the technology, either under experimental situations or by field evaluation in countries where the disease exists.

During FY 2004, ARS will

design and test improved decision-making algorithms using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to rapidly detect and respond to outbreaks of insects that transmit diseases to, or damage, livestock or people.

develop and evaluate molecular and biochemical tests for rapidly and accurately detecting animal  pathogens and pesticide resistance in arthropods affecting the health of animals or humans.

transfer the validated technologies to various university and state laboratories for implementation into their existing diagnostic procedures for animal health surveillance.

develop improved detection and identification tests for plant pathogens in commodities, seeds, and other plant products.

develop/transfer technology for detecting the presence of pathogen spores and inoculums.

During FY 2005, ARS will

evaluate the use of dogs for detecting off-flavors from catfish ponds.

develop the above validated tests into field tests that can be put into the hands of first responder and border patrol officials to use in routine inspection of products. Make recommendations on diagnostic procedures and ensure that the technologies are transferred to the appropriate agencies.

design and test improved decision-making algorithms using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to rapidly detect and respond to outbreaks of insects that transmit diseases to, or damage, livestock or people.

develop and evaluate molecular and biochemical tests for rapidly and accurately detecting animal  pathogens and pesticide resistance in arthropods affecting the health of animals or humans.

develop improved detection and identification tests for plant pathogens in commodities, seeds, and other plant products.

develop/transfer technology for detecting the presence of pathogen spores and inoculums.

STRATEGY 1.1.3:  Measurement of product quality and marketability:  Improve quality, uniformity, value, and marketability of commodities and other agricultural products.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.3.1:  Demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers in Beltsville, Maryland, found that combining hydrodynamic pressure processing (HDP) with aging yielded optimal tenderization of beef and pork cuts 1 to 2 weeks sooner than aging alone.  HDP treatment was more effective in improving tenderness than extended aging alone.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Significant reductions in aging time could translate into tremendous refrigeration energy savings because of the shorter time required to deliver acceptably tender meat to the retail markets.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  At the request of the Almond Board of California, researchers at Raleigh, North Carolina, conducted experiments and documented the percent reduction that various processing methods have on reducing aflatoxin in processed almonds.  Aflatoxin reductions in processed almonds were consistently in excess of 90 percent when the basic industry sorting methods were used. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The European Union indicated that it would consider increasing the maximum aflatoxin limit for imported almonds to the current standards allowed for peanuts if documented evidence can be produced showing that processing methods reduce aflatoxin in almonds.  Results were incorporated into a document developed by the Almond Board of California and sent to the European Commission for review.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop innovative intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of animal products, including ready-to-eat foods, while reducing the impact on quality and consumer acceptance.

develop intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of dairy products, particularly cheese and develop strategies that can be used by small processors.

demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop innovative intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of animal products, including ready-to-eat foods, while reducing the impact on quality and consumer acceptance.

develop intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of dairy products, particularly cheese and develop strategies that can be used by small processors.

demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop innovative intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of animal products, including ready-to-eat foods, while reducing the impact on quality and consumer acceptance.

develop intervention strategies for improving the microbial safety of dairy products, particularly cheese, and develop strategies that can be used by small processors.

demonstrate postharvest technologies that add value and improve quality.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.3.2:  Provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve the grading systems for agricultural commodities and products.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve grading systems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Concern about the accuracy and precision associated with results from grade samples taken from farmers’ stock peanut lots led the Federal State Inspection Service (FSIS) and the American Shellers Association to request assistance from researchers in Raleigh, North Carolina, who designed experiments, analyzed data, and documented results to determine the optimum number of pneumatic probe samples needed to obtain a representative grade sample. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Shellers and FSIS are now considering an increase in the number of probe samples needed from the current 5 to 10 to improve the accuracy of estimating grade factors and determining the loan value of a farmer’s lot.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An ARS engineer at East Lansing, Michigan, in collaboration with engineers and horticulturists from Michigan State University, developed a new near-infrared (NIR) sensing method and technique for predicting the firmness and sugar content of apples and cherries.  The technique allows measurements at multiple locations on fruit at a fast rate, and gives improved predictions of apple quality. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Sorting for quality, especially firmness and sugar content, is considered a top priority by the apple industry.  This accomplishment is an important milestone in research to develop a real time sensing system that will allow commercialization of systems to sort apples for firmness and sugar content and allow marketing of apples based upon these quality attributes.

During FY 2003, ARS will provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve grading systems.

During FY 2004, ARS will provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve grading systems.

During FY 2005, ARS will provide knowledge and technology to expand and improve grading systems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.3.3:  Demonstrate methods to measure the critical processing and end-use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing system and the processing industry.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will demonstrate methods to measure critical processing and end-use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing and processing systems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Research engineers at Manhattan, Kansas, cooperated with scientists at Kansas State University to develop the system.  A commercial prototype of the new system is being built by a CRADA partner. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This system will allow measurement and sorting based on quality factors such as bunted kernels, protein, moisture, scab damage, and color class at grain elevators, thus allowing segregation at the first point of sale.  It will also provide breeders with a means to sort kernels with desirable traits from samples when developing new cultivars.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Raleigh, North Carolina, examined peanuts that had been shipped to Europe from the United States, China, and Argentina.  Data on oil quality and both descriptive sensory and consumer analysis of flavor clearly demonstrated the superior quality of U.S. peanuts.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The data demonstrate superior quality of U.S. peanuts in export markets.  The information has been presented in international forums and used in developing marketing information on U.S. peanuts.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Raleigh, North Carolina, developed methods to design and evaluate the performance of Tilletia controversy Kuhn (TCK) sampling plans to minimize both the exporter’s risk (good lots rejected) and importer’s risk (bad lots accepted) associated with testing export shipments.  Data from the study provided adequate information on which to base USDA sampling plans that would satisfy U.S. exporters and Chinese importers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  China and the United States signed an Agricultural Cooperation Agreement whereby China will import U.S. wheat produced in the Pacific Northwest with 30,000 or less TCK spores per 50 grams of wheat.  Results of the study will result in millions of dollars of export wheat sales to China.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Fargo, North Dakota, determined that the falling number value of the stirring number value is very effective in determining the extent of sprout damage in oats and that increased groat breakage is the most significant quality characteristic affected by sprout damage.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Oats serve as an important food and feed source.  They contain high levels of protein and soluble fiber, the latter of which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol in humans.  Improvement of American oat quality is important in light of eroding U.S. oat production, which is being replaced by imports from Canada during a time when American demand for oats is increasing.  Sprout damage has only recently been recognized as a problem in oats.  As a result of this research, milling companies in the United States, Canada, and Finland are now requiring the oats that they buy pass a sprout damage test before purchase.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Albany, California, identified a method using x-rays to identify afflicted fruits and developed an algorithm for automatic detection.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The pineapple industry needs a method to non-destructively identify pineapples that suffer from “translucency,” a disorder similar to watercore in apples.  The results of the research were submitted to a major pineapple producer for possible cooperation in the development of a real-time sorting device to improve the quality of pineapples going to market and aid in breeding research.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In response to the unilateral and sudden imposition of new quality standards for cotton imported into the People’s Republic of China, the U.S. cotton industry asked ARS for help in determining the difficulty and the value of the required measurements.  ARS responded immediately with an analysis of the required devices and procedures, followed by the formation of task forces to generate data evaluating the efficacy of these new procedures.  The task forces were structured to produce answers within weeks of being organized. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The early analyses by ARS allowed the U.S. industry to protest the new required measurements as inappropriate and uninformative.  At stake is the importation of almost 4 million bales of cotton by China, which is part of the agreement for it to enter the World Trade Organization. 

During FY 2003, ARS will demonstrate methods to measure critical processing and end-use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing and processing system.

During FY 2004, ARS will demonstrate methods to measure critical processing and end use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing and processing system.

During FY 2005, ARS will demonstrate methods to measure critical processing and end use properties of agricultural commodities important to the agricultural marketing and processing system.

STRATEGY 1.1.4:  International technology interchange:  Develop a strategy for selective international research interchange to supplement ARS technology developments and strengthen competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.1.4.1:  Strategic alliances formed with specific foreign institutions, leading to the joint development of germplasm and value-added technologies, mutually protected through intellectual property agreements.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

coordinate research results from scientists at ARS locations and selected international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Initiated a cooperative project with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) pertaining to disease resistance in cacao.  This is a new 3-year effort co-funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute and USAID.

Continued collaborative research with the International Center for Improvement of Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT) in mirroring the Maize DB at CIMMYT and entering its information into the system.

Completed a cooperative study with IITA pertaining to inbred maize lines for higher bioavailable iron content.  Varieties containing significantly higher bioavailable iron were identified.

Completed a 5-year project with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on integrated pest management of whitefly, a major pest of several food crops. 

Facilitated a cooperative project, funded by USAID, between IITA and Purdue University to study the impact of gene flow in cowpea.

Established a project on herbal and medicinal plants in Tunisia, in cooperation with the Institut des Regions Arides in Medenine and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The cacao project with IITA will utilize genetic approaches to identify germplasm that is resistant to phytopthera, a fungal disease that can devastate the crop in both Latin America and West Africa.  This project is significant to both consumers in developed nations and producers in developing nations.

The joint effort CIMMYT has resulted in the new CIMMYT MaizeDB data repository.  This repository is a valuable tool for researchers attempting to enhance both the production and quality of maize.

As malnutrition and under-nutrition continues to plague Africa, crop varieties that are productive in Africa with higher available iron content developed in conjunction with IITA can reduce illnesses associated with micro- and macro-nutrient malnutrition.

Integrated pest management strategies for the suppression of whitefly, developed at CIAT under the auspices of ARS, have received global acclaim.  The documented approaches provide tools to protect a number of crops from damage caused by the insect and associated disease.

Cowpea, a major staple pulse in Africa, is being genetically manipulated at IITA to improve insect resistance, which would greatly improve production in Africa.  As West Africa is a known Center of Origin for cowpea, it is important to understand the impact of introducing a transgenic cowpea prior to its release.

The equivalent of $250,000 has been granted from the USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service (PL480 funds) to fund the herbal and medicinal plant project with ICARDA.  An extensive socio-economic survey was completed.

participate in long-term cooperative research and development projects involving the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and client countries.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS developed three projects that are approved and/or awaiting implementation.  They are the Marsa Matrouh Resource Management Project in Egypt, the Aquaculture Improvement Project in China, and the Gansu-Xinjiang Pastoral Development Project also in China.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS scientists located in Mandan, North Dakota, and Lincoln, Nebraska, participate in the Marsa Matrouh Resource Management Project.  The Egyptian government and the World Bank are expected to further discuss Phase II when non-disbursed funding from Phase I is spent in Fall 2003.

The Aquaculture Improvement Project was slowed due to a restructuring of the effort, making it difficult to predict whether the project will be terminated or continued.

The World Bank approved the Gansu-Xinjiang Pastoral Development Project.  Implementation starts in Spring 2003.  ARS scientists from El Reno, Oklahoma, will participate.

participate in World Bank/GEF identification missions to Kazakhstan and Jordan.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS developed two projects that were approved and/or awaiting implementation.  They are the Kazakhstan Drylands Management Project and the Conservation of Medicinal and Herbal Plants Project in Jordan.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Global Environment Facility approved the Kazakhstan Drylands Management Project.  The Project Appraisal Document is in preparation for the appraisal mission to be conducted in Spring 2003.  Negotiations and implementation are expected to follow shortly thereafter.

The World Bank internal review of the Conservation of Medicinal and Herbal Plants Project Appraisal Document was accepted and negotiations between Jordan’s Ministry of Planning and the World Bank Board of Directors is expected in March 2003.  Implementation is likely shortly thereafter.

develop formal agreements with international research institutions of excellence to address agricultural problems of mutual interest.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Mexican National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research, the Post Graduates College, and the Center for Research in Food and Development.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Memoranda of Understanding with the Mexican National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research, the Post Graduates College, and the Center for Research in Food and Development, are part of an overall effort to strategically refocus research cooperation with Mexico in high priority areas of the U.S.-Mexican Binational Commission, which includes trade and environmental impact.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Broad cooperation was established between the United States and the Peoples’ Republic of China that focuses on natural resource management.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  On May 20, 2002, the Joint Centers for Soil and Water Conservation and Environmental Protection were opened. One is hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute for Soil and Water Conservation, on the campus of the Northwest Sci-tech University for Agriculture and Forestry at Yangling, Shaanxi Province, China.  The other center is located in the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson in cooperation with three ARS laboratories (National Soil Erosion Lab, West Lafayette, Indiana; National Sedimentation Lab, Oxford, Mississippi; and the Southwest Watershed Research Lab in Tucson, Arizona).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) program reviewed approximately 90 proposals for joint research.  The U.S.-BARD addresses many agricultural problems of common interest to Israel and the United States, such as water quotas for agriculture, labor issues, production and environmental issues, etc.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund Board of Directors approved 25 project proposals in 11 disciplines for funding at about $300,000 each.  The U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund remains a cornerstone of mutual U.S.-Israel efforts to overcome agricultural problems through sound science.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Labex Program, in which scientists from Embrapa (Agricultural Research Corporation) of Brazil are housed in ARS laboratories, was enhanced by two formal agreements.  Mutually beneficial research was conducted in the areas of integrated pest management, animal health, precision farming, global change and industrial utilization of commodities.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Labex fostered considerable high-impact, large-scale U.S.-Brazil cooperative projects, including those concerned with the complete genome sequence of X. fastiosa (causative agent of Pierce’s Disease), genomic identification of disease resistance in bovines, porcine, and avian manure management, and sensory tools for the economic and efficient use of agricultural inputs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS utilizes three specific cooperative agreements with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica, facilitating research and capacity building activities in that country in agriculture, and the management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS collaborates with the CATIE on research that is vital to the Central American region, in particular the maintenance of a sustainable tropical tree crop program.  The program includes field trials of biological control agents for cocoa and sustainable production of coffee and banana, emphasizing adequate soil and water conservation.  Capacity building activities at CATIE offer direct benefits to the region, develop greater scientific linkages, and strengthen the ability to transfer technology to the people of the region. This ultimately builds relationships and capacity to foster long-term partnerships in other countries in areas of strategic importance to the agency’s mission.

with funding from the Department of State Freedom Support Act, engage former Soviet biological weapons (BW) scientists to redirect their efforts to peaceful, agricultural research and help reduce the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS teams traveled to Russia and Kazakhstan to assess research institutes and identify collaborations of mutual benefit.  The teams focused on research institutes that are primarily dedicated to agriculturally important animal and plant diseases.

Since inception (1998), 46 projects have been approved under the ARS-Former Soviet Union (FSU) scientific cooperation program.  The projects focus on plant research, animal health, and natural resources, which involve over 900 FSU scientists, half of whom are former bio-weapons scientists.  Twenty new projects were approved, and 11 funded for a total of approximately 3.6 million dollars.

Fifty-five Russian, Kazakhstani, and Uzbek scientists traveled to the United States to meet with ARS counterparts to develop project proposals or work on existing projects.  In addition, 22 ARS scientists and representatives traveled to Russia and Kazakhstan under on-going projects or as part of ARS team visits. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  All funded projects are enhancements to the ARS National Research Programs.

The program advances basic and applied research in agriculture and supports the transition of the Newly Independent States (NIS) to a market economy by strengthening scientific communities and integrating NIS scientists into the international community.

The program also supports U.S. foreign policy:  The proliferation risk for weapons of mass destruction is reduced; transparency at former Soviet bio-weapons research sites is increased; and activities of former Soviet weapons scientists in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are redirected to peaceful, agriculturally beneficial research.

During FY 2003, ARS will

provide mutual exchange and cooperative development of Lotus spp. germplasms by INIA (Uruguay) and ARS for the co-development of rhizomatous lines with suitable winter-hardiness for adaptation in both countries.

engage former Soviet biological weapons scientists to redirect their efforts to peaceful, agricultural research and help reduce the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with funding from the Department of State Freedom Support Act.

coordinate research results from scientists at ARS locations and selected international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR.

participate in long-term cooperative research and development projects involving the World Bank or USAID.

develop formal agreements with international research institutions of excellence to address agricultural problems of mutual interest.

During FY 2004, ARS will

engage former Soviet biological weapons scientists to redirect their efforts to peaceful, agricultural research and help reduce the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with funding from the Department of State Freedom Support Act.

coordinate research results from scientists at ARS locations and selected international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR.

participate in long-term cooperative research and development projects involving the World Bank or USAID.

develop formal agreements with international research institutions of excellence to address agricultural problems of mutual interest.

During FY 2005, ARS will

engage former Soviet biological weapons scientists to redirect their efforts to peaceful, agricultural research and help reduce the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with funding from the Department of State Freedom Support Act.

coordinate research results from scientists at ARS locations and selected international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR.

participate in long-term cooperative research and development projects involving the World Bank or USAID.

develop formal agreements with international research institutions of excellence to address agricultural problems of mutual interest.

OBJECTIVE 1.2:  Develop new uses and products:  “Develop new uses and new products for agricultural commodities, such as alternative fuels, and develop new crops.”

STRATEGY 1.2.1:  New and alternative crops:  Develop new and alternative crops with economic and social value.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.2.1.1:  Experimentally develop and demonstrate production of new, improved, and alternative farm animals, crops, and horticultural products.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will develop new fruit, vegetable, nut, and ornamental germplasm with competitive enhancements (yield, pest resistance, quality) for producers, while providing exciting new market choices for consumers.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop new and improved horticultural crops targeted at specific production-limiting challenges.

develop new and improved horticultural crops targeted specifically at enhancing consumption patterns and marketability.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop new and improved horticultural crops targeted at specific production-limiting challenges.

develop new and improved horticultural crops targeted specifically at enhancing consumption patterns and marketability.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.2.1.2:  Experimentally demonstrate new and improved management practices for production, harvesting, and postharvest handling procedures of these commodities.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

continue to develop strategies for protecting and using insect pollinators to increase crop production.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Honey Bee Research Unit in Tucson, Arizona, have developed an artificial diet for honey bees that can be used as the bee’s sole food source. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This provides beekeepers with an inexpensive and easy to use artificial diet that can help insure strong, populous colonies for pollination, particularly for use in spring build-up, e.g., for almond pollination in California.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah, conducted research on a nesting block design for the blue orchard bee that was inexpensive, durable and easily sanitized. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research, done in collaboration with a cherry producer in Utah, has resulted in a patent (U.S. Patent 6,364.738 Solitary Bee Nesting Block) for a nesting block that will make it easier for growers to manage non-honey bee pollinators for apples, pears, cherries, and other orchard crops.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research Unit in Logan, have completed the second year of a research and demonstration project that uses meadowfoam, an oil-seed crop, to increase populations of the blue orchard bee. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This discovery could ultimately lead to zero pollination costs per acre as well as increased profitability from the sale of surplus bees.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Beneficial Insects Research Unit at Weslaco, Texas, completed research that compared methods for applying the antibiotic tylosin -- in a dust with powdered sugar or in a grease patty -- to bee hives for control of American foulbrood disease.  The grease patty method was as effective as the dust method, but hives treated with the grease patty experienced significant increases of the damaging small hive beetle.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information provides a warning to beekeepers that use of grease patties in areas with the small hive beetle may result in increased damage due to this invasive pest.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Beneficial Insects Research Unit at Weslaco, Texas, determined that use of the pesticide coumaphos did not significantly affect bee mortality or adversely affect reproducing queens.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: This provides additional evidence that coumaphos can be used safely for control of the varroa mite.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have shown that honey bees imported from far eastern Russia have strong genetically-based resistance to the varroa mite.  Russian bees also exhibited strong resistance to the tracheal mite.  In addition, Russian bee honey production was as good or better than that of commercial U.S. stocks of honey bees and the Russian bees exhibited excellent winter hardiness.  Also, a different strategy, one that employs domesticated bee stocks, is showing promise for increasing the frequency of mite-resistant genes.  Honey bees were found to express a high level of resistance to varroa mites when bees were selected for only one resistant trait [suppression of mite reproduction (SMR)].  A significant level of mite resistance was retained when commercially reared queens with the SMR trait were allowed to mate freely with unselected drones. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research suggests that commercial queen producers can produce mite resistant queens by using their traditional methods of queen production using new bee stock from Russia. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Beneficial Insects Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, have found a fungal pathogen of varroa mites to be as effective as pesticides currently in use, and with no adverse effects on honey bees.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The commercialization and widespread use of this pathogen could lead to the elimination of pesticides in beehives.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to develop strategies for protecting and using insect pollinators to increase crop production.

improve technology to reduce spray drift, while providing effective spray distribution in tree canopies.

develop integrated cropping, harvesting, and postharvest handling systems.

During FY 2004, ARS will

continue to develop strategies for protecting and using insect pollinators to increase crop production.

improve technology to reduce spray drift, while providing effective spray distribution in tree canopies.

develop integrated cropping, harvesting, and post-harvest handling systems.

During FY 2005, ARS will

continue to develop strategies for protecting and using insect pollinators to increase crop production.

improve technology to reduce spray drift, while providing effective spray distribution in tree canopies.

develop integrated cropping, harvesting, and post-harvest handling systems.

STRATEGY 1.2.2:  New uses and products:  Develop new food and non-food uses and products from plants and animals, and new processes and other technologies that add value.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 1.2.2.1:  Experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, developed a method for the rapid extraction of pectin from orange peels that is less expensive than microwave heating and which produced pectin with properties superior to commercial pectin extracted from lime/lemon peel.  Other scientists within the unit, in collaboration with researchers in the United Kingdom, demonstrated that Florida orange peels could enhance the growth of health-promoting gut bacteria at the expense of disease-causing gut bacteria. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  U.S. citrus processing generates 106 tons of orange peel/pulp per year, most of which is used in low-value animal feed.  These results offer potential for new value-added uses for Florida orange peels.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, demonstrated that leather treated with low molecular weight polyethylene glycol solutions significantly reduces the stiffness of leather.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Hides are the most important byproduct of the meat packing industry, providing the raw material for the domestic leather industry and generating over a billion dollars in foreign trade.  Fatliquors are routinely applied to leather to lubricate the fibrous structure and to increase the compliance of leather, but they do not promote the retention of essential moisture and therefore, over drying can be a consequence.  This research may provide a possible alternative or supplement to traditional fatliquors and thereby, help prevent aged leather products from becoming brittle and fragile. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the American Sheep Industry Association and an enzyme company, demonstrated that the structure of the wool scales that surround the fiber and contribute to prickle could be altered by an enzyme treatment.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Consumer acceptance of domestic wool in garments and upholstery is limited, in part, because of skin irritation and prickle.  The enzymatic treatment is an alternative to conventional scale alteration by chlorination and may facilitate the establishment of wool’s competitive market share and increase the demand for natural fiber blends of wool.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in New Orleans, Louisiana, invented a dry instantization process for reducing the cooking time of brown and dry rice from 45-50 minutes to that of white rice (20 minutes).  A patent application has been filed, five companies are pursuing licensing of the technology, and a prototype continuous system for production of the products has been built.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Existing methods of instantizing rice require significant input of water and energy that, in turn, creates considerable expense.  The new process reduces the cost of processing to make instant rice, reduces environmental pollution, and will make nutritious brown rice more appealing to the consumer.   

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at New Orleans, Louisiana, cooperated with engineers at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, to chemically modify soybean hulls to develop an efficient, cost-effective cation exchange resin that could compete with commercial resins in the marketplace. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Hulls from soybeans are low value, high volume processing by-products that amount to about 13 billion pounds annually.  ARS transferred the technology to a private sector partner and is cooperating in product scale-up.  The private sector partner has had numerous requests from companies to use the modified hulls as a replacement cation exchange resin in place of more expensive synthetic commercial resins.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Raleigh, North Carolina, in collaboration with scientists at North Carolina State University, designed, constructed, and tested pilot plant equipment for evaluating bag-in-box technology for producing “process ready” brined/fermented vegetables.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Brining is an inexpensive means for temporary preservation of cucumbers and certain other produce, but current technology creates a negative environmental impact due to waste generation (salt and organics) and variable product quality and uniformity.  The new technology can benefit farmers by providing value enhancement and a market hedge.  Processors will reduce waste and produce more uniform and higher quality products.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Albany, California, developed a novel ethanol-based method to displace starch from well-developed dough, thus improving the vitality of gluten significantly relative to that from the conventional water displacement method.  The gluten derived from ethanol cold-processing exhibited mixing properties and comparable or improved baking properties.  Most importantly, the ethanol-separated gluten was much more resistant to high temperature extremes of drying.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In the traditional water-based separation of gluten from wheat, the gluten loses much of its vitality.  Improved gluten quality via the ethanol process will reduce energy costs and improve the competitiveness of U.S.-produced gluten.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS agricultural engineers at Dawson, Georgia, in collaboration with dryer manufacturers, determined that a continuous flow dryer with alternating heating and tempering sections increased drying capacity to approximately twice that of conventional wagon drying systems, while having minimal detrimental effects on quality.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Increased peanut harvest capacity has caused a severe shortage of capacity at commercial curing facilities.  If the peanut marketing system is modified to allow the use of continuous flow dryers, these findings can eliminate the shortage of curing capacity faced by the peanut industry.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Albany, California, developed casting technologies to create 100 percent fruit and vegetable wraps and entered into a CRADA with an industrial partner to scale up the production process for these films.  The research generated an extraordinary amount of national and international press interest and won a Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science magazine.  In related research, the researchers also developed and licensed a technology for forming 100 percent fruit health bars from pears to add value and create new markets for pears. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The wraps should be commercially available in the near future and will increase utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables, improving not only the American diet, but also the environment by reducing large amounts of disposable packaging materials.  The industrial partner who licensed the fruit health bars technology is scaling up the process at a plant in a rural area of Oregon, which presently has high unemployment, to begin to manufacture the fruit bars.  This grass-root effort on behalf of pear growers has recently expanded beyond pears into other fruits and vegetables from the Western States and is expected to increase growers’ profits, while assisting Americans in meeting their daily dietary requirements for fruits and vegetables. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Peoria, Illinois, prepared soybean oil-based composites by cross-linking epoxidized soybean oil with a resin and five different gelling agents and using a solid free-forming fabrication method (SFF), which doesn’t require the use of molds. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The preparation of structurally strong composites from renewable resources is attractive due to the environmental sustainability of the raw materials used and the new markets created for farm products.  The combination of natural fibers with soybean oil will also produce composites that will be cheaper than the available alternatives.  Using SFF will also open the door to a broad range of new applications such as in the automotive, construction, aircraft, and military industries.  The U.S. patent on the process is pending and a CRADA with an industry partner is in progress.      

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cooperative work with the University of Illinois and a private company has established that gin trash – the material left behind after the cotton fiber and the seeds have been separated and cleaned – makes an effective mulch that suppresses weeds and promotes grass establishment more effectively than some commercial mulches.  Other work with Texas Tech University, Cotton Incorporated, and private companies showed that this material provides excellent roughage in a typical feedlot diet that promotes weight gain and efficiency of cattle. Extruded gin trash also can be pelletized for use as a high-quality fuel in pellet stoves. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Disposal of gin trash is an economic burden.  All of these uses could turn the economic losses from handling gin trash into profits for the ginner.

increase ethanol yield by partial saccharification of corn fiber by use of new organisms which ferment pentoses, or do not produce succinate, or ferment xylose without glucose repression.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Metabolic engineering was used to manipulate the biosynthetic pathways of microorganisms to develop a series of biocatalysts that improve conversion of biomass sugars to fuel ethanol.  Strains of bacteria were developed that increase ethanol production by co-utilization during fermentation of the multiple sugars present in agricultural biomass.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The microorganisms developed bring the commercial production of fuel ethanol from agricultural biomass closer to reality.

During FY 2003, ARS will

experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies, and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

develop new enzymes, by use of molecular evolution, to reduce the costs and energy use for producing bioethanol.

scale up enzymatic production of sugars from corn fiber for fermentation to ethanol and higher-value co-products by recombinant organisms.

identify specific enzymes that can best serve to replace sulfites for steeping corn.

complete a comparative cost analysis of a plant producing ethanol from both corn starch and corn stover.

During FY 2004, ARS will

experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

develop processes to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of ethanol production and increase the value of ethanol coproducts.

develop enzymes, organisms, and processes for lower cost and more efficient conversion of cellulosic biomass into ethanol, and technology to integrate stover-to-ethanol with grain-to-ethanol production.

improve understanding of relationships among biodiesel feedstocks, conversion processes, chemical structure, physical properties, fuel quality, storage stability, emissions, and economics that will remove technological barriers to biodiesel use.

During FY 2005, ARS will

experimentally demonstrate improvements in processing technologies and develop new bioproducts and uses that have potential to increase demand for agricultural commodities.

develop processes to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of ethanol production and to increase the value of ethanol coproducts.

develop enzymes, organisms, and processes for lower cost and more efficient conversion of cellulosic biomass into ethanol, and technology to integrate stover-to-ethanol with grain-to-ethanol production.

improve understanding of relationships among biodiesel feedstocks, conversion processes, chemical structure, physical properties, fuel quality, storage stability, emissions, and economics that will remove technological barriers to biodiesel use.


Goal II

Goal II:  To Promote a Safe and Secure Food and Fiber System.

 Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

      FY 2002

      FY 2003

      FY 2004

     Soil, Water & Air Sciences

            7,232

7,084

          7,153

     Plant Sciences

        202,560

       218,928 

      229,221

     Animal Sciences

        129,629

       125,702   

      117,869

     Commodity Conversion & Delivery

          60,190

         64,296   

        64,313

    Human Nutrition

                  0

                 0

                0

     Integration of Agricultural Systems

            6,051

           6,217

          6,232

                Total

      $405,662

      $422,227

     $424,788

     FTEs

            3,481

           3,624 

          3,698  

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results for FY 2002:  This is the focus of much of ARS’ research related to food safety and the security of the U.S. agricultural production system.  Under Goal II, 88 Indicators are aligned under 10 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in 87 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  One indicator was not accomplished because the Office of Scientific Quality Review gave it a relatively low priority, thus the work has not yet been addressed.  One hundred and thirty-seven significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources described in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 2.1:  Secure food and fiber system:  “Maintain a safe and secure food and fiber system that meets the Nation’s needs now and in the future.”

STRATEGY 2.1.1:  Plant and animal production systems:  Improve efficiency of agricultural production systems to ensure the security of the Nation's food, fiber, and energy supply.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.1.1:  Demonstrate increases in productivity above current levels, using sustainable technologies.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will evaluate new vaccine technologies for protection from disease and continue to develop complimentary strategies for disease protection.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Vaccines or immunomodulators have been developed by scientists at various laboratories against Foot and Mouth Disease in swine, Brucellosis in bison, Newcastle disease and coccidiosis in chickens, and mastitis in dairy cows.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These new vaccines or immunomodulators will help producers combat losses from diseases where it exists and increase preparedness for controlling foreign diseases should incursion occur (e.g. Foot and Mouth Disease, Newcastle disease).

During FY 2003, ARS will

provide recommendations for alternative crops in traditional wheat fallow areas to increase overall productivity.

conduct large vaccination studies to determine the efficacy of new vaccines and determine the strengths and weaknesses of new products.

During FY 2004, ARS will further refine the vaccine technique by modifying delivery, dosage, adjuvant, etc., to address any deficiencies noted from previous trials.  Engage industry partners in the further development and potential licensing of the products.

During FY 2005, ARS will utilize microbial genetic information in the creation of genetically engineered vaccines which utilize specific microbial sequences that specifically confer protective immunity.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.1.2:  Demonstrate a more efficient and cost-effective use of resource inputs, while increasing productivity above current levels.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop biological and engineering strategies to manage animals during extreme weather events to improve survival, health, and well being, and transfer the information to producers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Temperature thresholds were demonstrated based upon animal response and incorporated into decision support tools for livestock producers to manage thermal changes.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The research was published in a number of scientific journals.  An electron devise was developed to give a warning based on weather data automatically picked up by local broadcasts.  This device provides advanced warnings to producers to take steps to protect animals in severe weather events.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop practical information for ventilating broiler houses at high air velocity without additional fans or electrical energy.

identify optimum temperatures for minimizing the detrimental effects of disease exposure for use by producers to better manage and house piglets.

provide recommendations on the substitution of renewable resources such as green and animal manures for nonrenewable resources that increase productivity above current levels.

During FY 2004, ARS will

identify the quantitative trait loci (QTL) for 3 generational families of the seven most prominent beef breeds in the United States to allow the effective use of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) to characterize genetic variation.

expand the number of reproductive traits analyzed from complex pedigrees using the single-nucleotide-polymorphisms (SNP) to characterize genetic variation.

verify growth models for medium and very lean growth swine.

During FY 2005, ARS will

determine the optimal level of sugars, grain and protein to feed with alfalfa-corn silage diets to lactating dairy cows.

identify genetic markers to improve swine litter size.

evaluate the effects of various forage types on chemical composition and consumer acceptance of pasture-finished beef.

evaluate impact of tropically adapted breeds of beef cattle on stocker productivity, feedlot gains and feed efficiency, and carcass quality.

validate a livestock safety monitor (LSM) and update empirical relationships.

STRATEGY 2.1.2:  Plant, animal, and ecosystems protection:  Improve integrated management systems that contribute to the protection of plants, animals, and ecosystems against pests (insects, weeds, pathogens, etc.). 
 

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.2.1:  Demonstrate new integrated technologies to protect plants, animals, and ecosystems.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

complete the demonstration of biologically based integrated pest management (IPM)strategies to control fire ants in South Carolina.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A cooperative agreement was reached with Clemson University to oversee the expansion of the area-wide, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) fire ant control program in South Carolina.  Among other responsibilities, Clemson has taken on the production of extension materials to be used throughout the seven States participating in the areawide program.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  South Carolina is on the northern border of the red fire ant territory so that successful establishment of self-sustaining biological control by microsporidian pathogens and parasitic phorid flies will provide a buffer against any further expansion of the affected area.

demonstrate the application of its ELISA test to distinguish screwworms from other blood-sucking flies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A method to rapidly differentiate the screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax, not only from similar fly species but among strains within the species, was developed using restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) on the DNA.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  An outbreak of screwworm in livestock occurred in the eradication zone at Chiapas State, Mexico.  Because the outbreak was about 20 miles from the APHIS sterile fly production facility at Tuxtla, Mexico, initial suspicion was that the epidemic started from an undetected escape of fertile flies.  But DNA from specimens confirmed that the wild flies were a strain from Costa Rica and different than those used in the sterile fly release program.  This information not only aided in suppression of the outbreak but averted a possible diplomatic setback to the program.

develop and test improved traps and methods for the accurate and rapid survey of mosquitoes and other flies that transmit animal and human diseases.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, Gainesville, Florida, in collaboration with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, developed and began testing several new mosquito traps to be used in the surveillance of epidemic diseases, such as West Nile virus.  This work was funded in part by a special Congressional appropriation and by commercial partnerships.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The rapid spread of West Nile virus across the United States highlights the need for better tools to detect and combat vector-borne diseases.  ARS prototype traps being tested in Connecticut and elsewhere make use of specific attractants that eliminate much of the background data that slow the analysis of catches.  Innovations, such as solar panels and slow release CO2, increase the trap’s efficiency.

develop improved understanding of pathogenesis and control of diseases caused by species of the fungus Sclerotinia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Sclerotinia blight and head rot causes serious losses of peanuts, sunflower, canola, soybean, dry beans, and other crops each year.  ARS scientists at Fargo, North Dakota, evaluated sunflower breeding lines for Sclerotinia resistance using artificial inoculation.  Sources of resistance were derived from the study.  ARS scientists at Stillwater, Oklahoma, screened different lines of peanuts for resistance to Sclerotinia blight and found that one line with desirable oil and agronomic qualities had acceptable resistance.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies improve the understanding of pathogenesis and control of this serious fungal disease.

describe the genetic variability, epidemiology, and ecology of diseases caused by Xylella species, including Pierce’s disease of grapes and citrus, variegated chlorosis, almond leaf scorch, and others.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS’ multi-disciplinary research program determined the basis for host specificity of Xylella strains, the nature and scope of Xylella diversity, and the epidemiology of Xylella-induced diseases.  ARS scientists at Beltsville and Frederick, Maryland, developed a same-day, onsite portable molecular assay for the Pierce’s disease strain that allows grape stock to be diagnosed within 1-2 hours.  ARS researchers at Parlier, California, have determined the epidemiology and are developing control measures for the disease and its sharpshooter vector.  Researchers at Davis, California, tested substances that boost the grapevine’s defenses against the bacterium.  The largest collection of citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) isolates is maintained at the ARS Fruit Laboratory in Beltsville, where diagnostic assays are being developed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) species, including those causing Pierce’s disease of grapes and CVC, are responsible for millions of dollars in management costs and crop losses each year.  Other Xf diseases in the United States include alfalfa dwarf and leaf scorch in almond, pecan, elm, maple, and plum leaf scald.  ARS research on the genetic variability of Xf strains and development of rapid diagnostics will protect California’s grape and citrus industries.       

improve genetic resistance in soybean to the soybean cyst nematode.  Transfer improved germplasm to seed producers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Urbana, Illinois, are identifying lines in USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection to improve yield, modify seed composition, and enhance resistance to the soybean cyst nematode.  Studies of population dynamics and improvement of management schemes for soybean cyst nematode are also being conducted at Urbana.  ARS scientists at Beltsville, Maryland, have discovered two cell-wall hydrolase genes that are expressed during infection.  The promoter for these genes may be used to express genes that produce proteins that are toxic to the nematode. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Expression of these genes in the host plant during the early infection process may stop nematode damage before it occurs.  Improved germplasm will be transferred to seed producers.

develop improved detection and identification methods for viruses, bacteria, and fungi causing plant diseases. Emphasis will be on citrus canker, plum pox, bronze wilt of cotton, and soybean rust.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Improved detection and identification methods for viruses, bacteria, and fungi causing plant diseases have been developed at several ARS laboratories.  ARS scientists have identified “signature” DNA sequences in viral, bacterial, and fungal genomes of crop pathogens and developed oligonucleotide primers and fluorescent probes for real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) diagnostic assays to distinguish strains and isolates of the organism(s). 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  PCR assays have been developed for emerging diseases, such as plum pox virus, citrus canker, soybean rust, bronze wilt of cotton, citrus tristeza virus, and other critical pathogens.  These techniques allow for rapid and accurate detection of these emerging diseases.   

develop improved methods for control and management of disease losses in plants using improved cultural, chemical, and biological control systems and increased host plant resistance.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS strategies for the control of plant diseases include planting resistant crop varieties, changing crop cultural practices or storage conditions to those less favorable for disease development, employing biological controls, and using integrated management.  The ARS program is conducted in cooperation with related research in other public and private institutions. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Effective management strategies have been developed for several emerging viral, bacterial, fungal, and nematode-caused diseases utilizing one or a combination of techniques listed above preserving millions of dollars of losses due to disease. 

develop basic knowledge about the ecology, epidemiology, and genetic variability of plant pathogens to identify potential points of control.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS research on the processes that take place during disease development has uncovered vulnerable steps in the life cycles of pathogens where control measures can be used successfully.  ARS research has shown how pathogens move from plant to plant in the field or within harvested commodities in storage. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Possible control strategies are being developed based on how pathogens survive in the absence of host materials and how they are affected by their environment.       

continue to develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) components and systems as alternatives to pesticides that endanger human health and the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Eliminating pink bollworm – a pest that eats cotton bolls and has caused billions of dollars of damage to the cotton industry – has been the focus of ARS scientists in Phoenix, Arizona, for a number of years.  Many of the research findings have now become management strategies used by the National Cotton Council Pink Bollworm Action Committee in its pink bollworm eradication program.  A combination of four of the most successful technologies is being used in the program.  First is a “host-free” period making it harder for the pest to survive from one year to the next, and second is to plant transgenic pest-resistant cotton.  A third strategy involves methods for using the female’s pheromone that, when released in cotton fields, makes it difficult for males to find the females.  The final part of the program involves the release of sterile pink bollworm male moths in cotton fields to interfere with normal matings.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The pink bollworm eradication program has already started and is proposed for three phases in different locations in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.  The strategies for the program were adopted from effective control technologies developed and demonstrated by ARS.  The last phase of the eradication program will start in 2004 or 2005, and is estimated to prevent millions of dollars in losses to the cotton industry. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Sidney, Montana, in a collaborative effort with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the University of Wyoming, developed a CD-ROM and a Web site to provide land managers with the best pest management resources to help them deal with grasshopper pests.  The Web site and CD-ROM are comprehensive sources for the most recent research in grasshopper management, identification, biology, ecology, and control tactics for Federal, State and local land managers, weed and pest districts, extension agents, and ranchers.  Decision-making software, which is part of the package, will help land managers decide if and when pesticide spraying will make economic and environmental sense.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The grasshopper management CD-ROM has been widely distributed for use by grasshopper managers, growers, and researchers in all affected parts of the United States.  About 2,000 CD-ROMs also have been requested by individuals from more than 70 countries – from Peru to Tunisia, and from Thailand to Ethiopia.  While the information and software are specific to U.S. conditions, many countries are interested in it as a model for developing their own program to facilitate management of grasshopper populations.

continue development and expansion of areawide pest management programs demonstrating alternatives to at-risk and other environmentally hazardous pesticides.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS initiated three new areawide pest management projects.  These projects target the: (1) Russian wheat aphid and greenbug on wheat in the U.S. Great Plains, using customized cultural practices, pest-resistant cultivars, biological control agents, and other biologically based pest control technologies.  This project is managed out of Stillwater, Oklahoma;  (2) Melaleuca (from Australia), which is the first project that targets an invasive tree.  This project is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and uses natural enemies (insects and microbial organisms), judicious use of herbicides, mechanical control (mowing), physical control (fire), and combinations of these tactics; and (3) Tarnished plant bug on cotton in the Delta area of Mississippi and Louisiana using host destruction, host-plant resistance, new insecticidal chemicals, and remote-sensing technology.  This is an extension of an ongoing, in-house program at Stoneville, Mississippi.

Two other projects, initiated in 2000 and 2001, respectively, have been expanded.  These include research of: (1) Fruit flies in the Hawaiian Islands using sanitation, male annihilation, baits, biological control, and sterile male fruit flies.  The target species include Mediterranean, melon, oriental, and Malaysian fruit flies.  The overall goal is to suppress these pests below economic thresholds; and (2) fire ants, which is managed out of Gainesville, Florida, and is operational in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and South Carolina on pastures, using natural enemies, microbial pesticides, attracticides, and Geographic Information System/Global Positioning System (GIS/GPS).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  All of the areawide pest management (AWPM) projects – Russian wheat aphid/greenbug, melaleuca, tarnished plant bug, fruit flies, and fire ants – have been demonstrating the positive impacts and advantages to farmers and ranchers of integrated pest management (IPM), resulting in increased grower profits, reduced worker risks from chemical pesticides, an enhanced environment, and a proven strategy that incorporates biologically based pest control technologies.  These projects are resulting in adoption of environmentally sound IPM technologies by farmers and ranchers.  The ARS AWPM Program is focused on management of pests where existing technologies (including pheromones, biological control agents, and alternatives to chemical pesticides) are most effective when used over a multi-State or multi-regional area.  The success of the program thus far has resulted from full partnering and participation among Federal and State agencies, farmers and ranchers, and other private sector (the environmental community, consultants, industry, etc.) entities.  These projects have already resulted in a 75 to 100 percent reduction in chemical insecticide and herbicide applications at the project demonstration sites using the environmentally benign technologies provided by the projects.

continue to provide critical identifications of newly found pest species, provide needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally important insect groups.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Systematics directly impacts food security, animal and plant health, the recognition and management of invasive pest species, and global trade.  Last year, ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, provided over 12,000 identifications of port specimens, including 5,134 of urgent priority, and discovered 14 species to be new immigrants into the continental United States, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.  Major systematics works include: 1) a large study of the parasitic wasps of caterpillars in Costa Rica; 2) a review of ornamental pestiferous woodwasps and seed-feeding wasps, such as those attacking pistachio; 3) demonstration that leaf-mining flies often are a complex of pest and non-pest species, information that was used by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in modifying its quarantine programs to prevent entry of the pest species; 4) a comprehensive revision of the armyworms (including production of an expert identification system), the Anastrepha serpentina species group of fruit flies, and description of a new fruit fly closely related to the pepper maggot; 5) fieldwork in Nepal and China leading to the systematics of flea beetles; and 6) clarification of relationships among the aphid-feeding (Cycloneda) lady beetles.  Data entry for the diaspidine armored scale insects has been completed and placed in ScaleNet at:  www.sel.barc.usda.gov/scalenet/scalenet.htm.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These varied systematics accomplishments, together with a Systematics Summit, held at Beltsville, Maryland, on November 1, 2002, facilitate the strategic tailoring of programs to address newly introduced pests.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Genomics tools were developed for identification of organisms and cells.  DNA probes provide a new tool for studies of insect parasitism in the field, particularly for detecting and identifying minute insects such as whitefly parasitoids.  ARS scientists in Fargo, North Dakota, have developed DNA probes specific for the insect parasitoids Encarsis and Eretmocerus.  Similarly, ARS scientists in Columbia, Missouri, can now identify insect cells, clones, and cell lines derived from specific tissues and species needed for cultivation of insect pathogenic viruses by using DNA markers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These new methods will make possible the identification of parasitoids without having to hold the parasitized whitefly nymphs in the laboratory until the adult parasitoids emerge.  They will facilitate the identification of cell lines for virus production.

use classical and augmentative biological control approaches, along with the conservation of natural enemies, to suppress invasive insect pests and weeds with parasites, predators, and pathogens.  This includes using ARS overseas laboratories to collect, evaluate, and ship new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories and to develop methods to conserve, mass produce, and deliver those control agents that are beneficial.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In the Mid-South Area, researchers demonstrated that the soy isoflavones and optimized quantities of antioxidants such as the preservatives BHT and BHA reduced dietary quality for reared insects.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information will be used to improve diets for the mass rearing of insects. Identification of gut enzymes will allow a better match with diet components. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Crop Protection and Management Research Unit in Tifton, Georgia, initiated on-farm studies to assess the benefits of various winter cover crop schemes.  The results demonstrate that winter covers, including legume blends, crimson clover, and legume/rye mixes, fostered increased beneficial numbers and reduced the need for pesticide interventions with reduction in yield.  Also, these studies show that significant natural enemy species are coming from edge vegetation, that the type of edge vegetation is important for particular species, and that natural enemies are not reaching the center of large fields during the growing season. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Knowledge that winter cover crops foster increased numbers of beneficial insects and reduce the need for pesticides will enable scientists to design cropping systems to increase the densities and dispersion of natural enemies throughout crops.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Beneficial Insects Research Unit at Weslaco, Texas, working with the ARS South American Biological Control Laboratory in Argentina, searched for parasites of relatives of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a newly invasive vector of the Pierce’s disease microbe, in areas of South America pre-adapted to California’s climate. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Three parasite species were found whose establishment could significantly reduce sharpshooter populations in California, thus reducing the impact of Pierce’s disease.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Gypchek, the gypsy moth virus product currently being used by Federal and State action agencies, is not cost-effective and the dosage is too high to be economically practical.  Scientists at the Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, evaluated a cell culture produced virus that was comparable, and in some respects superior, to Gypchek in the field.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The cell-cultured virus could lead to a cost-effective, biologically based strategy for managing gypsy moths in areas where classical biological control efforts are not effective.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Insect Biological Control Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, have discovered a strain of purple bacterium, Chromobacterium violaceum, which is toxic to major insect pests including the Southern corn rootworm, the diamondback moth, and the Colorado potato beetle.  Cell-free preparations were found to be lethal to these insects and to cause a weight reduction in gypsy moth larvae.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This discovery potentially adds another bacterium, and exploitable toxins, to the pest management tool kit.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Plant Protection Research Unit in Ithaca, New York, tested an insect microbial insecticide, the fungus Beauveria bassiana, against Colorado potato beetle (CPB) larvae.  They found that oil formulations might be more efficacious against CPB larvae under wet conditions, but that emulsifiable oil formulations do not substantially increase the virulence of the fungus against CPB under normal field conditions.  Three applications of B. bassiana made at 3-4 day intervals significantly reduced CPB larval populations, but applications at weekly intervals were ineffective.  Levels of control achieved in the tests were moderate at best, and the results do not justify the additional expense of such an approach.  Also, the standard label rate is nearly optimal, yet costly, which underscores the fundamental economic competitiveness problem associated with this microbial control agent.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research suggests that use of the fungus against CPB under some field conditions may not be cost-effective.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at the Crop Bioprotection Laboratory in Peoria, Illinois, showed that dried preparations of the insecticidal fungus Paecilomyces fumosoroseus infected and killed the Formosan termite and was transmitted among exposed nestmates without repellent effect.  Key formulation ingredients and physical conditions for spray drying encapsulated formulations of fungi such as these may yield preparations with improved characteristics, including enhanced solar stability for application to insects found in areas of high insulation.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Fungi shows promise in a comprehensive pest management program for control of the Formosan termite, a pest that causes $1 billion a year in damages to residential and commercial buildings, trees, docks, and railway ties in the southeastern United States and Hawaii.

determine pest and natural enemy (parasite, predator, and microbial) biologies (behavior, host range, interactions with plant signaling), persistence, and impact to improve use and establishment of natural enemies for biological control.  This includes methods that employ remote sensing or modeling.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Whitefly nymph feeding was found to be undeterred by leaf shape.  In collaboration with North Dakota State University, ARS scientists in Fargo, North Dakota, demonstrated that the feeding styles of the smallest immature whiteflies could penetrate to the phloem bundle from any position on the leaf.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings reverse a long-held belief that the smallest nymphs were limited in their ability to reach the phloem food source and must use leaf morphology to locate a suitable site on which to probe.  This is information that will be useful to plant breeders.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The pink hibiscus mealybug, which attacks hundreds of species of ornamental and agricultural crops, has recently invaded California and Florida.  A parasitoid (Allotropa mecrida) of the mealybug was shown to be specific to this pest.  An Egyptian biotype of A. mecrida was tested by ARS scientists in Newark, Delaware, against six species of U.S. mealybugs, and found to be specific to the target mealybug.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information will be submitted to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), enabling the completion of an environmental assessment required for the release of the parasitoid for biological control.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  At the Beneficial Insects Introduction Laboratory at Newark, Delaware, insect attractants (pheromones) were isolated and used successfully in a trap lure for detecting potentially invasive species closely related to the gypsy moth.  Also, a sex pheromone from a parasitoid wasp (Glyptapanteles flavicoxis) of the gypsy moth was isolated.  Similarly, this laboratory discovered trees that are highly attractive to adult Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) – potentially a $670 billion pest of maples and other shade and forest trees.  Other chemicals associated with ALB egg masses were found to repel ALB egg laying.  The beetle can now be detected (through cooperation with Pryor Knowledge Systems and the State University of New York at Syracuse) using an acoustic device with modified neural network software.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The gypsy moth pheromone can be used by APHIS for detection of potentially invasive species at ports.  Scientists also will be able to use the parasitoid wasp pheromone to determine establishment and effectiveness of the biocontrol agent.  Trees discovered to be highly attractive (i.e., sentinel trees) to ALB might be used by APHIS for monitoring, or perhaps in an attract-and-kill strategy, in support of the eradication program.  Chemicals that repel ALB egg laying may be useful in controlling the spread of beetles, and might be wedded in a repel-and-attract strategy with the sentinel trees.  The acoustic devices performed well under natural field conditions in New York City.  Two have now been purchased by APHIS.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Biological Control of Insects Research Unit in Columbia, Missouri, found cell lines with improved resistance to selected baculoviruses.  Insect cell cultures were exposed over numerous passages to selected baculoviruses, then tested for their sensitivity to the virus.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Scientists can use these cell lines to better understand the mechanism of insect resistance to viruses.

develop methods for manipulating the genomes of insect pests and associated organisms including genomic sequencing and for transferring genes into insect cells to be used in biologically-based control strategies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Exotic and Invasive Diseases and Pests Research Unit in Parlier, California, have shown that grapevines treated with Messenger, a commercially available harpin-containing product, showed lower Pierce’s disease incidence than those in untreated control grapevines.  Also, a biologically active factor in the causative bacterium [Xylella fastidiosa (Xf)] that induces chlorosis in Chenopodium species was partially purified and characterized.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The harpin-containing product finding suggests that resistance to infection by the causative bacterium Xf may be induced in grapevines.  The characterized protein is a potential candidate as a virulence/pathogenicity factor in Xf, which can be studied by genomic methods capitalizing on the sequencing of the Xf genome.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Biological Control of Insects Research Unit in Columbia, Missouri, transferred DNA to several cell lines and observed for expression of red fluorescence to provide a better understanding of baculovirus host range.  When testing for resistance of a modified baculovirus (AcMNPV) following exposure to ultraviolet light (UV-B), red fluorescence of the protein occurred.  Although there was not a significant increase in resistance to UV-B, several modified viruses were better than the parental wild type virus following exposure to UV-B.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These experiments provide a tool for elucidating resistance at the cellular level, and demonstrate that gene fusion to the polyhedrin gene is feasible and could provide a useful means for testing other genes for their UV protective effect or for reduction in the time required for activity.

develop and demonstrate improved cultural, chemical, and biological methods for control and management of soil-borne diseases.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Salinas, California, completed evaluations of commercially available strawberry cultivars under strict organic production conditions and identified three cultivars as highest performing.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was transferred to growers by working with a farm advisor and the California Cooperative Extension Service, enabling growers to make informed cultivar choices based on yield and quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers at Ft. Pierce, Florida, conducted large scale demonstration trials on commercial vegetable farms that validated use of Telone 35, applied using a deep placement coulter system, with the herbicides pebulate, napropamide and/or trifluralin provided levels of weed and disease control similar to soil fumigation with methyl bromide/chloropicrin without injury to the plants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These trials demonstrated that it is feasible to adopt chemical alternatives to methyl bromide without causing major vegetable production disruptions. 

develop and demonstrate improved methods for applying fumigants to minimize the hazard to workers and the general public.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Experiments at Riverside, California, demonstrated that commonly used agrochemicals, including fertilizers and nitrification inhibitors, could be used to rapidly degrade soil fumigants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These experiments could lead to new approaches to minimize emissions and prevent leaching of fumigants in agricultural systems.

develop biologically-based integrated weed management systems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Beltsville, Maryland, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division, Annapolis, Maryland, determined the distribution and host-specificity of Aceria anthocoptes, a microscopic mite that attacks Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense.  The mite was discovered in the United States during the previous year.  The survey indicated that the mite is widely distributed, being present in the mid-Atlantic and North Central regions, and is highly species-specific, having only Canada thistle as its host. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Canada thistle is one of the most widespread and damaging invasive weeds in North America.  Currently, there are no affordable control methods for this weed.  However, an effective biological control agent would save growers and natural area managers millions of dollars per year.  The study demonstrates that, while Aceria anthocoptes is highly host-specific, it is already relatively abundant in the United States.  Since, the mite may function as a vector of plant viruses, additional research is being conducted to clarify this point.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Australian invasive tree, Melaleuca quinquenervia, is the most serious threat to the Florida Everglades and is spreading rapidly.  There are no affordable and environmentally friendly methods to control melaleuca.  Biological control using host-specific natural enemies from Australia offers the only possibility of controlling the tree by reducing its ability to produce massive amounts of seeds.  ARS scientists at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in collaboration with Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Engineers, and South Florida Water Management District personnel, released a sap-sucking psyllid bug, Boreioglycaspis melaleucae, that is complementing damage caused by the tip-feeding weevil, Oxyops vitiosa, released during FY 1997.  Over 150,000 psyllids were released and are spreading rapidly.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Young psyllids suck plant juices and inject saliva that kills the leaf tissue so that small plants die 2 months after infestation, and before they set seed.  The combination of the psyllid and weevil should contribute significantly to control of this invasive weed, which will improve significantly the ecology of the Everglades.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Intercrossing between rice and red rice, a dominant weed in the southern United States, may become problematic when herbicide-resistant rice systems come into use.  DNA/PCR microsatellite fingerprinting analyses were conducted to quantify rates of outcrossing between three imidasolinone-resistant rice cultivars and red rice at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, Stuttgart, Arizona, in cooperation with the University of Arkansas.  Outcrossing between these imidazolinone-resistant rice cultivars and red rice was found to occur at very low levels and lessened with decreasing synchronization of flowering under field conditions.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A key management consideration in herbicide-resistant rice systems may be to plant rice cultivars that are least likely to flower during the same period as the infesting population of red rice.  This may result in reducing the rate of herbicide resistance to improve management of red rice, saving growers millions of dollars per year.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Reductions in tillage frequencies brought on by expansions in farm size has resulted in increased weed problems.  ARS scientists at New Orleans, Louisiana, in cooperation with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and various industry partners, conducted field studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of several new herbicides, including clomazone and sulfentrazone, for controlling problem weeds in the sugarcane crop. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The demonstration of effective weed control led to a full Federal label for use of clomazone in sugarcane for bermudagrass, itchgrass, and johnsongrass control and a Section 18, "Emergency Use" registration of sulfentrazone for morning glory and nutsedge control the 2001-2002 growing season.  Use of these herbicides will result in increased control of these problematic weeds, and will reduce the sugarcane industry’s dependence on the herbicides atrazine and 2, 4-D, both of which have been identified as threats to the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  No-till soybean production requires the use of effective herbicides combined with rapid soybean canopy closure for optimum weed management.  ARS scientists in Urbana, Illinois, designed a study to determine if combining fungicide seed treatments, reducing dosages of herbicide, and various soybean seeding rates affected weed management and soybean yield.  Results showed that increased seeding rates reduced time to canopy closure and increased yields, whereas use of a fungicide seed treatment improved stands and reduced canopy closure in about a third of the environments evaluated. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In most environments, reduced herbicide dosages provided adequate weed control and maintained high yields.  These findings show the potential for combining fungicides and high soybean seeding rates to allow effective weed management, even with reduced herbicide inputs.

make control measures available for suppressing tall whitetop, an exotic invasive weed that threatens temperate desert rangelands in the Western United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Biological control of whitetop, a highly invasive exotic weed, is a high priority in several Western States, however, no economical or environmentally compatible strategies are available for whitetop control.  ARS scenists at Sidney, Montana, conducted pathogenicity testing on fungal cultures from field-collected diseased whitetop plants.  They found that the isolates are virulent against whitetop.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  If the fungal isolates prove highly virulent in the field, they may limit the rapid spread of whitetop and be compatible with introduction of classical biological control agents being sought in Europe.

acquire and test in quarantine a biological control agent for Yellow starthistle, a widespread weed that is infesting Western rangeland.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Several insects have already been established on Yellow starthistle, but their effect is variable.  ARS scientists in Montpellier, France, have found several new potential biological control agents for Yellow starthistle.  Scientists at Albany, California, have established a colony of the most recent natural enemy, Ceratapion basicone, for host-specificity testing.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Several years more research are needed to establish the specificity of C. basicone.  If it is sufficiently specific to Yellow starthistle, it will be released in the field and evaluated against target and non-target species.

develop improved methods for biological controls of invasive weeds on rangelands.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Saltcedar, an invasive shrub from Eurasia, infests many Western U.S. waterways and stream banks where it causes both economic and environmental losses.  Detailed studies were conducted by ARS scientists at the Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California, on saltcedar and native plant (cottonwoods and willows) seed germination and establishment.  Biological control agents have also been discovered, released, and being evaluated.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Saltcedar seed was found to be extremely viable, but short-lived, and able to establish with overbank flooding throughout the summer, whereas the native seeds are only produced early in the season and not able to compete with saltcedar later in the year.  This research is important as it will interface with on-going investigations of biological control and will provide revegetation strategies for land managers that are interested in removing and replacing saltcedar.

demonstrate new methods to reduce leafy spurge, an invasive weed, on rangeland in the Central Great Plains to enable the native species to reestablish.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Successful biological control of the invasive exotic weed leafy spurge may be enhanced by the combination and interaction of specific herbivorous insects and plant pathogens. Researchers from the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Laboratory in Sidney, Montana, investigated the bacterial community associated with highly successful leafy spurge biological control sites at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota. These studies showed that the dominant members of the bacterial community being vectored by the leafy spurge flea beetles were gram positive, belonging largely to the Coryneform group.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The identification and evaluation of the biological control potential of bacteria species isolated at sites where flea beetles have the greatest impact on leafy spurge may lead to the development of microbial biological control agents that work with insects to significantly decrease the spread and establishment of leafy spurge on rangelands.

develop alternative weed management systems for irrigated peanuts with less dependence on herbicides.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Adoption of reduced peanut tillage in the southeast coastal plain has increased over the last several years in an effort to reduce production costs and increase timeliness of crop production operations.  A multi-year study was initiated to evaluate changes of composition in weed species and management costs in various reduced tillage systems that include peanut and cotton.  In the third year of this study, perennial weeds in the reduced tillage systems has ocurred, causing significantly higher management costs. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reduced tillage and labor costs appeared to be a major advantage of reduced tillage systems, which are being increasingly adopted.  However, this research shows that growers need to be aware that reduced tillage systems may affect the weed species composition, shifting from annual weeds to more difficult to control perennial weeds previously held in check by tillage operations, so that weed management costs may increase in these systems.  Additional research to address this issue is planned.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to develop and test improved traps and methods for the accurate and rapid survey of mosquitoes and other flies that vector animal and human diseases.

characterize the molecular and physiological basis of vector susceptibility to vesicular stomatitis, bluetongue and other viruses affecting U.S. livestock.

develop the technology for producing male-only lines of genetically transformed screwworms to be used in the APHIS eradication campaign.

identify and test for the Department of Defense candidate mosquito repellents to replace DEET.  Identify novel compounds and methods that can be used in attracting or repelling arthropods of veterinary medical or structural significance.

develop improved methods for control and management of disease losses in plants using improved cultural, chemical, and biological control systems and increased host plant resistance.

develop basic knowledge about the ecology, epidemiology, and genetic variability of plant pathogens to identify potential points of control.

develop improved detection and identification methods for viruses, bacteria, and fungi-causing plant diseases.

describe the genetic variability, epidemiology, and ecology of diseases.

continue to develop and demonstrate insect control technologies as alternatives to pesticides that endanger human health and the environment.

continue development and expansion of areawide pest management programs demonstrating alternatives to at-risk and other environmentally hazardous pesticides.

continue to provide critical identifications of newly found pest species, provide urgently needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally important insect groups.

use classical and augmentative biological control approaches along with conserving natural enemies to suppress invasive insect and weed pests with parasites, predators, and pathogens.  This includes using ARS overseas laboratories to collect, evaluate, and ship new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories.  This also includes developing methods to conserve, mass produce, and deliver those that are beneficial; and determining pest and natural enemy biologies (behavior, host range, interactions with plant signaling), persistence, and impact.

develop methods for manipulating the genomes of insect pests and associated organisms (includes genomic sequencing and development of methods for transferring genes into insect cells) to be used in biologically-based control strategies.

develop and/or demonstrate biological or ecologically-based integrated weed management systems for cropping systems and rangelands.

develop and demonstrate improved cultural, chemical, and biological methods for control and management of soil-borne diseases.

develop and demonstrate improved methods for applying fumigants to minimize the hazard to workers and the public.

purify and biochemically characterize the supposedly bluetongue virus receptor in biting midges and determine whether selected species of biting midges are susceptible to infection with vesicular stomatitis virus.

continue work toward developing a genetic sexing strain of screwworms, using both classical, genetic, and transgenic approaches for use in the mass rearing facility in the Program for the Eradication of Screwworms.

identify a replacement repellent for DEET, a replacement fabric impregnate for permethrin, and continue to discover and develop spatial repellents and attractant inhibitors as new technologies for protecting animals and humans from attack by blood-feeding arthropods.

screen a biting midge salivary gland gene library, select potential bluetongue virus receptor genes, and characterize salivary proteins that have an effect on bluetongue virus infectivity.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop and test improved traps and attractants for the accurate, specific and rapid survey of mosquitoes and other arthropods that cause animal and human diseases.

develop, evaluate, and transfer to  the Department of Defense topical repellents and control systems to protect deployed American military personnel from arthropod vectors of disease.

investigate the physiological basis of vector competence and develop novel methods for controlling arthropods dangerous to animals and humans

evaluate the introduction of mutated algae on wild type counterparts in catfish ponds as a strategy to control off-flavor in catfish.

develop and demonstrate improved cultural, chemical, and biological methods for control and management of soil borne diseases.

develop and demonstrate improved methods for applying fumigants to minimize the hazard to workers and the general public.

develop improved methods for control and management of disease losses in plants using improved cultural, chemical, and biological control systems and increased host plant resistance.

develop basic knowledge about the ecology, epidemiology, and genetic variability of plant pathogens to identify potential points of control.

develop improved detection and identification methods for viruses, bacteria, fungi, and fastidious microbes causing plant diseases.      

identify and characterize genes for disease and pest resistance in crop plants, closely related non-crop species, and alien species to enhance opportunities for developing host plant resistance and incorporate such genes into commercially acceptable varieties.

develop fundamental knowledge about insect biology and ecology that provides the foundation for effective control strategies.

develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) components and systems for environmentally sound insect pest control.

continue development and expansion of areawide IPM programs.

develop and/or demonstrate biologically- or ecologically-based integrated weed management systems for cropping, rangeland, and natural areas. 

develop and transfer to action agencies technology for exclusion, early detection and eradication, and management of invasive weeds, including those that may be used as biological agents threatening biosecurity. 

expand the areawide pest management program by adding five new projects selected by peer review. 

continue to provide critical identifications of newly found pest species, provide severely needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally important insect groups.

use classical and augmentative biological control approaches, together with conserving natural enemies to suppress invasive insect and weed pests with parasites, predators, and pathogens.  This includes using ARS overseas laboratories to collect, evaluate, and ship new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories; development of methods to conserve, mass produce, and deliver those that are beneficial; and determining pest and natural enemy biologies (behavior, host range, interactions with plant signaling), persistence, and impact.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop and test improved traps and attractants for the accurate, specific and rapid survey of mosquitoes and other arthropods that cause animal and human diseases.

develop, evaluate, and transfer to the Department of Defense topical repellents and control systems to protect deployed American military personnel from arthropod vectors of disease.

investigate the physiological basis of vector competence and develop into novel methods for controlling arthropods dangerous to animals and humans.

develop improved methods for control and management of disease losses in plants using improved cultural, chemical, and biological control systems and increased host plant resistance.

develop basic knowledge about the ecology, epidemiology, and genetic variability of plant pathogens to identify potential points of control.

develop improved detection and identification methods for viruses, bacteria, fungi, and fastidious microbes causing plant diseases.            

identify and characterize genes for disease and pest resistance in crop plants, closely related non-crop species, and alien species to enhance opportunities for developing host plant resistance and incorporate such genes into commercially acceptable varieties.

develop fundamental knowledge about insect biology and ecology that provides the foundation for effective control strategies.

develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) components and systems for environmentally sound insect pest control.

continue development and expansion of areawide IPM programs.

develop and/or demonstrate biologically- or ecologically-based integrated weed management systems for cropping, rangeland, and natural areas. 

develop and transfer to action agencies technology for exclusion, early detection and eradication, and management of invasive weeds, including those that may be used as biological agents threatening biosecurity.

expand the areawide pest management program by adding five new projects selected by peer review. 

continue to provide critical identifications of newly found pest species, provide severely needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally important insect groups.

use classical and augmentative biological control approaches, together with conserving natural enemies to suppress invasive insect and weed pests with parasites, predators, and pathogens.  This includes using ARS overseas laboratories to collect, evaluate, and ship new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories; development of methods to conserve, mass produce, and deliver those that are beneficial; and determining pest and natural enemy biologies (behavior, host range, interactions with plant signaling), persistence, and impact.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.2.2:  Demonstrate scientific measures, practices, and systems to achieve humane care of food animals.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

devise practical approaches to prevent piglet hypothermia and improve survival within production settings.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Demonstrated that maintaining the piglet in warm environments or pre-treatment with aspire-like compounds will prevent hypothermia and improve survival.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The research was published in scientific journals and presented at a national pork industry meeting.  The technology will reduce baby pig mortality.

complete evaluation of a swine growth model in a production setting using a respiration sensor to indicate stress.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the Biological Engineering Research Unit, Clay Center, Nebraska, updated the swine growth model to accommodate new leaner genetic lines of swine.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The research was published and technology was transferred and made available for producer use.  This information can be used to reduce stress in lean pigs.

During FY 2003, ARS will develop a fear and anxiety model for use in evaluating stresses of transported cattle, and the social and housing preferences of swine.

During FY 2004, ARS will evaluate immunological indicators of well-being on piglets of sows in groups and stall gestation housing.

During FY 2005, ARS will evaluate immunological indicators of well-being on piglets of sows in groups and stall gestation housing.

STRATEGY 2.1.3:  Germplasm resources and genomics:  Acquire, preserve, evaluate, describe, and enhance genetic resources and develop new knowledge and technologies to increase the productive capacity and usefulness of plants, animals, and other organisms. 
 

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.3.1:  Collections of well-documented germplasms of importance to U.S. agricultural security are readily available to scientists and breeders for research and development.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

develop wild alfalfa accessions from China as a possible cultivated crop and begin field evaluations for productivity and survivability.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists from Beltsville, Maryland, collected two rare, wild relatives of cultivated alfalfa.  One was found in an alpine zone and the other in an arid zone.  Both show high tolerance to stressful environments.  Symbiotic rhizobia was also collected from the root zones of the wild relatives, and one species of Rhizobium has been isolated.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Field evaluations indicate that the newly found plants have potential as a forage crop for extreme climates.  These plants could provide genetic material for breeding programs to improve existing varieties of cultivated alfalfa by increasing yield and persistence and resistance to insects and disease.

complete the identification in Turkey of natural enemies of Yellow starthistle, a major invasive weed, and ship promising species to the U.S. for quarantine evaluation.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists from Albany, California, found an insect, Ceratapion basicorne, that appears to have the potential for biological control of Yellow starthistle.  A colony of these insects has been established in the laboratory quarantine facility and initial tests completed to assess the insect’s suitability as a biological control agent.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Yellow starthistle is poisonous to horses and injurious to other animals.  It is the most widespread weed in California, covering 20 million acres.  A safe, affordable, effective biological control method would play a key role in restoring these lands ecologically and reducing economic losses.

identify threatened germplasm in natural habitats and in genebanks as a vital first step for conserving these genetic resources.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  USDA/ARS scientists and Paraguayan counterparts collected wild and cultivated peanuts in Paraguay in May 2002.  Half of the germplasm was incorporated into Paraguay’s national genebank, and the remainder into the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New genetic material of wild perennial peanuts may assist breeders in developing and selecting improved lines and cultivars of forage peanuts, with potential for use in turf, erosion control, ornamentals, and feed for domestic animals and wildlife.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center (OPGC) at Ohio State University in Columbus became fully operational during FY 2002.  To handle incoming samples, the seed storage facilities were improved and a seed multiplication program initiated with both field pollination cages and greenhouse plantings.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More than 950 samples of herbaceous ornamental germplasm were incorporated into the OPGC, where they are readily available for distribution to researchers worldwide for crop improvement and basic biological studies. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers coordinated and assisted in the development, review, funding and execution of 26 plant explorations in 19 different foreign countries and 8 explorations in areas of the United States. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The plant explorations acquired germplasm that has been incorporated into the NPGS, where it is safeguarded and accessible to researchers worldwide. Non-monetary benefit sharing associated with several foreign plant explorations has enabled USDA to obtain access to genetic resources despite challenging conditions. 

improve methods for preserving beneficial microbes, insects, and wild relatives of crops in native habitats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In cooperation with scientific counterparts in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Guatemala, ARS scientists completed inventories of wild crop relatives in native areas.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The completed inventories furnished the initial field data required to set priorities for conservation of important crop wild relatives in those nations.  With the data, conservation planners can begin to compile more specific plans for priority on-site conservation efforts.

perfect methods for maintaining germplasm in long term under conditions (low temperature and/or controlled atmosphere) that ensure viability, health, genetic integrity, and uniformity, as well as providing a sufficient supply for research and breeding.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Research conducted by USDA/ARS researchers with support of a grant from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service evaluated factors affecting successful implementation of preservation protocols (storage conditions, optimal plant organ or tissues) for plant germplasm.  USDA/ARS scientists and cooperators spent 4-5 days in each participating laboratory in Scotland, Germany, Poland, and Kazakhstan where they demonstrated methods, and suggested improvements to existing procedures.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  For each laboratory, deficiencies in standard preservation methods and the means for correctly instituting the protocols were investigated.  A second set of experiments will be performed with the corrected protocols to ensure that the methods are effective.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Long-term preservation protocols are needed for clonally propagated germplasm to reduce costs of maintaining materials in field orchards and to protect germplasm from natural catastrophes.  ARS researchers evaluated dormant vegetative buds of more than 1,000 samples of apple, and more than 40 of its wild relatives for survival following desiccation, initial exposure to liquid nitrogen, and eight years of storage at about -120C at the USDA/ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation.  About 90 percent of the accessions and nearly 60 percent of the species tested were cryopreserved successfully, and most showed little change in viability over the eight years of storage.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Some of the underlying mechanisms of tolerance to cryoexposure were elucidated, which may help with establishing a genetically representative, cryopreserved apple germplasm collection.  That knowledge is applicable to developing preservation protocol for other fruit and nut germplasm.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Long-term preservation of Cuphea germplasm has not been possible because some species are killed by -18C storage conditions.  ARS researchers at Ft. Collins, Colorado, demonstrated that sensitivity to freezing damage in seeds of different Cuphea species was correlated with the fatty acid composition and melting temperature of the storage lipids, with seeds dying if they are hydrated before the intracellular storage lipids are melted.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research showed that a simple heat pulse that melted seed lipids before seed storage prevented any measurable damage to the seeds.  The findings are potentially applicable to many other seed species that produce saturated lipids and are difficult to store.

evaluate protocols for storing DNA or nuclei isolated from plant and insect cells.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  None at present. This high risk, exploratory research was accorded relatively low priority by OSQR review panels, so it has not yet been addressed.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  None at present.

develop methods for maintaining injurious microbial and insect germplasm in combination with the host plants they attack.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers and cooperators at the University of Hawaii developed a rapid detection assay for the strain of the bacterium, Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes ginger wilt.  The virulence and host range of sixteen local ginger wilt strains were tested and the genetic diversity of fifty-five local strains was analyzed.  The specificity of a panel of eight selected monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) was tested and the two most appropriate MAbs for ginger wilt strains in Hawaii were selected. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The preceding research yielded a rapid diagnostic ELISA test for ginger wilt, and furnished a foundation for developing an enrichment trapping/immunodiagnostic procedure and evaluation system for detecting R. solanacearum in soil extracts.

identify sources of new genetic variability and conduct genetic studies to detect novel genes for crop improvement.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in College Station, Texas, conducted a wide-scale sampling of genetic variability in natural stands of pecan by measuring leaflet area, trunk diameter, and leaf mineral content.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Variation in leaflet area, trunk diameter, and leaf mineral content was correlated to various degrees with ecogeographical distribution of the trees sampled.  Populations from west Texas and Mexico appeared to be the most genetically divergent.  These results may help improve the efficiency of breeding regionally adapted pecan rootstocks.

develop more efficient and effective means for multiplying germplasm stored in genebanks and for monitoring its viability, health, and genetic content.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  High variation in the number of progeny produced per plant in a population may lead to lower effective population size and susceptibility to random genetic drift, which must be minimized for optimal germplasm conservation.  ARS researchers in Pullman, Washington, developed a cost effective field grow-out method that maximizes the effective population size.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research provides a sound scientific basis for increasing the number of seeds for populations while minimizing genetic drift, thus enabling efficient and economic strategies for maintaining germplasm collections, especially those of outcrossing grasses.

where appropriate, designate core subsets for crop collections to improve accessibility of the genetic diversity within each crop and their wild relatives.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers in Tifton, Georgia, developed and designated a core subset for the USDA/ARS peanut collection.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The preceding new core subset had the immediate impact of significantly increasing the number of peanut accessions evaluated for valuable agronomic traits.  This led to the identification of host-plant resistance to several economically important peanut pathogens.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The designated core subsets for apple and its wild ancestor were assessed by ARS scientists and cooperators at Colorado State University for genetic variation in total phenolic content and other antioxidants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Total phenolic content was very diverse in this core subset, suggesting that, for the most part, the initial designation of subset membership captured a broad spectrum of genetic diversity.

During FY 2003, ARS will

evaluate multi-year results concerning differences in tannin and hydrogen cyanide production among Lotus species for potential beneficial effects to grazing animals.

complete publications that document the genetic variation that exists among native grass accessions from preserved remnant prairies, and document that in situ preservation of the germplasm using preserved remnant prairies is an effective mechanism for preserving the prairie germplasm.

identify new sources of genetic variability and acquire new accessions to enhance the diversity of plant germplasm collections.

acquire and safeguard additional microbial and insect germplasm to enhance the use of beneficial microbes and insects.

identify and characterize genes for resistance to develop host plant resistance in crop plants.

improve methods of evaluating host resistance, e.g., identifying molecular markers for resistance.

identify new sources of resistance genes through the integration of the genes by conventional breeding and bioengineered methods.

During FY 2004, ARS will

identify and characterize genes for resistance in crop plants to develop host plant resistance.

improve methods of evaluating host resistance, e.g., identifying molecular markers for resistance.

identify new sources for resistance genes through the integration of the genes by conventional breeding and bioengineered methods.

identify and exchange new sources of plant, microbial, and insect genetic variability, especially those threatened in natural habitats, so as to conserve them and augment the diversity of genes available for research or genetic improvement.

improve methods for conserving plants, beneficial microbes, and insects in genebanks.

During FY 2005, ARS will

identify and characterize genes for resistance in crop plants to develop host plant resistance.

improve methods of evaluating host resistance, e.g., identifying molecular markers for resistance.

identify new sources for resistance genes through the integration of the genes by conventional breeding and bioengineered methods.

identify and exchange new sources of plant, microbial, and insect genetic variability, especially those threatened in natural habitats, so as to conserve them and augment the diversity of genes available for research or genetic improvement.

improve methods for conserving plants, beneficial microbes, and insects in genebanks. 
 

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.3.2:  Documented DNA base sequences of agricultural importance.

Indicators:          

During FY 2002, ARS will

evaluate and report the results of transgenic modification of two alfalfa genes to improve growth, protein content, nitrogen fixation, and nitrogen utilization.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Genes affecting aluminum tolerance, disease resistance, and fiber digestibility have been characterized by scientists at St. Paul, Minnesota, who introduced them into alfalfa plants.  Crosses have been made with these enhanced plants and their offspring are being evaluated.  The enhanced plants are now being evaluated under a variety of field environmental conditions to identify those that are the most promising, which will provide the germplasm for developing new commercial varieties.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Alfalfa is the third largest crop after corn and soybeans.  Improving aluminum tolerance will allow production in areas that are now too acid.  Improving disease resistance will increase crop persistence and reduce production costs by reducing the frequency of reseeding.  Improved fiber digestibility enables livestock to gain more energy from alfalfa at a lower production cost.

identify molecular genetic markers for cold temperature growth in Leymus wild ryes, salt tolerance in alfalfa, and apomictic behavior in sandberg bluestem, so that populations can be screened to identify germplasm having these desired characteristics to improve seedling vigor, productivity, and ground cover.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Logan, Utah, have identified markers for several characteristics of Leymus wild ryes, including cool temperature growth, digestible carbohydrate content, and nutrient composition.  Scientists at Prosser, Washington, have developed an improved method for determining alfalfa genotypes using a novel method based on PCR techniques.  This method can identify markers rapidly and accurately (>98 percent) to determine the number of copies of important genes.  Scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, have evaluated hybrids of native bluestem grasses for desired forage characteristics.  In crossing Sandberg bluestem (produces seed sexually) and Texas bluestems (produces viable seeds without fertilization, i.e., "apomictic"), the scientists found that some of the hybrids were apomictic.  This mix of hybrid bluestems made it possible to find genetic markers for the presence of apomixis.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Identifying markers for important characteristics in rye and other grasses will make it possible for plant breeders to improve forage crops more rapidly and economically.  The great majority of molecular markers in alfalfa and other plants are for dominant characteristics.  These markers cannot be used to identify plants with a copy of a recessive gene when one or more copies of the dominant gene are present.  Expensive and time‑consuming greenhouse tests are required to identify plants with a recessive gene that has desired qualities, such as salt tolerance in alfalfa.  This method will accelerate plant-breeding programs and can be broadly applied for genotyping all diploid plant species.  The advantage of apomictic seed production in bluestem and certain other grasses is that all the seeds have exactly the same genetic makeup, and will always produce plants with identical characteristics.  Having such markers allows plant breeders to select plants with desirable forage qualities that will always breed true.  This reduces the cost of seed production and provides farmers and ranchers with the certainty the forages they are planting will have the improved characteristics.

perfect and implement highly efficient methods for determining DNA sequence variability in genomes.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers and scientists at the University of Nebraska and Cornell University developed an innovative reporter transposon-tagging method for rapidly and efficiently identifying functional Hrp gene promoters by analyzing the entire genome of the important bacterial plant pathogen P. syringae.  The Hrp genes are important because they control a variety of functions essential for virulence.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This combined experimental/computational approach identified variation in bacterial genomic structure potentially important in pathogenesis.  These findings may accelerate efforts to develop control strategies for bacterial diseases of plants.

arrange in order expressed sequence-tagged sites (ESTs) in crop genomes, and discover their associated biological functions.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The wheat chromosomal regions containing genes (as revealed by mapping of expressed sequences) have been poorly characterized, despite the crop’s worldwide importance.  ARS researchers are completing the first detailed analyses of a single segment of the wheat genome that contains the high-molecular-weight (HMW) glutenin genes encoding the proteins most responsible for wheat’s food quality, and the unique range of products that can be produced from wheat flour.  The DNA sequence of the HMW-glutenin region was determined for all three regions within wheat, plus the similar region for barley.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This first complete description of this critical region of the wheat genome identified for the first time several adjacent genes not previously associated with the HMW-glutenin genes, which has important implications for understanding evolution of wheat and its relatives.

maintain genetic and genomic data on well conceived databases constructed with powerful, up-to-date information management software, and implemented on high speed, high capacity computer networks accessible via standard software from the Internet.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS and Cornell University researchers at Ithaca, New York, designed and constructed a relational database to house P. syringae genomic information.                         

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This database stores and makes readily accessible the results of DNA sequence analyses performed by a large suite of sequence-based tools (e.g., BLAST, glimmer, etc.).  The data generated and the analytical tools developed will help elucidate biologically significant features of bacterial genomes.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers from Ithaca, New York, in cooperation with scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, completed and released a portable and highly configurable Web-based genome browser now used by some genome databases and about a dozen commercial and academic Web sites.  They also completed and released a portable and highly configurable Web-based comparative map viewer, and completed and documented, but not yet released, a “portable” database for managing insertional mutagenesis projects. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These extensive computer programming efforts furnished additional bioinformatic tools that may accelerate the pace of gene discovery from, and functional analyses of, DNA sequences.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  USDA/ARS researchers at Albany, California, and Ithaca, New York, have enhanced existing genome database resources for wheat and barley in collaboration with researchers at National Library of Medicine and at the International Triticeae Initiative (Dundee, Scotland).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The developments will facilitate access to the increasing amounts of wheat and barley genomic data.  Such access is critical if U.S. cereal researchers are to make maximum progress in improving these important crops. 

construct and maintain more precise physical, genetic, and transcript genomic maps to estimate the number of genes that constitute crop genomes, the genomic location of these genes, and to elucidate comparative gene function, structure, and organization.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  USDA/ARS and University of California scientists at Davis, California, developed a molecular linkage map for walnut consisting of AFLP and SSR markers.  The SSR markers will yield data for a cultivar fingerprint database that is of interest to the walnut nursery industry.  To date, more than 30 of these markers have been extensively tested on 46 walnut cultivars.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The genetic map of walnut will facilitate genetic improvement efforts in that crop. The database, to be published on the Internet, will be used by the molecular marker service industry as a tool for maintaining genetic purity in walnut nursery stock.

distribute genomic probes and DNA primers as tools for more effectively mapping and identifying genes.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Tifton, Georgia, and cooperators at Sygenta Seeds, Inc. converted the RFLP genetic markers pl and al – which are associated with the content of maysin – to markers based on PCR (polymerase chair reaction).  They made available the relevant primer sequences needed for PCR amplification of the preceding markers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Maysin content corresponds closely to resistance and susceptibility to key corn insect pests such as corn earworm.  PCR amplification is a much more rapid and inexpensive procedure than RFLP analyses or direct biochemical determination of maysin content, so the availability of this primer information could greatly accelerate breeding of insect-resistant corn lines.

incorporate the most modern and effective methods of high volume gene sequencing, genetic mapping, gene expression assays, and related techniques into genomic research programs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Effector proteins are frequently used by bacteria to disrupt plant metabolism during infection.  ARS researchers and collaborators at Cornell University and the University of Nebraska developed an integrated laboratory-computational approach to identify effector proteins in the DNA sequence of bacterial pathogens in general, and in P. syringae in particular.  This method has been used to identify 23 previously unknown effector proteins in the P. syringae genome, and a patent application is now pending.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This new information is being used by plant pathologists to understand the molecular basis of pathogenesis and disease resistance.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Ithaca, New York, developed bioinformatic tools for annotating, analyzing, and visualizing bioinformatic data.  They designed a program to rapidly analyze nucleotide and amino acid sequence data, including parallel analyses on a supercomputer.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These new computer programs analyze nucleotide and amino acid sequence more rapidly, and make more efficient use of available computer hardware and software while doing so.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop differential display techniques to identify genes that regulate feed intake and energy metabolism of livestock.

correlate changes in body composition with genes associated with lean and fat deposition in swine and milk production of dairy cows.

determine target genes for enhancing mammary gland development in heifers, and to increase persistence of milk production.

demonstrate in transgenic cattle the effectiveness of a gene to prevent Staphylococcus aureus mastitis.

complete the placement of 1,000 markers within known genes on the USDA/ARS channel catfish linkage map using ARS reference populations.

develop at least 200 micro-satellite markers and at least 100 random sequence tag sites for mapping the rainbow trout genome.

identify in alfalfa and Medicago truncatula, DNA-base sequences related to nitrogen and carbon assimilation, plant disease response, and nutritional stress.

exploit genome sequence information to identify valuable genes in germplasm collections.

develop new DNA markers linked to disease resistance and weather stress tolerance to accelerate plant germplasm evaluation and breeding.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop DNA microarrays for gastro-intestinal (GI) genes in chickens and evaluate the nutritional effects on gene expression.

document the functional genomics of ticks, screwworms, mosquitoes, culicoides and other arthropods detrimental to animal and human health.

characterize and develop specific genetic tools to identify specific genes that mediate improved quality and composition of important agricultural commodities.

sequence and map expressed sequence tags (ESTs) to facilitate germplasm characterization.

develop new genetic tools, particularly DNA markers, to enhance plant breeding.

maintain genetic and genomic data on well‑conceived databases constructed with powerful, up‑to‑date information management software, and implemented on high‑speed, high‑capacity computer networks accessible via standard software from the Internet.

construct and maintain more precise physical, genetic, and transcript genomic maps to identify the genes underlying key agricultural traits and the genomic location of those genes, and to elucidate comparative gene function, structure, and organization.

exploit genome sequence and gene expression information to identify valuable genes and gene combinations in undeveloped genetic resources.

develop new DNA markers closely associated with resistance to disease, pests, environmental stresses, or with high-value quality traits.

During FY 2005, ARS will

identify new quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting reproduction and health traits from novel populations of dairy cattle.

document the functional genomics of ticks, screwworms, mosquitoes, culicoides and other arthropods detrimental to animal and human health.

identify sequences in forage plants that control the plant’s ability to adapt to stressful conditions such as disease, aluminum toxicity, salinity, and drought to aid breeders to improve plants that will increase economic and environmental sustainability.

characterize and develop tools to identify specific genes that mediate improved quality and composition of important agricultural commodities.

sequence and map expressed sequence tags (ESTs) to facilitate germplasm characterization.

develop new genetic tools, particularly DNA markers, to enhance plant breeding.

maintain genetic and genomic data on well-conceived databases constructed with powerful, up-to-date information management software, and implemented on high-speed, high-capacity computer networks accessible via standard software from the Internet.

construct and maintain more precise physical, genetic, and transcript genomic maps to identify the genes underlying key agricultural traits and the genomic location of those genes, and to elucidate comparative gene function, structure, and organization.

exploit genome sequence and gene expression information to identify valuable genes and gene combinations in undeveloped genetic resources.

develop new DNA markers closely associated with resistance to disease, pests, or environmental stresses, or with high value quality traits.              

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.3.3:  Release of improved germplasm, varieties, and breeds based on effective use of genetic resources.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

identify bermuda, fescue, and rye turf-grasses cultivars with improved tolerance to athletic field traffic and diseases, and evaluate management regimes for using these cultivars effectively.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program, located at Beltsville, Maryland, coordinates research at cooperating universities in 40 States and 5 Canadian provinces that evaluate the persistence, input requirements, and other qualities of the major turfgrasses.  The program consolidates the results.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The data provided aids turf managers in selecting the varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, fineleaf fescue, bent grass, and bermudagrass that are best adapted to their locations and turf needs.  This results in reduced costs and maximizes environmental benefits.

release four or five new cultivars of clover and trefoil better adapted to the Eastern United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Columbia, Missouri; Fresno, California; and Corvallis, Oregon, worked together to release and register five improved genetic stocks, including two narrowleaf trefoils, a big trefoil, and two birdsfoot trefoils.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Trefoils are useful nitrogen‑fixing forage plants that are high in protein, grow on acid soils, and do not cause bloating in livestock.  These new germplasm improvements will make using trefoils more affordable since the plants will be more productive, better adapted to a wider range of conditions, and more persistent.

release germplasm for an alfalfa line with improved pest resistance due to the selection of the genes for high density glandular hairs on the seedpod which protects the plant.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Manhattan, Kansas, released a variety of alfalfa with high‑density glandular hairs.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The dense hairs on the seedpod prevent certain insects from eating the tissue of the pod and reducing seed production.  Maintaining high levels of seed production with a genetic enhancement instead of using pesticides increases economic and environmental sustainability.

release a new dallisgrass cultivar resistant to ergot disease, and a klein grass cultivar for use in the Southeastern U.S.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A new dallisgrass cultivar is being released by ARS and university scientists at College Station, Texas,  and the Texas and Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Stations.  This new cultivar has significantly improved persistence and yields over common dallisgrass that is grown on hundreds of thousands of acres across the Gulf Coast region.  The release of a new variety of klein grass for use in the Southern Great Plains has been delayed because weather and other problems limited seed production for field testing.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Improving the forage yields and persistence of important forage grasses reduces input costs for both seed and livestock production which increases profitability and also helps to maintain good ground cover that protects soil, water, and other natural resources.

release new forage and grain pearl millet hybrids with stable disease resistance and increased yields under non-irrigated conditions.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS and University of Georgia scientists at Tifton, Georgia, have released a new pearl millet grain hybrid that has disease resistance and grain yields of 4,000‑5,000 kg/ha.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Grain pearl millet meets the need for a locally produced feed grain crop in the Southeast that provides high grain yields without irrigation and does not have aflatoxin problems.   

develop new crops from “wild” plants and microbes, and new genotypes of conventional crops, to further diversify the Nation’s agricultural production base and human diets, and to provide valuable new products (e.g., non-allergenic rubber from guayule latex).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Developed a non-transgenic soybean containing oil that requires less processing (hydrogenation) for food use. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Soybean oil is often hydrogenated in many food applications to improve flavor and functional properties of the oil, a process wherein some of the fatty acids are converted to ‘trans-fat’, which is a health concern.  Oil of this new soybean germplasm has a 3-fold increase in oleic acid concentration, which enables manufacture of high quality food products without oil hydrogenation.  This gives processors added flexibility for achieving better flavor, improved frying stability, and healthier food products.

identify new crops for medicinal uses.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Developed a natural compound from mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) that inhibits cell growth by affecting the formation of mitotic microtubular organizing centers.   

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The compound, podophyllotoxin, serves as a biochemical structural backbone for anti-cancer drugs. Cells treated with this natural product formed tubulin in cells, which prevents uncontrolled cell division.  This discovery shows promise as a new and inexpensive natural resource for the development of cancer fighting drugs. 

enhance the genetic base of gene pools through programs of recurrent genetic recombination and selection so they can be more easily used by breeders.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers in Stoneville, Mississippi, produced via recombination and selection, a soybean germplasm population with host-plant resistance to Phytophthora root rot and soybean cyst nematode.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The preceding line provides new genetic variability in host-plant resistance to these diseases and pests for incorporation into the southern-adapted soybean genepool.

incorporate into genepools new genetic variability continually from germplasm in nature, in genebanks, or in traditional farmers’ fields so as to decrease genetic vulnerability to pests, pathogens, and other threats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers in Stoneville, Mississippi, intercrossed cotton with some of its wild relatives and recovered hybrid plants via an embryo rescue technique. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The preceding wild relatives of cotton are highly resistant to the reniform nematode, which causes significant yield losses in cotton grown in the Southeastern United States.  These interspecific hybrids represent a potential avenue for incorporating new sources of host-plant resistance to this important pest into cotton gene pools adapted to the Southeastern United States.

strengthen breeding and evaluation programs for minor crops, such as certain vegetables and fruits which comprise an important part of the U.S. diet, and for nursery and floral crops, which are of increasing economic importance.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Securing sufficient seed supplies of the lethal yellowing (LY) resistant coconut varieties is a high priority of the tropical landscape nursery industry.  ARS researchers in Miami, Florida, analyzed genetic variation in ornamental coconut germplasm, with special emphasis on the 'Fiji Dwarf' variety that is very ornamental.  Research showed that an open pollinated stand of this variety maintained at modest distance from other varieties will likely yield pure 'Fiji Dwarf' seed nuts, and that contaminants could be identified molecularly using these markers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results represent a major step forward in breeding LY-resistant ornamental coconuts for the tropical landscape plant industry.

During FY 2003, ARS will

release a new grama grass cultivar for use in the Central Great Plains.

release a new fairway-type crested wheatgrass for use in the Central and Northern Great Plains.

release a switchgrass, big blue stem, and indiangrass germplasm based on collections from remnant prairies for use in the Midwest and Great Plains for USDA Hardiness Zones 4, 5, and 6.

release a new cultivar of kleingrass for use on pastures and grasslands of Texas and possibly other areas of the Southern Great Plains for livestock production and wildlife habitat.

complete the first field studies of maize-tripsacum hybrids to evaluate the impact of Tripsacum dactyloides genomic material on disease and insect resistance, and tolerance to environmental extremes in the Southern Great Plains and Midwest region of the United States.

develop new methods and tools to identify end product traits desired by consumers, such as specialty oils and grain qualities.

strengthen breeding and evaluation programs and identify new sources of diversity for minor crops, such as certain vegetables and fruits, which comprise an important part of the U.S. diet, and for nursery and floral crops, that are of increasing economic, ecological, and social importance.

develop and release germplasm with enhanced resistance to pests, pathogens, and weather damage.

enhance the genetic base through programs of recurrent genetic recombination and selection for viral resistance.

During FY 2004, ARS will

improve understanding and effectiveness of forage selection for establishment, digestibility and pest resistance, and release germplasm and cultivars adapted to the Southeastern environment.

provide increased understanding of plant processes that help grasses adapt to environmental stress, identify the molecular markers controlling these processes, and release improved germplasm and cultivars for use semi-arid lands to improve livestock forage production and turf management.

provide increased understanding of plant processes that aid alfalfa to resist pests and adapt to environmental stress, identify the genes controlling these processes, and release improved germplasm and cultivars.

develop new germplasm resources for commercial use that have significantly enhanced protein and oil quality.

develop new germplasm resources that have significantly enhanced starch and end-use grain quality.

develop new germplasm resources that have enhanced resistance to plant disease and pests.

conduct genetic engineering studies for viral resistance.

develop new crops from "wild" plants and microbes and new genotypes of conventional crops, so as to further diversify the Nation’s agricultural production base and its citizens’ diet, and provide new high-value products.

enhance the genetic base of crop gene pools through programs of recurrent genetic recombination and selection so these gene pools can be more easily used by breeders.

develop new analytical methods and genetic tools to identify end-product traits desired by consumers, such as specialty oils and grain qualities.

continually incorporate into gene pools new genetic variability from germplasm in nature, in gene banks, or in farmers' fields so as to decrease genetic vulnerability to pests, pathogens, and other threats.

strengthen breeding and evaluation programs for minor crops, such as vegetables and fruits of dietary importance, and nursery and floral crops, which are of increasing economic importance.

During FY 2005, ARS will

release improved grasses and forage legumes with higher nutritional quality and stress tolerance.

develop new germplasm resources for commercial use that have significantly enhanced protein and oil quality.

develop new germplasm resources  that have significantly enhanced starch and end-use grain quality.

develop new germplasm resources that have enhanced resistance to plant disease and pests.

conduct genetic engineering studies for viral resistance.

develop new crops from "wild" plants and microbes and new genotypes of conventional crops, so as to further diversify the Nation’s agricultural production base and its citizens’ diet, and provide new high-value products.

enhance the genetic base of crop gene pools through programs of recurrent genetic recombination and selection so these gene pools can be more easily used by breeders.

develop new analytical methods and genetic tools to identify end-product traits desired by consumers, such as specialty oils and grain quality.

continually incorporate into gene pools new genetic variability from germplasm in nature, gene banks, or farmers' fields so as to decrease genetic vulnerability to pests, pathogens, and other threats.

strengthen breeding and evaluation programs for minor crops, such as vegetables and fruits of dietary importance, and for nursery and floral crops, which are of increasing economic importance.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.3.4:  Improve methods for identifying useful properties of plants, animals, and other organisms, and for manipulating the genes associated with these properties.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

develop more effective statistical genetic approaches for analyzing genetic marker data.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Madison, Wisconsin, developed new statistical genetic approaches for analyzing randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) genetic marker variation in duplicate potato germplasm samples maintained by the U.S. national potato gene bank, Russia’s Vavilov Research Institute (VIR) potato gene bank, and in original and regenerated seed lots of the same potato samples.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These statistical analyses demonstrated that samples thought to be duplicates were actually genetically different, and suggested that little or no genetic variability was lost from potato samples as a result of seed increase.

conduct germplasm evaluations to identify and develop novel “high-value” industrial or ornamental traits, increased adaptation, vigor, and nutritional value, enhanced productive potential, capacity, and efficiency, and improved resistance to environmental extremes, pests, and diseases.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Introduction of new diseases, and genetic changes in pathogen and insect populations represent a major threat to crop production.  Host plant resistance provides the most economical means of controlling such pests.  ARS scientists evaluated thousands of sorghum samples for host-plant resistance to sorghum ergot in Puerto Rico. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Potential sources of resistance were identified.  It appeared that sorghum from specific countries might possess greater genetic diversity for types of host-plant resistance than in others.  These sources of resistance may furnish multiple pathways for effectively controlling diseases, thereby reducing crop loss and production costs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The incorporation of new genetic variability is vital for continued small grains genetic improvement.  ARS scientists at Aberdeen, Idaho, and Raleigh, North Carolina, evaluated more than 1,200 wheat accessions for host-plant resistance to powdery mildew in field trials in North Carolina and found that more than 180 samples were highly resistant. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was made available to researchers via the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database.  Seeds of the resistant lines were distributed to breeders for research purposes and germplasm enhancement, which may help accelerate development of new, improved cultivars.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS and university scientists evaluated thousands of wheat germplasm samples for host-plant resistance to Fusarium head blight, growth habit, spike and seed descriptors, and agronomic traits.  Thousands of barley germplasm samples were evaluated for beta-glucan, protein, and lipid content; and host plant resistance to stripe rust, crown rust, and barley stripe mosaic hordeivirus (BSMV).  The data from these evaluations were entered into the GRIN database. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Incorporating the evaluation data into GRIN facilitates its use by researchers worldwide. Seeds of valuable lines were distributed for research purposes and germplasm enhancement, including the development of new, improved cultivars.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Pungency in pepper is an economically important trait; however, information on pungency characteristics of pepper germplasm is not available, partially because of the relatively high cost of standard analytical procedures. An enzyme immunoassay (EIA) method was evaluated for its ability to estimate pungency in pepper fruit.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Results suggested that EIA is an effective alternative to HPLC, a relatively expensive analytical procedure, for analysis of pungency, which may encourage the use of this and similar techniques for analyzing pungency and other fruit quality characteristics.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Disease resistance in wild apple from Turkey was evaluated and horticultural evaluation of these and Central Asian, Chinese, and Russian Caucasus samples are underway.  Preliminary results indicate that the samples include resistant types.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  If these sources of resistance remain effective over time, they may furnish important new disease resistance genes for use in apple breeding programs.

perfect more efficient and effective germplasm evaluation methods which exploit genetic associations between useful traits and molecular (DNA) markets to facilitate crop improvement.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Stoneville, Mississippi, used variability of RFLP genetic markers to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in cotton that are statistically associated with important agronomic, physiological, and fiber quality traits.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The tangible statistical association of variability in the genetic markers with variation in important agronomic, physiological, and fiber quality traits may enable cotton breeders to forego expensive phenotypic evaluations and, instead, evaluate and select cotton breeding lines based on genetic marker genotypes.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Stoneville, Mississippi, identified RFLP markers with significant statistical association with host-plant resistance and susceptibility to reniform nematode.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The standard approaches for evaluating plants for host-plant resistance to nematodes involve tedious, labor-intensive, and expensive maintenance of nematode populations, followed by inoculation, and individual plant assessment.  Genetic markers may provide a far more rapid, accurate, and inexpensive means of evaluating cotton lines for host-plant resistance to this pest.

develop new fundamental knowledge about gene function, interactions, and mechanisms of gene regulation.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered two cell wall hydrolase genes that are expressed during infection of soybean cyst nematode susceptible soybeans.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Soybean cyst nematode is the major pest that limits U.S. soybean production causing about $1 billion in losses to farm income annually.  The discovery of genes that have high activity when soybeans are infected with soybean cyst nematode provides a new strategy for control of this pathogen.  The DNA that triggers the expression of these genes may be used to construct functional genes that produce proteins that are toxic to the nematode.  This approach may help prevent the infection process to avoid nematode-caused damage before it occurs.    

develop new knowledge about methods for gene transfer across wide genetic barriers and the mechanisms by which the process can be precisely controlled.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Determined that outcrossing between herbicide-resistant rice and the weed, red rice, occurs at very low levels and is reduced even more by decreasing synchronization of flowering under field conditions.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Rice producers will have new information about the biosafety of herbicide-resistant rice to help them in making management decisions.

describe the structure, function, and regulation of agriculturally important genes in model plants and crop plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered a gene that targets transgenes to non-grain tissue of barley

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This gene promoter can be used to target transgenes to the outer covering (chaff) of barley grains.  This will enable plant scientists to better protect grain from pests that can harm cereal grains without inserting the transgene into the grain that is consumed as food or feed.

During FY 2003, ARS will

establish key reference populations for major livestock species for use in genomic and germplasm evaluation research.

evaluate market assisted selection of cattle for carcass traits and calving ease.

test for the presence of genetic markers of selected strains of rainbow trout that correlate with growth and digestibility of cereal grain-based feeds.

develop more effective statistical genetic approaches for analyzing genetic-related market data.

conduct germplasm evaluations to identify and develop novel “high value” industrial or ornamental traits, increased adaptation, vigor, and nutritional value; enhanced productive potential, capacity, and efficiency; and improved resistance to environmental extremes, pests, and diseases.

perfect more efficient and effective germplasm evaluation methods which exploit genetic associations between useful traits and molecular (DNA) markers to facilitate crop improvement.

characterize plant genetic systems to expand knowledge about control of metabolic functions of plant cells, and use that knowledge to genetically modify plant composition or improve economically important traits.

improve plant genetic transformation systems to expand their usefulness and improve efficiency.

describe the structure, function, and regulation of agriculturally important genes in model plants and crop plants.

develop effective strategies to replace or augment antibiotics.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop the tools and protocols needed for screening cattle, swine, and poultry for the presence of genes associated with both the progression of hyper-responsiveness to disease and genes that must be induced to assist in restoring homeostasis.

develop marker assisted selection strategies to improve economically important traits such as disease resistance and dress-out percentage.

develop and enhance marker assisted breeding strategies for crops of horticultural importance

characterize plant genetic systems to expand knowledge about control of metabolic functions of plant cells and use the knowledge to genetically modify plant composition or improve economically important traits.

describe the structure, function, and regulation of agriculturally important genes in model plants and crop plants.

improve plant genetic transformation systems to expand their usefulness and improve efficiency.

develop effective strategies to replace or augment antibiotics.

develop more effective statistical genetic approaches for analyzing genetic marker data.

conduct germplasm evaluations to identify and develop novel "high‑value" industrial or ornamental traits, increased adaptation, vigor, and nutritional value, enhanced productive potential, capacity, and efficiency, or improved resistance to environmental extremes, pests, and diseases.

perfect more efficient and effective germplasm evaluation methods which exploit genetic associations between useful traits and DNA markers to facilitate crop improvement.

During FY 2005, ARS will

test the efficiency of on-surgical embryo transfer techniques in swine.

use improved models for QTL detection and marker assisted selection in complex pedigrees.

use genomic and proteomic information to identify critical regulatory steps controlling reproduction in beef cattle.

identify candidate genes for QTL in cattle and swine.

develop new marker systems in swine which will permit more rapid and economical genotyping.

develop trout lines with good stress responses and innate immunity.

develop and enhance marker assisted breeding strategies for crops of horticultural importance.

characterize plant genetic systems to expand knowledge about control of metabolic functions of plant cells and use the knowledge to genetically modify plant composition or improve economically important traits.

describe the structure, function, and regulation of agriculturally important genes in model plants and crop plants.

improve plant genetic transformation systems to expand their usefulness and improve efficiency.

develop effective strategies to replace or augment antibiotics.

develop more effective statistical genetic approaches for analyzing genetic marker data.

conduct germplasm evaluations to identify and develop novel "high‑value" industrial or ornamental traits, increased adaptation, vigor, and nutritional value, enhanced productive potential, capacity, and efficiency, or improved resistance to environmental extremes, pests, and diseases.

perfect more efficient and effective germplasm evaluation methods which exploit genetic associations between useful traits and DNA markers to facilitate crop improvement.

STRATEGY 2.1.4:  Plant and animal biological processes:  Develop biologically-based technologies to improve productivity, safety, nutrient content, and quality of plants, animals, microbial organisms, and their products.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.1.4.1:  Make technologies available for improving productivity, safety, and quality.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

develop life cycle husbandry practices of arctic char adapted to Appalachia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Life cycle husbandry practices of arctic char was completed and published in scientific reports.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Two producers are using this technology in West Virginia and one producer is using it in Canada.  This technology allows producers to raise and market Artic Char, a high-value food fish.

develop and assure one-tenth commercial scale recirculation systems (50 metric tons annual) for arctic char.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  One-tenth commercial scale recirculation system for arctic char is producing market-sized fish.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research has been published in scientific journals and is being used in commercial-scale char production in West Virginia and for Atlantic salmon smolt production in Maine, British Columbia, and New Brunswick, Canada.

develop a natural product treatment for safely controlling algae-related off flavors in catfish.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the National Product Laboratory in Oxford, Mississippi, in collaboration with Mississippi State University scientists, tested a natural product to control off-flavor under pond conditions with promising results.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A CRADA partner is being sought to commercialize this product.

work on developing detection, prevention, and control strategies for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A rapid diagnostic test has been developed for the detection of scrapie and chronic wasting disease.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Further understanding of the immunopathogenesis of diseases and detection and control measures to mitigate their effects will ultimately lead to greater productivity of livestock.  The transfer of the knowledge and technologies involved in the detection and control of scrapie, chronic wasting disease, and foot and mouth disease to industry and related government agencies, such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is necessary for the advances to be fully implemented.

work on developing sensitive diagnostic methods and effective vaccines to control foot and mouth disease.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A new recombinant vaccine against foot and mouth disease has been developed and an agreement has been entered into with a commercial company to further develop and validate this vaccine.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Further understanding of the immunopathogenesis of diseases and detection and control measures to mitigate their effects will ultimately lead to greater productivity of livestock.  The transfer of the knowledge and technologies involved in the detection and control of scrapie, chronic wasting disease, and foot and mouth disease to industry and related government agencies, such as APHIS, is necessary for the advances to be fully implemented.

work on determining the immunopathogenesis of porcine respiratory disease complex.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The immunopathogenesis of porcine respiratory disease complex has been further elucidated.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Further understanding of the immunopathogenesis of diseases and detection and control measures to mitigate their effects will ultimately lead to greater productivity of livestock.

develop new fundamental knowledge that will bring about regulation of the photosynthetic process for improved crop yields and production efficiency.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered the biochemical basis for heat tolerance in cotton.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Heat stress slows photosynthesis, thus reducing crop yields.  The photosynthetic enzyme that is most affected by heat stress can now be modified by plant scientists to maintain or even stimulate photosynthesis at high temperatures.             

develop new basic knowledge that will lead to improved efficiency in the use of inputs by plant production systems for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Identified peanut varieties with high water-use efficiency.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Development of methods to identify crop varieties that efficiently use water as well as producing good yields will promote crop production efficiency.  Breeding methods that include selection for water-use efficiency will lead to the release of “water-saver” peanut varieties.  

develop new knowledge that will lead to elucidation of regulatory mechanisms of plant growth and development.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered a gene (Clv3) as a key process in cell-to-cell communication during plant development.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This new discovery yields new information about how plants form new shoots and blooms.  The results can be used to develop new and unusual plants and flowers for growers and florists.

develop new basic knowledge about mechanisms of organismal interactions that will make possible  enhanced symbiotic or mutual associations of crop plants with other beneficial organisms.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Identified genes expressed in the root hairs of sorghum.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Determination of all the genes expressed in sorghum roots enables plant scientists to better understand the mutual association of crop plants with soil microorganisms.   New knowledge of natural products produced by crop plants can be used to incorporate use of beneficial microbes into crop management systems.

develop new fundamental knowledge that will improve the management of pests using environmentally safe methods by enhancing the plant’s natural processes of defense or by introducing new resistance mechanisms.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Biotechnology was used to protect peanuts from attack by viral diseases.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Transgenic peanut plants with an introduced coat protein will have enhanced protection from viral diseases.  These biotech plants will be resistant to tomato-spotted wilt virus, a virus causing significant losses to peanut production in the Southeast and becoming a threat in the Southwest.

develop new basic knowledge that will be the basis for improved productivity when crops are subjected to environmental stress.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered a wheat protein that helps protect winter wheat from freezing damage. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Severe freezing temperatures can kill winter and spring wheat resulting in major economic losses to producers and damage to the environment through soil erosion.  Discovery of a protein that accumulates in winter, but not spring wheat, subjected to freezing temperatures can accelerate the development of other, more cold-hardy crops and ornamental species.

develop new fundamental knowledge of plant processes that will lead to greater product quality, uniformity, and value, and to improved marketability of agricultural products.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered how to control the gene that is the key to making ripening tomatoes develop full flavor.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Current tomato production and shipping practices require that tomatoes be harvested before ripening.  While this makes possible long-term storage and shipping, the tomatoes do not always achieve full flavor.  Learning how to control the gene that regulates multiple ripening processes, including full flavor, will enable plant scientists to develop tomatoes with improved flavor and marketability.

develop new fundamental knowledge of plant processes that generate important nutritional and healthful properties of plants grown for human or animal consumption.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Genetic engineering was used to increased levels of antioxidants in tomato.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Transgenic strategies are just beginning to be used to improve phytonutrient content.  Development of tomatoes with enhanced antioxidants may be one of the first examples of the benefit of this new technology to improve healthfulness of foods.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  By 2002, a soybean strain was genetically engineered to remove a major human allergen.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Food allergies are an increasing concern for oilseed crops. A biotechnological approach called “gene silencing” was used to prevent the synthesis of an allergenic protein in soybean seed. The new allergen-minus soybean germplasm can be used to develop soy-based foods that have a lower allergenic risk to consumers.            

develop new underlying knowledge as the basis for predicting global change effects on crop productivity and to take advantage of any benefits of global change to enhance crop yields, competitiveness with weeds, and adaptation to changes in atmosphere and the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discovered biological mechanisms that confer thermotolerance in plants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Identification of an inducible, multi-component heat protection system in plants will provide the basis for identifying genes that can protect crops from warmer temperatures.  Plant breeders can exploit these genes to select plants that can thrive at warmer temperatures.

develop new knowledge that will enable production, storage, and processing of safe plant products to decrease incidences of mycotoxins and other contaminants of food and feed, and reduce levels of naturally-occurring toxicants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Determined the action mechanism of a Fusarium toxin that causes plant cell death.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New information shows that this toxin is a structural analogue of the simple sugar, fructose, and that the toxin is activated by phosphorylation.  This new information can be used to design strategies to inactivate this potent plant cell toxin.             

develop new knowledge of the occurrence and activities of biologically active natural products to enhance the ability to utilize this abundant natural resource.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Determined that kenaf has the ability to absorb larger molecular weight, odor-causing molecules such as benzaldehyde and P-cresol.

 IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Kenaf can be an effective alternative to activated carbon for odor control systems.  In the future, kenaf may be used to remove pungent odors generated by industries such as wood pulp processing plants.  Kenaf may also make a useful contribution to improving air quality.

address the issues raised by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 regarding the loss of many broad spectrum pest control products.  The ARS IR-4 program, a National agricultural program designed to clear pest management agents for minor uses, will cooperate with CSREES State partners to provide growers of minor crops with effective pest management agents that have a minimal impact on the environment and meet the more stringent safety requirements of FQPA.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  New tools are available for minor crop producers to reduce pest losses, improve yields, and maintain product quality.  The success of minor crop producers is tied closely to the IR‑4 (Minor Use Pesticide) Program, since the agrochemical industry, for economic reasons, does not pursue registration of chemicals for many small acreage crops.  At the request of minor crop growers, ARS scientists conducted high-priority field tests and residue analyses at Beltsville, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Tifton, Georgia; Wooster, Ohio; Urbana, Illinois; Weslaco, Texas; Prosser, Washington; Wapato, Washington; Corvallis, Oregon; and Salinas, California; that contributed to new use registrations, as well as emergency use exemptions for many fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals.  These uses included asparagus, cantaloupe, watermelon, basil, snap beans, floral, and nursery/greenhouse plants. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research focused on pest control materials having reduced risk chemistries to coincide with the goals of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, thus not only serving to promote the economic viability of minor crop growers, but also to provide safer pest management options.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop and evaluate a mobile, pond-side testing kit to enable field testing of therapeutic chemicals used for treating fish to satisfy FDA efficacy requirements.

develop a modified live and killed vaccine against Edwardsiella tarda for the prevention of E. tarda septicemia in a number of species of food fish.

work on developing sensitive diagnostic methods and effective vaccines to control foot and mouth disease.

develop new prevention and control strategies for Marek’s disease, Newcastle disease, and cattle fever.

work on developing detection, prevention, and control strategies for transmittable spongiform encephalopathies.

address emerging animal diseases offshore.

use fundamental knowledge about plant development, production efficiency, responses to environment, and interactions with other organisms to identify potential genetic sources of improvement for introduction into crops (including introduction by genetic engineering).

address the issues raised by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 regarding the loss of many broad spectrum pest control products.  The ARS IR-4 program, a national agricultural program designed to clear pest management agents for minor uses, will cooperate with CSREES-State partners to provide growers of minor crops with more effective pest management agents that have a minimal impact on the environment and meet the more stringent safety requirements of FQPA.

During FY 2004, ARS will

quantify yield and economics of three loading rates for channel catfish reared for market using an intensively managed, microbial-based production system.

determine stage-of-life differences for pigs microbial shedding response to transport.

continue to improve diagnostic and control methodologies for infectious diseases of animals and transfer the technology to commercial companies or government partners.

produce research data for clearances of pest control products on minor food and ornamental crops.  The ARS Minor Use Pesticide Program will cooperate in these efforts with the CSREES IR-4 program and their State partners, providing growers of minor crops with more effective pest management agents that have a minimal impact on the environment and meet the more stringent safety requirements of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.  ARS will concentrate its efforts on the newer reduced risk chemistries that lessen impacts on the environment.

use fundamental knowledge about plant development, production efficiency, responses to environment, and interactions with other organisms to identify potential genetic sources of improvement for introduction into crops (including introduction by genetic engineering).

During FY 2005, ARS will

partner with appropriate companies to ensure diagnostic and control methodologies are provided to agriculture commodity groups which would benefit from that technology.

produce research data for clearances of pest control products on minor food and ornamental crops.  The ARS Minor Use Pesticide Program will cooperate in these efforts with the CSREES IR-4 program and their State partners, providing growers of minor crops with more effective pest management agents that have a minimal impact on the environment and meet the more stringent safety requirements of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.  ARS will concentrate its efforts on the newer reduced risk chemistries that lessen impacts on the environment.

use fundamental knowledge about plant development, production efficiency, responses to environment, and interactions with other organisms to identify potential genetic sources of improvement for introduction into crops (including introduction by genetic engineering).

OBJECTIVE 2.2:  Safe food:  “Maintain an adequate, nutritious, and safe supply of food to meet human nutritional needs and requirements.”

STRATEGY 2.2.1:  Plant and animal product safety:  Provide knowledge and means for production, storage, and processing of safe plant and animal products.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 2.2.1.1:  Transfer knowledge developed by ARS to industry and regulatory agencies.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

elucidate the ecology and epidemiology of pathogens on food producing animals, animal products, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and within the processing environment.  The necessary data to carry out risk assessment will be provided.  Critical control points will be identified and parameters of existing critical control points that lead to the design of control or intervention strategies will be validated to lower the presence of pathogens.  Predictive models will also be developed and validated.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  No information concerning prevalence of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) contamination of beef carcasses had been reported in the United States.  ARS scientists at the Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Nebraska, sampled carcasses from beef processing plants in the United States, and the prevalence and virulence characteristics of non-O157 STEC strains contaminating beef carcasses were determined. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This is the first comprehensive study of non-O157 STEC carcass contamination in the United States and will provide the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and producers with information to be used in establishing baseline prevalence levels.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Chickens from campylobacter-free flocks were tested for the presence of the organism after being transported in crates that had previously been used for campylobacter positive birds.  It was discovered that the presence of campylobacter in a transport dump coop from the feces of a campylobacter positive flock can contaminate the outer surfaces of the next flock.  The resulting contamination can remain on previously negative broiler carcasses through the killing, scalding, and defeathering processes, thus bringing campylobacter into the processing facility.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Inadequately cleaned and/or sanitized transportation coops can be considered as a critical control point for reduction of pathogens on poultry and a means of introduction into processing plants. Different coop design, or better cleaning methods for existing transportation coops need to be considered.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Through participation in the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) Swine Study in collaboration with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, ARS scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, determined the prevalence of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica and of STEC in swine in the United States.  To accomplish the study, methods for processing swine feces and detection, isolation, and characterization of Y. enterocolitica and STEC were developed.  Results indicated that swine can harbor pathogenic Y. enterocolitica and are a potential reservoir for many serotypes of STEC strains that may cause human illness.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The results of the prevalence of Y. enterocolitica in U.S. market weight hogs were included in a report to the National Pork Board.  The information generated from the study is useful for identifying on-farm management and processing practices leading to carriage of the pathogens by swine, and ultimately leading to reduction in Y. enterocolitica and STEC transmission from pork to humans. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Contamination of ground beef by E. coli O157:H7 is a critical issue for regulatory-action agencies, industry, and consumers.  In order to more fully assess the risk for contamination, ARS scientists at ERRC developed mathematical models to estimate the effects of grinding processes on the distribution of E. coli O157:H7.  Beef trim contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 was processed similarly to that done by industry to produce a ground product.  The research showed that there were defined distribution patterns at different levels of contamination, and that the pathogen accumulates and resides in selected components of the grinder.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results will greatly assist in reducing the uncertainty of how beef is contaminated in the grinding process.  Furthermore, the findings will aid processors and regulatory agencies in risk assessment, and in the design of HACCP system for both large and small processors.  Additionally, they will provide assistance in designing improved sanitation and microbiological sampling procedures. Ultimately, this will benefit consumers by providing a safer product.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Broiler carcasses contaminated with feces must be detected with an imaging system capable of operating at processing-line speeds.  ARS scientists at the Richard Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia, in association with industry developed a real-time, portable multispectral imaging system that can capture carcass images to detect contamination at a rate of 140 birds per minute.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  FSIS has a zero-tolerance regulation for feces on poultry carcasses prior to the carcass entering the ice/water immersion chiller.  Development of this ARS system will aid inspectors to determine the absence or presence of fecal contamination on carcasses and it will aid industry to meet the zero tolerance standard for visible fecal material.  This will ultimately provide the consumer with a microbiologically safer product with longer shelf life.

identify the sites and mechanisms of pathogen colonization in animals, identify and characterize virulence attributes which play a role in the host-pathogen relationship, and develop intervention strategies which reduce colonization and shedding of pathogens by animals used for food.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The pathogen of greatest concern to the safety of animal-based foods is E. coli O157:H7, which is primarily a problem of beef cattle.  ARS scientists in Clay Center, Nebraska, demonstrated that the hide surface and the oral cavity of finished beef feedlot cattle usually have a higher E. coli O157:H7 prevalence than do bovine feces. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This finding can help explain several recent outbreaks of this pathogen in children following farm tours and visits to county fairs, and opens up additional sites for researchers to easily obtain samples for microbiological identification of the pathogen.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An ARS laboratory in College Station, Texas, developed workable protocols for administration and evaluation of a new pathogen control compound for beef and dairy cattle prior to slaughter.  Specially formulated sodium chlorate preparations administered in feed and/or drinking water a few days prior to slaughter selectively killed pathogenic E. coli and salmonella in the animal’s gut, reduced hide and carcass contamination with these pathogens, and had no negative effects on final product quality.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This will provide a practical, efficacious, cost-effective and commercially viable product that significantly enhances the microbiological safety of beef food products.  Further study to receive Food and Drug Administration approval will be necessary.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  To assess the potential for cattle and aquatic mammals to serve as reservoirs of pathogenic microsporidia parasites, ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, developed diagnostic assays and tested cattle fecal samples from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida, and aquatic wildlife fecal samples from around the Chesapeake Bay.  Several species of microsporidia were identified in cattle in three of the four States.  The same microsporidia was also identified in fecal samples collected from muskrat, beaver, otter, raccoon, and fox. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This is the first finding of the organism in cattle of North America and in wildlife worldwide, and it identifies these animals as potential sources of an emerging human pathogen, thus providing direction for further research to protect the food supply.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The acquisition of antibiotic resistance and/or enhanced virulence by bacterial pathogens is a threat to human health and methods are needed to mitigate this resistance.  Using a novel genetic system and high-throughput screening assays, an ARS laboratory in Ames, Iowa, identified six salmonella proteins that are essential for growth, virulence, or antibiotic resistance.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Identifying specific proteins and their functions will provide research directions to understand antibiotic resistance and prevent its spread and acquisition by other bacteria.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Accurate classification of bacterial pathogens is necessary to trace their movement through natural and manmade environments.  The current classification and identification scheme for Enterococcus, based on phenotypic analysis, is both tedious and laborious, requiring at least 24 hours.  ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, developed a DNA-based assay that will identify the genus and species for19 of 25 Enterococcus strains that have been isolated and classified.  The entire process is cost-effective, rapid, and accurate, and requires approximately three and one half hours.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This classification process will help establish a firm basis for antibiotic use recommendation to decrease pathogen resistance to drugs.

develop methods to assure that pathogens and chemical contaminants from animal manure do not pose a food safety hazard.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In water-scarce areas the potential for bacterial regrowth in reclaimed water used for crop irrigation must be understood.  ARS scientists in Phoenix, Arizona, assessed the survival and regrowth potential of bacteria present in treated effluent used for crop irrigation and surface water discharge as it passed through a model laboratory distribution system.  Total bacteria increased three- to four-fold orders of magnitude, and that E. coli remained viable during the 11-day experiment.  

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research has established that although the reclaimed water met Environmental Protection Agency standards for irrigation at the treatment plant, there is great potential for bacterial regrowth during transport, making the water out of compliance at the point of intended use and capable of spreading pathogens.  This information will provide the basis for further study and help prevent future problems of food contamination via wastewater irrigation.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The endogenous hormones, estradiol and testosterone, which are produced by all animals, are found in animal manure, particularly from concentrated animal feeding operations, and may pose a threat to human health through contamination of surface and ground waters.  ARS scientists in Fargo, North Dakota, determined the degradation rate of these hormones during composting of manure.  Initial concentrations of testosterone and estradiol in chicken manure averaged 212 and 92 parts per billion (ppb), respectively, but dropped gradually over 129 weeks to 13 ppb for testosterone and 16 ppb for estradiol.  The rate of degradation of testosterone was three times that of estradiol. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research demonstrates that composting may be an environmentally friendly technology suitable for reducing the amounts of endogenous hormones at concentrated animal operation facilities, thus preventing their transport into surface or groundwater systems that could be a source of drinking water.

develop sampling plans and methods that have regulatory, industry, and research use for the isolation, identification, and quantification of pathogens.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A method to characterize and type the bacterial pathogen listeria from foods is critically important for regulatory-action agencies and industry.  ARS scientists at the Western Regional Research Center developed an accurate, rapid, reproducible, cost effective method for typing L. monocytogenes strains using commercially prepared components, with a sensitivity level 1,000-fold better than currently used.  The method was tested on over 100 reference and unknown strains, and proved highly accurate.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new method will have a significant impact on the ability of industry and regulatory agencies’ ability to rapidly detect and characterize listeria monoctyogenes from food products.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Shellfish are common sources of food-borne viral illnesses.  ARS scientists at the Center of Excellence in Aquaculture, Delaware State University, developed a new virus extraction procedure for isolation and detection of both hepatitis A and Norwalk-like viruses.  The methods were successfully used and validated by assisting the FDA to detect viruses in a food-implicated outbreak of illness that occurred. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new procedure has been readily accepted by regulatory agencies.  The FDA sponsored a number of VirusNet Workshops designed to discuss the implementation of virus testing among State health departments.  A training CD entitled “Method to Extract Enteric Virus RNA from Shellfish” was developed.

develop pathogen intervention strategies to assist regulatory agencies in establishing the basis for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system  programs, aid both the large and small processors in carrying out good practices, and decrease the potential for introduction of zoonotic pathogens into processing environments.  The effects of intervention strategies to reduce pathogens on food and antimicrobial resistance will be determined.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A large number of viruses can cause sickness and/or death of consumers who eat raw or lightly cooked molluscan shellfish.  ARS scientists in the Center of Excellence in Aquaculture at Delaware State University showed that hepatitis A virus and Caliciviruses (Norwalk-like viruses) in oysters could be killed using high pressure processing techniques.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This technology could readily and easily be implemented by industry to provide consumers with a safe product that could be eaten raw.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The number of recalled ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs, due to contamination by listeria has dramatically increased during the past few years.  ARS scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, in association with industry, conducted a study to assess the prevalence of listeria monocytogenes in commercially produced, vacuum-sealed packages of hot dogs.  The study showed that 1.6 percent of the 33,000 sampled packages tested statistically positive for the pathogen.  There was no appreciable difference in recovery rate of the pathogen due to time or storage at either 4 or 10 degrees C, the latter being the temperature of most household refrigerators.  Seasonality of manufacture, for example, summer versus winter, also had no influence.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This baseline data on prevalence was critical for industry and regulatory-action agencies in developing guidelines for setting a safe shelf life for hot dogs relative to the risk of listeriosis, and/or for recommending conditions for heating hot dogs prior to consumption by consumers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Fresh produce has been implicated in an increasing number of major foodborne illness outbreaks during the past few years.  This has led FDA to recommend that customs officials halt the import of certain fruits and vegetables into the United States.  ARS scientists at the ERRC investigated why pathogen contamination persists on certain produce.  Studies of various pathogens demonstrated that some bacteria such as salmonella, due to their outer chemical structure, attached more firmly to the outside (rind) making them more resistant to treatment with sanitizers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings assist in explaining why certain bacteria, for example salmonella, are often associated with foodborne illness due to the consumption of fresh produce.  The outcome is that more effective means of either detaching or killing the attached bacterial pathogens are required to help ensure the safety of some produce for the consumer. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Contaminated fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts present a high risk to public health because they are often consumed without further preparation.  ARS scientists at the Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California, in collaboration with industry developed a method using chlorine dioxide gas to reduce bacterial pathogens on produce, such as strawberries and almonds, without adversely affecting the desirable marketing properties, and to extend cold storage life by controlling mold growth.  Chlorine dioxide gas was also demonstrated to reduce pests in soil, such as nematodes, fungi and weeds that are detrimental to plants, and could be a potential alternative for methyl bromide, a widely used soil fumigant that is being phased out because it depletes the ozone layer. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The studies have the potential to significantly impact the produce industry, and the environment.  Already, the Almond Board of California is evaluating the technology to disinfect almonds produced within that State, which have been implicated in several major outbreaks of salmonella associated food-borne illness.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Development of successful intervention strategies are urgently needed in order to reduce the level of bacterial pathogens associated with poultry products.  ARS scientists at the Richard Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia, in association with industry and commercial partners evaluated a new Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) compound that can significantly reduce salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli pathogens on broiler carcasses.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Due in large part to the ARS research, the GRAS-compound has been approved by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).  FSIS has approved the products use as an in-plant, pre-chill treatment.  Ongoing commercial studies should confirm that this product would allow delivery of a microbiologically safer product with an increased shelf life and less environmental impact.

develop methods to control mycotoxins produced by Fusarium Aspergillus fungi in food crops.  Methods to detect, quantitate, sample and/or separate toxin containing commodities will be developed.  Methods to control insect vectors utilizing biocontrol fungi, and/or optimization of production practices will also be developed.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Contamination of tree nuts by aflatoxins produced from infection by the fungus Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus is a serious problem because of the stringent regulatory levels imposed for these toxins, and the potential threat to human health.  ARS scientists in Albany, California, demonstrated that the sources of the high aflatoxin resistance of the seed coat pellicle of the Tulare variety of walnut is a series of complex, structurally related polar compounds of which gallic acid is a major component.  ARS scientists demonstrated that gallic acid is a potent inhibitor of aflatoxin synthesis when the fungus is exposed to these compounds. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Measurement of gallic acid levels in various tree nuts will provide a means of assessing the aflatoxin resistance of individual varieties that will result in lesser amounts of aflatoxin in tree nuts and greater protection of the public health.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The occurrence of aflatoxin severely limits the value of cottonseed, an economically important by-products of cotton production in Texas.  An ARS scientist in New Orleans, Louisiana, identified the importance of the second (post maturity) phase of aflatoxin contamination of cottonseed that occurs when exposure of mature bolls to high humidity, temperature, and rainfall stimulates crop invasion by aflatoxin producing fungi.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Recognition of these key features may make possible identification of predisposing environmental and agronomic factors and, as a result, improved management recommendations can be made to prevent the occurrence of aflatoxin.  This will increase the safety of cottonseed in human and animal food and increase the returns to growers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Aflatoxins produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus can infect crops, such as corn, cotton, peanuts and tree nuts causing a potential food safety hazard and lowering their economic value.  ARS scientists in New Orleans prepared a cloned genetic library of the aflatoxigenic fungus.  The DNA of each these clones was sequenced in collaboration with The Institute for Genomics Research (TIGR) to identify unique genes that the fungus uses to accomplish all of its biological and physiological functions.  These scientists have also begun to profile all the genes that are functional and active during both fungal invasion of the crops and aflatoxin formation.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information will provide the basis for understanding how aflatoxin is formed in crops and deciphering how environmental factors affect the fungus, and it will help to devise effective and lasting strategies to modulate or control aflatoxin formation.

determine the absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion, and elimination properties of drugs and environmental contaminants in food producing animals.  Screening and confirmatory methods to detect and quantify drug and contaminant residues will be developed.  Strategies for reducing the occurrence of residues will be devised.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, developed a new quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe method (acronym QuEChERS [pronounced “catchers”]) for the purification, detection and quantification of chemicals, especially pesticide residues.  The new method provides high quality results for a wide range of compounds.  Using the method, a single technician can prepare 12 samples in less than 30 minutes using a single piece of reusable glassware at a cost of $10.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Industry as well as regulatory-action agencies in the United States and worldwide, need improved and highly cost-effective methods to detect chemical compounds in agricultural commodities.  This new technology will have a significant national and international impact on monitoring the food supply for harmful and illegal contaminants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The supercritical laboratory in the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Illinois, has made a major contribution in the area of chemical and antibiotic residue, isolation, purification and quantitation.  Two natural chemicals, carbon dioxide and water, along with small quantities of organic solvents, are used to extract analytes (pesticides, nutrients, and veterinary drugs).  This method was the first instrumental method for the isolation and quantitation of the banned antibiotic avoparcin, and the pesticide triazine.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reduction or total elimination of the use of objectionable organic solvents in the laboratory environment is currently desired by regulatory agencies and industry.  Aside from the environmental benefit and help in ensuring a safe food supply for consumers, eliminating the use of the solvents and chemicals would substantially reduce the costs and difficulties associated with the disposal of such substances.  Furthermore, laboratory personnel would be protected from exposure to the toxic, flammable chemicals.

develop knowledge and technology to prevent weight loss or decreased gains, reproductive performance, or other toxic effects in food producing livestock from grazing plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Grazing of ponderosa pine needles causes abortion/premature parturition, retained placentas and endometritis in pregnant cattle, resulting in substantial economic losses to cattle producers in the Western United States.  ARS scientists at Logan, Utah, developed rapid tests (ELISAs) for isocupressic acid (ICA) and its metabolites using polyclonal antibodies.  Similarly, assays were developed to detect and measure two significant teratogenic steroidal alkaloids in veratrum plant species, as well as the photosensitivity agent, phylloerythrin.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These assays for rapidly screening biological samples for the presence of these toxins will help speed further research to find the ultimate cause of both reproductive failures and photosensitivity, and/or will ultimately aid ranchers in identifying areas to avoid grazing by susceptible animals.

determine whether there is an association of transport stress with shedding of microorganisms that are of food safety significance.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The threat of a reservoir of pathogens is compounded when animals are shipped to slaughter because the stress of handling and transportation increases the shedding of the pathogens.  ARS scientists in West Lafayette, Indiana, developed a stress model of transportation and created the ability to induce swine to shed the pathogen, salmonella, under controlled laboratory conditions.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information will aid in identifying characteristics of individual animals that shed pathogens in order to compare them with infected, but non-shedding herd mates.  Understanding these critical differences in individual animals will pave the way for interventions to be developed that will decrease pathogen shedding and thus help to ensure food safety.

develop sampling plans and methods that have both regulatory, industry, and research use for the isolation, identification, and quantification of pathogens.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A method to characterize and type the bacterial pathogen listeria from foods is critically important for regulatory-action agencies and industry.  ARS scientists at the Western Regional Research Center developed an accurate, rapid, reproducible, cost-effective method for typing L. monocytogenes strains using commercially prepared components at a sensitivity level 1,000-fold better than currently used.  The method was tested on more than 100 reference and unknown strains and proved highly accurate.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new method will have a significant impact on industry and regulatory agencies’ ability to rapidly detect and characterize listeria monoctyogenes in food products.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Shellfish are common sources of foodborne viral illnesses.  ARS scientists at the Center of Excellence in Aquaculture, Delaware State University developed a new virus extraction procedure for the isolation and detection of both hepatitis A and Norwalk-like viruses.  The methods were successfully used and validated by assisting the Food and Drug Administration to detect viruses in a food implicated in an outbreak of illness. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new procedure has been readily accepted by regulatory agencies.  The FDA sponsored a number of VirusNet Workshops designed to discuss the implementation of virus testing methods by State Health Departments.  A training CD entitled, “Method to Extract Enteric Virus RNA from Shellfish,” was developed.

During FY 2003, ARS will

acquire cultures of important foodborne pathogens to further enhance the capabilities and resources of ARS’ microbial culture collection.

develop the national parasite collection as a primary genomics information resource.

determine the rates and extent of pathogen contamination in bivalve shellfish, and develop decontamination methods. 

determine which protozoa allow intracellular growth/survival of pathogens and whether they destroy environmental pathogens including those in biofilms.

determine the key risk factors of human pathogens in foods of animal origin.  Evaluate the impact of interventions and develop predictive user-friendly models to assist industry and regulatory agencies in making critical food safety decisions that impact public health.

develop advanced techniques for the analysis of drug residues in foods; imaging and related technologies for the identification of surface contamination; and practical, economical, reliable, automated, real time, machine visioning systems for the online detection of surface contamination of animal carcasses during slaughter that will assure food safety.

determine the microbial ecology and transmission of human pathogens during poultry processing, and identify the critical control points to reduce carcass contamination.

sequence genome regions of pathogens affecting animal health and food safety for subsequent development of diagnostic tests, intervention strategies, and therapeutic agents.  Develop bioinformatics tools to process, analyze, and interpret sequencing and mapping information.

identify and quantify sources of pathogens affecting food producing animals; determine any environmental influences, including seasonality and geography, and other animals and insects; and identify sites and mechanisms of colonization in animals/mechanisms of virulence.

develop intervention strategies which reduce colonization and shedding of pathogens in animals used for food including vaccines/competitive colonization/alleviation of stress/altered management practices.

determine how food safety is affected by manure handling practices and utilization.

determine how antimicrobial resistance is acquired/transmitted/maintained in food producing animals in order to develop technologies/altered management strategies to control its occurrence.

develop information technologies to help control mycotoxins of fungal origin in crops and their food products, including competitive exclusion,  genetic markers, and more rapid methods of identification of  crop-effective sorting technologies.

develop information/technologies to help control toxins of plant origin in feeds and food products.

During FY 2004, ARS will

determine the rates and extent of pathogen contamination in bivalve shellfish, and develop decontamination methods.

determine which protozoa allow intracellular growth/survival of pathogens and under what circumstances, and determine whether they destroy environmental pathogens including those in biofilms.

determine the key risk factors of human pathogens in foods of animal origin.  Evaluate interventions for their impact, and develop predictive user-friendly models to assist industry and regulatory agencies in making critical food safety decisions that impact public health.

develop advanced techniques for the analysis of drug residues in foods; imaging and related technologies for the identification of surface contamination; and practical, economical, reliable, automated, real time, machine visioning systems for the online detection of surface contamination of animal carcasses during slaughter that will assure food safety.

determine the microbial ecology and transmission of human pathogens during poultry processing, and identify the critical control points to reduce carcass contamination.

sequence genome regions of pathogens affecting animal health and food safety for subsequent development of diagnostic tests, intervention strategies, and therapeutic agents.  Develop bioinformatics tools to process, analyze, and interpret sequencing and mapping information.

identify and quantify sources of pathogens affecting food producing animals; determine any environmental influences, including seasonality and geography, and other animals and insects; and identify sites and mechanisms of colonization in animals/mechanisms of virulence.

develop intervention strategies which reduce colonization and shedding of pathogens in animals used for food including vaccines/competitive colonization/alleviation of stress/altered management practices.

determine how food safety is affected by manure handling practices and utilization.

determine how antimicrobial resistance is acquired/transmitted/maintained in food producing animals in order to develop technologies/altered management strategies to control its occurrence.

develop information technologies to help control mycotoxins of fungal origin in crops and their food products, including competitive exclusion, genetic markers, and more rapid methods of identification of  crop-effective sorting technologies.

develop information/technologies to help control toxins of plant origin in feeds and food products.

acquire cultures of important foodborne pathogens to further enhance the capabilities and resources of ARS’ microbial culture collection.

develop the national parasite collection as a primary genomics information resource.

determine factors affecting disease spread and development in the United States for risk assessment.

During FY 2005, ARS will

determine the rates and extent of pathogen contamination in bivalve shellfish, and develop decontamination methods. 

determine which protozoa allow intracellular growth/survival of pathogens and under what circumstances, and determine whether they destroy environmental pathogens including those in biofilms.

determine the key risk factors of human pathogens in foods of animal origin.  Evaluate interventions for their impact, and develop predictive user-friendly models to assist industry and regulatory agencies in making critical food safety decisions that impact public health.

develop advanced techniques for the analysis of drug residues in foods; imaging and related technologies for the identification of surface contamination; and practical, economical, reliable, automated, real time, machine visioning systems for the online detection of surface  contamination of animal carcasses during slaughter that will assure food safety.

determine the microbial ecology and transmission of human pathogens during poultry processing, and identify the critical control points to reduce carcass contamination.

sequence genome regions of pathogens affecting animal health and food safety for subsequent development of diagnostic tests, intervention strategies, and therapeutic agents.  Develop bioinformatics tools to process, analyze, and interpret sequencing and mapping information.

identify and quantify sources of pathogens affecting food producing animals; determine any environmental influences, including seasonality and geography, and other animals and insects; and identify sites and mechanisms of colonization in animals/mechanisms of virulence.

develop intervention strategies which reduce colonization and shedding of pathogens in animals used for food including vaccines/competitive colonization/alleviation of stress/altered management practices.

determine how food safety is affected by manure handling practices and utilization.

determine how antimicrobial resistance is acquired/transmitted/maintained in food producing animals in order to develop technologies/altered management strategies to control its occurrence.

develop information technologies to help control mycotoxins of fungal origin in crops and their food products, including competitive exclusion, genetic markers, and more rapid methods of identification of  crop-effective sorting technologies.

develop information/technologies to help control toxins of plant origin in feeds and food products.

acquire cultures of important foodborne pathogens to further enhance the capabilities and resources of ARS’ microbial culture collection.

develop the national parasite collection as a primary genomics information resource.

determine factors affecting disease spread and development in the United States for risk assessment.


Goal III

GOAL III:  To Promote a Healthy Population Through Improved Nutrition.

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

     FY 2003

     FY 2004

    Soil, Water & Air Sciences

                0

                 0

               0 

    Plant Sciences

                0

                 0

               0

    Animal Sciences

                0

                 0

               0

    Commodity Conversion & Delivery

                0

                 0

               0

    Human Nutrition

       74,936

        78,253

      80,832

    Integration of Agricultural Systems

                0

                 0

               0

               Total

     $74,936

      $78,253

    $80,832

    FTEs

288

 288

  288

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results in FY 2002:  This goal is the focus of much of ARS’ research related to human nutrition and health.  Under Goal III, 8 Indicators are aligned under 3 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 8 Indicators were completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Seventeen significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 3.1:  Nutritious food:  “Maintain an adequate, nutritious, and safe supply of food to meet human nutritional needs and requirements.”

STRATEGY 3.1.1:  Human nutrition requirements:  Determine requirements for nutrients and other food components of children, pregnant and lactating women, adults, and elderly of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.1.1:  Indicators of function determined and related to diet and health.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

identify sensitive biomarkers that can be used as indicators of status.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies in Boston, Massachusetts, showed that elevated plasma homocysteine in cognitively normal elderly individuals at baseline greatly increased the risk of cognitive decline and dementia at follow-up 8 years later, and twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in a 10-12 year follow-up study.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Homocysteine levels can be reduced through B vitamin supplementation, which might also reduce the associated risk of cognitive disease.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Davis, California, have demonstrated a link between iron status and cognitive function in adults, i.e., hemoglobin status may be a modulator of one’s ability to concentrate.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research provides new and important knowledge on performance and nutritional consequences of iron restriction and is of particular scientific importance because iron deficiency anemia is the most prevalent nutritional disorder in the world for women of childbearing age.  The Bakan Vigilance cognitive test, used to assess the ability to concentrate, may perhaps be a new, noninvasive, functional indicator of developing iron insufficiency.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Boston, Massachusetts, recently reported on a newly discovered iron transporter (IREG1 or ferroportin) responsible for iron export from the intestine that is regulated by cellular iron status. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This finding coupled with previous observations that iron also regulates the expression of the iron influx transporter called DMT1, suggests that these transporter genes are regulated in a parallel fashion to control intestinal iron absorption.  Since iron stores are regulated primarily by the level of intestinal iron absorption, a greater understanding of the molecular mechanism of iron transport in the enterocyte may help to identify persons at risk of iron deficiency and iron overload.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the University of Maryland’s Aging Program, have recently discovered that perilipin expression is altered in fat cells from obese humans, and that perilipin may be critical in regulating lipolysis.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Since regulation of fat metabolism is integral to understanding the development of obesity, this information has important implications for the development of obesity and helps to explain why obese individuals have an increased risk for developing medical complications such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

develop a better understanding of the nutrient needs of infants and children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, found that osmolality, feeding volume, and nutrient density all affect the rate of gastric emptying and appear to play an equal role in the feeding intolerance encountered by preterm infants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings will be used to optimize the composition of formula and feeding protocols for preterm infants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, have established contemporary reference standards for body composition (fat, bone, muscle, water) for European-, African-, and Mexican-American children.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These standards demonstrated that anthropometric indices used to classify overweight and obese children are not reliable.  Accurate identification of children with high risk for adult obesity is possible, so that appropriate diet/physical activity interventions can be efficiently targeted.  A reference standard is needed to accurately define obesity in children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A better understanding of the metabolic processes related to obesity is needed.  Researchers in Houston, Texas, observed that female and male mice exhibited markedly different immunological and inflammatory activity in fat cell and liver tissue.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This is the first observation of what appears to be a hitherto unknown obesity induced gender difference related to body fat and immunity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers in Houston, Texas, found that chronic exposure to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) was able to inhibit the formation of mature fat cells by suppressing the transcription factor ADD1.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings provide a cellular basis that explains how feeding CLA may reduce body fat mass in animals and humans.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify genetic markers that can be used as indicators of nutritional status.

develop a better understanding of how nutrients influence the gut immune system.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop a better understanding of the nutrient needs of the elderly.

evaluate the role of mineral nutrition in prevention of colon cancer.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a better understanding of the multifaceted factors involved in regulation of body weight.

develop a better understanding of the factors influencing bioavailability of nutrients.

STRATEGY 3.1.2:  Food composition and consumption:  Develop techniques for determining food composition, maintain national food composition databases, monitor the food and nutrient consumption of the U.S. population, and develop and transfer effective nutrition intervention strategies.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.2.1:  Transfer new measurement techniques and data to users and release results of surveys.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

obtain data from a fully merged dietary intake survey.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  USDA/ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, successfully implemented the new USDA Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM) dietary intake instrument and related systems in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  This is a landmark milestone in dietary survey integration, combining the survey activities of USDA’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals with those of the Department of Health and Human Services NHANES to form the integrated survey entitled “What We Eat in America, NHANES 2002.”  A sample of 5,000 individuals was interviewed in 2002, with day 1 of dietary intakes being collected in person and day 2 collected by telephone.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The data collected from this survey have applications in national policy formation, regulation, program planning and evaluation, development of dietary guidance, and nutrition research.

update the national nutrient database and release the latest standard reference.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Release 15 of the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR15) was made available.  SR15 is the major product of the National Nutrient Databank System, which is available on the Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, Web site (www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp) and on CD-ROM.  SR15 provides estimates of composition for up to 80 components and approximately 6,200 foods and provides new database information for folic acid and vitamin A expressed according to new recommendations by the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Food Composition data developed by the Nutrient data laboratory are the foundation of virtually all public and commercial nutrient databases used in the United States and a number of foreign countries.  Ongoing periodic updates of the Standard Reference Database provide data that is accurate, current, and representative of the changing food supply.  New data are transferred to users.

identify positive dietary behavior that can be used to effectively intervene in young children to improve nutritional status.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies were conducted in Little Rock, Arkansas, looking at brain function (electrophysiologically) and behavior of children aged 8-11 to test skills important in learning, cognitive function, and attention.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies suggest that children who eat breakfast are more attentive and commit fewer errors compared with those who skip breakfast.  Additional major studies using electrophysiological testing found that Failure to Thrive (FTT) children were significantly inferior to controls in cognitive measures of school performance, language, and intelligence.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, have shown the beneficial effects of calcium fortification of breakfast foods and iron and zinc fortification of beverages.  These have proved to be a safe and effective method for adding bioavailable minerals to the diets of small children, and will help provide many of their critical nutritional needs.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research will allow for clearer identification of the nutrient requirements of children as related to bioavailability.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify intervention strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by at-risk populations.

cooperate with the National Center for Health Sciences (NCHS) to obtain data from a fully merged dietary intake survey.  ARS will obtain survey data and begin to process information obtained from the single survey.

update the National Nutrition Database.

During FY 2004, ARS will

release 2001 and 2002 data obtained from the “What We Eat In America” dietary survey.

update the National Nutrient Database and release the latest Standard Reference.

During FY 2005, ARS will

release 2003 data obtained from the “What We Eat in America” dietary survey.

release of joint ARS-NIH dietary supplement database.

STRATEGY 3.1.3:  Nutritious plant and animal products:  Provide input to plant and animal scientists so that more nutritious plant and animal products for human consumption may be developed.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.3.1: Improved nutritional quality of animal and plant products.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

determine the bioavailability of minerals in plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Grand Forks, North Dakota, developed a method to extract Se from a plant source and determine the resulting form of Se by HPLC coupled to a mass spectrometer.  They have demonstrated that selenium in broccoli exists primarily in the form of Se-methyl selenocysteine, but that methyl selenol is the primary form of the element absorbed across the cell.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results help explain the observed high efficacy of Se from broccoli for preventing colon cancer.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies conducted in Grand Forks, North Dakota, showed that marginal nutritional deficiencies of Ca and Fe enhanced the absorption of cadmium by 6-fold and increased the body burden of cadmium by a similar amount.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies show that people who consume marginal amounts of essential trace elements may be more susceptible to cadmium toxicosis than those with adequate intakes of essential minerals.

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined, and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Beta-glucan content of barley and oats has proven nutritive value for reducing cholesterol and other heart-healthy benefits.  ARS scientists at Madison, Wisconsin, determined beta-glucan levels of the 2,665 barley accessions in the USDA National Small Grains Collections for beta-glucan content. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was entered into the ARS GRIN database for use by all barley researchers in developing new food and feed barley varieties with high beta-glucan content.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Color is a key component that influences consumer perceptions of quality in fresh and processed tomato products.  Carotenoids that impart color also enhance the nutritive value of ripe tomato fruit.  Beta-carotene and lycopene are the principal colored carotenoids in tomato fruit and are recognized for their retinoid and/or antioxidant properties.  Cherry tomato breeding lines rich in beta-carotene have been developed for use in the development of commercial cultivars.  Expression of the Beta gene in these lines results in orange fruit pigmentation due to the accumulation of high levels of beta-carotene at the expense of lycopene.  While analytical evaluations demonstrated that a number of quality parameters were similar between the two types of fruit, sensory analyses were conducted to assess real and perceived differences in fruit quality between the high beta-carotene cherry tomato lines and the conventional lycopene containing red cultivars.  Panelists preferred the appearance of the red cultivars when viewed under normal lighting, but scored many of the fruit quality attributes from red and orange genotypes similarly whether or not they could discern the color. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The results indicate a color bias for red-pigmented fruit and highlight the influence that color has on perception of tomato fruit quality, since, in a number of ways, red and orange tomato types scored similarly in nutritive and quality characteristics.  This information is valuable as plant breeders seek to provide the public with vegetables with the best health promoting profiles possible.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Weslaco, Texas, in cooperation with Texas A&M University, using known, available honeydew hybrids, demonstrated that three highly critical human-wellness compounds (vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium) were increased by as much as four-fold when harvesting specific ‘grade’ sizes of fruits grown on clay loam versus sandy loam (the traditionally used soil).  It was discovered that some hybrids are consistently highly concentrated in these compounds year after year.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research demonstrated that U.S. melon growers can improve the phytonutrient values of their crop by simply selecting a specific melon hybrid, growing it on clay loam, and producing large fruit; and that traditional breeding practices can further enhance the phytonutrient content of this crop.  Improving the phytonutrient content is important as a natural way to maintain the health of the U.S. population.

During FY 2003, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

During FY 2004, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

During FY 2005, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.


Goal IV

GOAL IV:  To Foster an Agricultural System That Protects Natural Resources and the Environment.

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

     FY 2003

     FY 2004

    Soil, Water & Air Sciences

       90,902

        97,708

       103,134

    Plant Sciences

       31,413

        33,856

         35,842

    Animal Sciences

         2,819

          3,058

           3,396

    Commodity Conversion & Delivery

         3,030

          3,188

           3,377

    Human Nutrition

               0

                0

                 0

    Integration of Agricultural Systems

       24,765

        30,188

         30,192

               Total      

   $152,929

     $167,998

      $175,941

    FTEs

         1,391

          1,450

           1,471

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results:  This goal is the focus of much of ARS’ research on a wide range of environmental issues related to agriculture.  Under Goal IV, 65 Indicators are aligned under 14 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 65 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Seventy-five significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 4.1:  Balance agriculture and the environment:  “Increase the long-term productivity of the United States agriculture and food industry, while maintaining and enhancing the natural resource base on which rural America and the United States agricultural economy depend.”

STRATEGY 4.1.1:  Natural resource quality:  Develop new concepts, technologies, and management practices that will enhance the quality, productivity, and sustainability of the Nation's soil, water, and air resources. 
 

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.1.1:  Demonstrate concepts and on-farm agricultural technologies and management practices that maintain and enhance the environment and natural resource base.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

report the estimates of atmospheric emissions of nitrous oxide, ammonia, and methane from land applications of chicken litter under conventional and minimum tillage.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from Watkinsville, Georgia, found that from 3 to 24 percent of nitrogen in surface applied poultry litter was lost to the atmosphere during winter and summer application, respectively.  These losses occurred within 7 to 8 days after application and were not influenced by tillage method (no-till or para-plowed), but were significantly reduced by precipitation that occurred just after manure application.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These data demonstrate that significant amounts of ammonia can be lost to the atmosphere immediately after surface application of manure during the summer.  Management practices to reduce these losses need to be developed and tested.

establish a strategic plan basis for formally implementing the Integrated Agricultural Systems National Program in Spring 2003.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A workshop has been scheduled for July 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Based on the findings, a plan will be developed to implement the Integrated Agricultural Systems National Program.

define nutrient requirements of the different life stages of shrimp for indoor and outdoor intensive production systems. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Progress was made on nutrient requirements of shrimp for magnesium, cholesterol, and protein.  Vitamin and minerals were found to be unnecessary for shrimp growth in outdoor systems.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was made available to feed manufacturers and shrimp producers at workshops.

determine the feasibility of using constructed wetlands for control of nutrients in aquacultural effluents.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute demonstrated that constructed wetlands control nutrients from aquaculture effluents when appropriately sized.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Research was published in journal articles and the technology is being used in large scale, inland water recirculation aquaculture systems.

determine the feasibility of using microbiological management to retain nitrogen in poultry litter and reduce ammonia in the house environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, have demonstrated that a significant portion of the urea nitrogen in manure can be retained when urease inhibitors (urease is an enzyme that converts urea in urine into ammonia) are topically applied to the manure.  Urease inhibitors conserve nitrogen in the manure, thus improving its fertilizer value while preventing ammonia release.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Based on these findings, a company is currently marketing a product, CONSERVE-N TM, which reduces ammonia and odor emission from livestock operations.

provide guidelines for arid areas on how to revegetate pipeline right-of-ways with native perennial seeds and  control invasive weeds.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Research completed at Cheyenne, Wyoming, has shown that cultural practices including soil management, mulching, and seeding rates affect the establishment of Wyoming Big Sage and control of invasive weed on right‑of‑ways and other disturbed lands.  The research revealed that: (1) seeding strategies had a much greater impact on revegetation success than topsoil management; (2) using either a stubble mulch or surface mulch improves establishment; (3) by increasing the sagebrush seeding rate to 2 to 3 kilogram per hector, instead of the recommended rate of 0.5 to 1 kilogram, the desired density of sagebrush plants was achieved on the disturbed lands; and (4) newly established plants protected from wildlife grazing had five times the seed stocks as those grazed by wildlife and, after 8 years, unprotected stands had a 59 percent stand survival rate when compared to the protected sites. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The recommendations from this research will help formulate rehabilitation strategies that will reduce cost and improve ecological sustainability.  Land managers now have more flexibility in soil management.  Despite the cost of higher seeding rates and other cultural practices, direct seeding of sagebrush costs less that 10 percent compared to using nursery-grown transplants.  Improved success in establishing native plants through better seedling establishment and protection from wildlife also helps limit the spread of invasive weeds.

conduct field tests of new technology for controlling livestock distribution on open rangeland without fences.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Jornada Experimental Range at Las Cruces, New Mexico, successfully conducted field tests of a device installed in livestock collars to control the movement of animals using sound and mild shock stimuli.  The device uses a combination of the Global Positioning Satellite System (GPS), Geographical Information System (GIS) technology and a receiver in the collars to guide the movement of livestock.  A computer program will allow shifting animal grazing patterns.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This new technology, when refined for reliability and economic operation, will provide an option for controlling animal movement on open rangelands without fences.  Eliminating fences will remove an intrusive element from land management, allow greater flexibility in altering grazing patterns, and reduce maintenance costs.

develop technologies of radar-based precipitation estimates to help guide decisions on integrated pest management (IPM) in crops and target precision application of agricultural chemicals to reduce adverse environmental impacts.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) long‑term precipitation forecasts are generally unsuitable for direct field application in making agricultural management and conservation decisions.  ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, developed a methodology to downscale the forecasts to be applicable at a field location and on a monthly or daily time scale.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This downscaled forecast can be used to predict future infestations of weeds and insects, indicate optimum timing for pesticide spraying with respect to predicted precipitation events, and indicate potential crop yields with or without the application of pesticides.

validate several major compounds of water quality models that will be widely used to improve the management of agricultural lands and enhance the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Temple, Texas; Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Ames, Iowa, have successfully enhanced and validated ARS decision support system tools (models) for improved water quality management.  These tools have been enhanced to address nutrient leaching from turfgrass operations and interspecies competition between native grasses and invading trees on rangelands and improved pastures and have added several more management operations than were previously available to allow users to better define the best management practices and improve water quality.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The improvements in the ALMANAC (Agricultural Land Management with Numerical Assessment Criteria) alternatives model will enable NRCS technical specialists to calculate the impact of ongoing drought conditions on forage production throughout Texas.  These specialists will be able to predict future impacts of drought on forage predictions based on projected climactic trends and actual observed weather.

demonstrate the utility of incorporating satellite-based remote sensing techniques for assessing soil water contents over large areas in technologies that producers, water resource managers, and agencies can use to effectively manage soil and water resources.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Sub-optimal moisture conditions are perhaps the most significant factor responsible for reducing yields in U.S. agriculture.  The ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, developed a soil moisture stress indicator that was highly correlated to yield.  This technique, combined with improved measurement technology being developed and tested by the laboratory using microwave and radar technology, will ultimately provide daily estimates of soil moisture to assist farmers in better managing their crops.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The algorithms developed by ARS scientists were adopted by NOAA, NASA, and the Japanese space agency and are being used to produce hydrologic products that are utilized by Federal agencies, university scientists, and potentially producers on a daily basis to make water use management decisions.

develop improved practices to control water from irrigation to help mitigate adverse effects on water quality and the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The quality of surface and groundwater is one of the factors considered with respect to analyzing water suitability for irrigation.  ARS scientists at Riverside, California, developed a computer model that enables site-specific assessment of irrigation management practices and water suitability for irrigation of agricultural crops.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The model is being widely distributed and used by the U.N. to evaluate water suitability for irrigated agriculture throughout the world.

develop methods to manage salts and toxic elements in irrigation waters to eliminate detrimental effects on soils and groundwater, and reduce impacts on crop productivity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Riverside, California, have identified several forage species that can be utilized along with suitable management of a saline drainage water reuse system to produce high quality forage for livestock feed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Although total forage growth may be reduced by the saline drainage water system, the quality and production of forage will support an acceptable rate of livestock growth and performance.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  High levels of toxic elements and salts in drainage waters used for irrigation have become a major constraint to sustained productivity in many irrigation projects in the Western United States.  ARS scientists from the U.S. Salinity Laboratory at Riverside, California, developed a computer model that can rapidly provide a site-specific assessment of water suitability for irrigation.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The model will be widely distributed and used throughout the world by the United Nations to evaluate water suitability for irrigation, and to develop criteria for reclamation of saline/sodic soils.

improve the understanding of and scientific basis for water conservation, droughts, and increased water use efficiency in agriculture, especially in times of water scarcity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was developed and validated against measured data and successfully transferred to the EPA.  The EPA has incorporated the SWAT model into their BASINS system model as a standard approach for estimating impacts of agriculture on water quantity and quality assessments.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Because of accuracy and ease of use, SWAT has been selected by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the decision support system to perform a national assessment of the environmental benefits derived from the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Improvement Program that was requested by the Office of Budget and Management.  The result of this new 5‑year effort will be the first comprehensive assessment of the benefits of best management practices in reducing nutrient and sediment loading in the Nation’s streams, lakes, and groundwater systems.

develop rapid methods to identify areas of saline soils and decision tools to remediate them.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, in Riverside, California, have developed a number of practical, field scale salinity assessment techniques based on rapid measurement of soil salinity using four direct contact electrode sensors and noninvasive electromagnetic sensors.  Prediction of salt loading at field scales and larger has been reliably ascertained using a geographic information system (GIS), spatial statistics, noninvasive mobile salinity measurement equipment, and a model for salt movement in soil.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This GIS-linked salt transport modeling approach provides a means of preparing regional scale maps showing predicted areas of salt accumulation in soil and drainage water.  NRCS and others can use the maps as an information tool to ameliorate the future detrimental impact of salinity on soil and water resources.

develop forage systems to effectively recycle manure nutrients, while protecting environmental quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from the Waste Management and Forage Research Laboratory at Mississippi State, Mississippi, have developed management practices for the application of poultry litter to bermudagrass that results in maximum forage production while minimizing the risk of surface water pollution by manure nutrients.  They found that the best time for manure application was one month after the start of active bermudagrass growth.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results will contribute to the development of best management practices for application of poultry litter to warm season grasses.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop precision irrigation practices that incorporate improved  water management strategies and remote sensing technologies into site specific management for the production of agronomic and high-value crops.

develop cultural and management practices for agriculture that maximize the return for irrigation water used. 

identify practices and technologies for agriculture to utilize waste and drainage water.

develop drainage and water management practices that enable crops to use shallow groundwater efficiently.  

identify and develop on‑farm and off‑farm management practices that enable producers to meet nutrient water quality standards and maintain economically viable production.

quantify the factors that control movement and availability of pesticides and other synthetic organic chemicals relative to their transport, degradation, and persistence in soil and aquatic environments.

evaluate the role of sediment in the transport, storage, and fate of nutrients and pesticides.

develop decision tools to determine the influence of soil compaction on crop productivity.

provide an improved decision support aid for assessing soil quality, and recommendations for improving soil management to enhance productivity and environmental quality.

recommend pasture weed control strategies that minimize pesticide impact on non-target species.

determine the viability of using a knifing/chiseling technique for incorporating poultry liter into bermudagrass sod to reduce losses of nitrogen and phosphorous, while promoting forage growth.

recommend grazing practices for pasture in karst landscapes (limestone regions) that minimize water quality degradation.

provide options for producing cool and warm season forage mixtures to buffer seasonal extremes in forage production.

recommend ways to enhance and manage plant biodiversity, and improve forage productivity and stability under stressful environments.

use forage plants to filter on‑farm water contaminated with nitrate to test the hypothesis that phytofiltration is an inexpensive way to clean up ground water supplies.

evaluate multi‑species grazing behavior and resultant effects on plant community composition in the management of perennial pepperweed infested meadows.

During FY 2004, ARS will

test the effect of the addition of selected microorganisms on shrimp growth and nutrient cycling in outdoor, intensive culture systems.

provide management recommendations to control bacterial gill disease on volunteer farms and assess their efficacy.

identify hot spots of atrazine and metolachlor for  estimating exposures of sensitive areas to atmospherically derived agrochemical residues.

develop recommendations for the effective use of riparian systems to prevent off-site movement of pesticide residues.

provide management guidelines on the timing and frequency of grazing sagebrush steppe vegetation that has been burned or otherwise disturbed.

develop and evaluate water conservation and management technologies for urban and recreational turf grass users that protect water quantity and quality.

develop and demonstrate the use of improved drainage management practices that reduce flood flows and nutrient losses to ground waters, streams, and rivers.

quantify the factors that control sources and movement of pathogens in terms of their transport and persistence in soil and their potential contamination of aquatic environments.

develop a treatment technology system for swine wastewater that can replace anaerobic lagoons.

develop and evaluate methods for rapid determination of soil carbon that may be used for determination of soil carbon sequestration.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop management practices to optimize nutrient availability at the time of maximum crop need.

demonstrate forage management practices and technologies that utilize and retain nutrients more effectively to reduce the pollution of surface and ground waters.

demonstrate new processes for producing and establishing native plant efficiency for rangeland ecosystem restoration and conservation.

demonstrate practices for managing invasive weeds, toxic plants, and other vegetation that result in sustainable ecosystem structure and function.

develop a pesticide properties database that can be linked to water quality fate and transport models for evaluating the effectiveness of riparian systems buffer strips to enhance the Nation’s water quality.

develop methodology and techniques (Best Management Practices) to minimize the export of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from farm fields in surface and subsurface runoff to improve the Nation’s water quality.

develop precision irrigation technologies and strategies that conserve water and improve water quality while maintaining crop production.

develop management practices that reduce emissions of odor causing volatile organic compounds from animal production operations.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.1.2:  Experimentally demonstrate the appropriateness of watershed-scale technologies and practices that protect the environment and natural resources.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

produce a methodology and model to estimate basin scale riparian corridor evapotranspiration in semi-arid regions to more accurately define the water requirements for maintaining ecologically critical riparian habitats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center and the EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory in Las Vegas, Nevada, developed and released the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment Tool (AGWA).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This PC‑based tool is a multi‑purpose software program that allows Federal, State, and local water management agencies to quickly and qualitatively assess the impacts of changes in land cover on regional runoff and soil erosion patterns.  This tool gives local and regional land use planners a quick and efficient methodology to assess potential downstream flooding consequences and the corresponding damage to property and regional infrastructure, if proposed land use changes occur.

evaluate basin scale simulation models for predicting patterns of snow deposition, soil moisture, and runoff.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completed the development and testing of a spatially distributed energy balance snow melt model (ISNOBAL) and snow cover simulation model that accurately accounts for wind redistribution effects of topography and vegetation canopies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Wind redistribution and drifting of snow are critical processes in the hydrology of the Western U.S. inter‑mountain region.  With improvements in the ability to predict snow pack depth and distribution as a function of wind direction and velocity, water management forecasters will have the ability to fine tune existing models to take advantage of new advances to improve their estimates of hydrologic and snow melt forecasting issues that are so important in the semi‑arid inter‑mountain Western region of the United States.

identify and verify Total Maximum Daily Loads for sediments and associated agricultural chemicals for selected streams and rivers, and assess the performance of appropriate Best Management Practices for reducing adverse impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Developed a methodology to increase survival of willow cuttings as an effective means of stabilizing stream banks and enhancing natural recovery of riparian habitats. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS scientists in Oxford, Mississippi, found that soaking willow cuttings for 10 days prior to planting dramatically improves the survival, growth rate, and biomass production of the saplings.  These findings may be used to improve the success rate of bio-technical erosion control projects and significantly reduce the costs associated with replanting.

develop a predictive tool to identify areas in a watershed most likely to contaminate surface waters with manure and fertilizer derived phosphorus.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from University Park, Pennsylvania, are working with researchers at other ARS locations, university cooperators, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop and refine the Phosphorus Index for identifying critical areas on a farm or in a watershed that are likely to pollute surface waters with phosphorus.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The NRCS field staff is using the Phosphorus Index in its work with producers to identify sensitive areas and target management alternatives to reduce the environmental risk of phosphorus loss.  Many States are using the Index to guide manure application decisions.

develop modeling procedures to assist in predicting when the Boise Front is susceptible to flood events so advanced warnings can be made.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Boise, Idaho, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Experiment Station, monitored the effects of wildfire and management practices on infiltration and erosion processes on study sites in forests and rangelands in Nevada, Washington, Montana, and Colorado.  Data from these studies has been used to develop hydrologic models on the potential for flooding and managing practices to mitigate the risk.  The models are now being validated.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Managers in areas prone to wildfire must be able to quickly identify areas at greatest risk of flooding, then apply appropriate mitigation measures to prevent wildfire, and if need be, restore the lands after fire.  Models that can aid in this process will reduce damage to life, property, and natural resource values.

improve understanding of the partitioning of precipitation into infiltration, evapotranspiration, soil water, runoff, and groundwater recharge components for water quality and quantity assessments within watersheds.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Tucson, Arizona, developed a rainfall distribution model that can distribute point rainfall data over a spatial area.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new model will enhance the Nation’s understanding of the impacts associated with large‑scale climatic events, such as El Nino, on precipitation amount and distribution that trigger devastating floods and drought across the country.  This model has the potential to improve estimates of hydrologic process, such as flooding, when linked with spatially explicit hydrologic models for a region.

provide improved design and analysis tools to economically maintain water resource management and flood control infrastructure.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Watershed Site Analysis (SITES) computer program was refined, updated, and made available to users throughout the United States on the NRCS’ Water and Climate Center Web site by ARS scientists in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  All of the documentation necessary to run the model for flood control design is available on the Web site.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Since the 1940’s, approximately 11,000 flood control structures have been designed and built using USDA technology.  The SITES model and associated documentation allows NRCS technicians and other interested parties to evaluate the risk of erosion from dam overtopping and the potential for dam failure, which is important for the protection of human life and property.

determine the effects of hydrological factors, riparian and wetland ecosystem management, and stream stabilization practices on stream corridor response.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARS scientists at Oxford, Mississippi, have developed a series of decision aids and hydrologic management tools (AGNPS – Agricultural Non‑Point Source, and CONCEPTS – Conservation Channel Evolution and Pollutant Transport System) for evaluating the effectiveness of conservation measures within a watershed to improve riparian and stream corridor response.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The AGNPS model has been transferred to the State Department of Environmental Quality officials in Kansas, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as a means of developing Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) estimates that each State is required to develop for compliance with regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The ARS models provide a uniform way of approaching the EPA rules to reduce confusion of farmers and ranchers about the requirements needed to implement TMDL guidelines across the nation.

During FY 2003, ARS will

quantify the effects of climate, soils, vegetation, watershed characteristics, and pollutant loading on the effectiveness of riparian areas and wetlands for improving water quality.

develop watershed models that determine the environmental and economic impacts of sediments and agricultural contaminants on surface and ground waters.

During FY 2004, ARS will

improve decision support tools that integrate climate and weather forecast information into agricultural production strategies and resource conservation planning at the watershed scale.

develop new instrumentation and apply new technologies for improved comprehensive watershed monitoring and characterization.

develop improved conservation practices to restore and manage stream corridors with emphasis on restoring the ecological integrity of riparian and wetland ecosystems.

transfer technology products such as fact sheets, a Web site, a library of applicable articles, both scientific and extension, related to the National Phosphorus Project.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop and validate basin scale watershed assessment decision support system tools that can be utilized by the Natural Resources Conservation System (NRCS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine the economic and environmental benefits of Best Management Practices in reducing nutrient and sediment loading of the Nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes.

develop watershed scale decision support systems to assist in quantifying the impact of fire on watershed water quality and quantity assessments.

demonstrate how improved drainage management systems can reduce nitrate-nitrogen runoff from agricultural fields, while improving the operation and effectiveness of riparian areas and wetlands.

STRATEGY 4.1.2:  Global change:  Increase understanding of the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to man made and natural changes in the global environment.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.1: Determine the extent to which management of croplands and grazinglands affects production and absorption of trace gases that may alter the global environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

estimate the current carbon stocks and potential for carbon sequestration in cropland and rangeland soils of the United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program that offers payments and assistance to help farmers establish long-term resource conserving covers on eligible cropland to improve soil, water, and wildlife resources.  Analyses of soil samples collected from paired plots across a 13-State region show that CRP lands sequester an average of 910 kilograms of carbon per hectare in the top 20 centimeters of soil each year.  This equates to 5.1 million metric tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere and sequestered into the soil each year in the 5.6 million hectares of land represented in the study. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This ARS analysis demonstrates that CRP lands are making a significant contribution to reducing the rate at which carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, where it likely contributes to global warming through the greenhouse effect.  Carbon sequestration on CRP lands is in addition to other environmental improvements for which the program is intended.  This information demonstrates a clear role for farmers and ranchers in providing multiple environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration, through voluntary conservation programs.

determine the influence of management practices on trace gas fluxes in pastures and rangelands.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Trace gases, such as methane and certain nitrogen containing gases, arise from soils, ruminant livestock, and animal wastes and increase the heat trapping ability of the atmosphere, possibly leading to global warming.  Although measurement of these gases in the field is difficult, ARS has developed new methods to measure and track them.  One technique, called Backward Lagrangian Stochastic Analysis, can show how trace gases arise from different parts of a farm and move downwind.  Another method, called the Modified Integrated Horizontal Flux technique, can measure gas emissions from animals under field conditions, animal waste processing facilities, and barns.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New methods for trace gas measurement and tracking developed by ARS can show where these greenhouse gases and odor causing compounds arise on farms and how they move at different times of the day.  The measurements can be made to provide improved estimates of the contributions of livestock to greenhouse gases without disturbing livestock in ways that might otherwise stress their digestive processes and influence their trace gas emissions.  The techniques can be applied to cropping and animal production systems to determine the effectiveness of management methods intended to reduce emissions of gases that contribute to odors and global warming.

develop an improved index for measuring oxidative stability of biodiesel fuels and analytical methods for tracking fuel quality of biodiesel during short- and long-term storage.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A kinetic model was developed to screen the stability of biodiesel from various lipid feedstocks with respect to exposure to air (oxidative degradation) during long-term storage.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These kinetic parameters allow simple and relatively rapid prediction of the oxidative stability, with time, of biodiesel samples under realistic storage conditions.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify cold flow property improvers that are effective and compatible as additives for biodiesel fuel.

provide data on the extent to which commonly used soil management systems across the United States remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in croplands and rangelands.

determine the impact of overgrazing on carbon cycling in a Southern Plains mixed grass prairie.

release a carbon sequestration model for field office use by the NRCS.

During FY 2004, ARS will

determine the relative influence of warm and cool season grasses on carbon sequestration and stabilization of soil structure.

determine the influence of soil and crop management on methane oxidation and nitrous oxide emissions under irrigated conditions.

develop germplasm and cultivars of grasses, legumes, and cereal grains that produce greater yields of biomass with improved quality for conversion to biofuel.

develop management practices for sustainable production of energy crops with increased carbon sequestration on conservation lands, including CRP lands and buffer strips.

increase the efficiency of biomass harvesting and handling systems, and establish methods for characterizing the quality of biomass as a biofuel feedstock.

During FY 2005, ARS will

compare carbon sequestration in soil under different land uses within a single watershed.

assess long-term (5 years) effects of grazing management on soil nitrogen cycling in shortgrass steppe plant communities.

develop germplasm and cultivars of grasses, legumes, and cereal grains that produce greater yields of biomass with improved quality for conversion to biofuel.

develop management practices for sustainable production of energy crops with increased carbon sequestration on conservation lands, including CRP lands and buffer strips.

increase the efficiency of biomass harvesting and handling systems and establish methods for characterizing the quality of biomass as a biofuel feedstock.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.2:  Determine how trace gases, climate changes, weather variability, and other environmental stressors impact agricultural ecosystems and water and nutrient availability for croplands and grazinglands.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will identify the impact of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide on nutritionally important chemicals in crop plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Environmental changes, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global warming, have some well-known effects on crop production.  ARS has demonstrated that the nutritional characteristics of food may also be altered.  Although increased carbon dioxide had little effect, the concentration of vitamin E in soybean seeds increased when plants were exposed to warming during the period when seeds were enlarging.  Much of the increase in vitamin E occurred in association with a temperature increase from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius, which is well within the range of temperatures in the field.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that scavenges unhealthy forms of oxygen that can accumulate from normal biochemical processes in the body’s tissues.  Subtle changes in vitamin E content and other chemicals in commodities grown in a changing environment may have implications for dietary recommendations.  Although ARS and others have done a considerable amount of research to show how crop production may be affected by global change, little attention has been devoted to examining whether the nutritional value of food may be affected.  This research demonstrates that crop quality needs to be investigated as well as crop quantity.

develop models for assessing the effects of global change on the availability of water for agricultural uses.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Land use change, land cover change, and other global change driving forces exert a powerful influence on runoff, water quality, and erosion in watersheds.  ARS scientists and their cooperators in the EPA developed the AGWA for providing quantitative estimates of runoff and erosion relative to land use change.  This tool and its full documentation, which were released at the Second Federal Interagency Hydrological Modeling Conference, can be downloaded at www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/agwa.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Global change is driven by many natural and human induced forces, including changes in how the land is vegetated and used.  Predicting how land use changes may alter the availability and quality of water for agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreational, and other uses is important for making sound land management decisions.  The AGWA Tool is a multipurpose hydrological analysis system that can be used by regional, State, and local agencies for performing watershed and basin-scale studies to examine how certain environmental changes may affect water supplies.

During FY 2003, ARS will

improve techniques and tools for generation of weather data at field scale to support planning and management in conservation programs.

provide regional, process model‑based estimates of the effects of various scenarios of rising carbon dioxide and changing climate on the productivities, water requirements, and carbon sequestration potentials of U.S. cotton.

provide a projection of the impacts of global change on the grasslands of the Great Plains.

provide public land management agencies and private land managers with an assessment of the impact of wildlife on surface hydrology and the erosion in steep rangeland watersheds.

analyze historical conditions of seedbed microclimate, and develop probability estimates for successful seedling establishment on disturbed rangelands in the Intermountain West.

During FY 2004, ARS will

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, natural resource agencies, and water policy decision makers to respond to water scarcity and drought through improved water management and conservation at the farm level to regional scales.

quantify  growth and pollen production by important weed species in response to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

develop new technologies that express the risk associated with seasonal forecasts in terms that can be used by the agricultural community.

cultural systems for mitigating and adapting to global climate change.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop regional estimates of the effects of various scenarios of rising carbon dioxide and changing climate on the productivity, water requirements, and carbon sequestration potentials of crops, based on physiological process plant growth models.

use computer models of water flow and plant growth with seasonal climate forecasts to determine the impact of particular forecasts on soil water dynamics and crop productivity.

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, and Federal and State natural resource and water management agencies to anticipate drought and respond to ongoing water scarcity and drought through improved water management practices.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.3:  Demonstrate techniques that can improve efficiency.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will

provide information on soil management and tillage techniques that conserve resources and improve productivity.

determine the value of prescribed burning as a tool for management of old world bluestem pastures.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop an assay that can be used to determine the bio-availability of phosphorus and other minerals in animal feed ingredients.  

develop practical recommendations for using multispectral crop coefficients for scheduling irrigation.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop an assay that can be used to determine the bio-availability of phosphorus and other minerals in animal feed ingredients.  

develop practical recommendations for using multispectral crop coefficients for scheduling irrigation.

STRATEGY 4.1.3:  Cropland and grazingland sustainability:  Develop cropland and grazingland management strategies that will improve quality, quantity, and sustainability of food and fiber products needed for U.S. competitiveness.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.3.1:  Demonstrate cropland and grazingland management strategies that improve productivity and efficiency of croplands and grazinglands. 

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop conservation management systems to increase productivity and profitability of eroded soils in the Southeastern United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Auburn, Alabama, have developed conservation management systems that increase soil water storage and availability of water to crops during periods of short-term drought common to the region.  These conservation systems are site specific, use cover crops with high residue crop rotations, and integrate residue and soil management factors to reduce input costs and maximizing crop yields.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Conservation tillage is now a common farming system in this region with farmers using conservation strategies, including non-inversion fall tillage and cover crops.  Conservation management systems are being used on approximately 75 percent of the cotton grown in the largest cotton producing counties in the region.

complete grazing studies using chicory and plantain in grazing systems and make preliminary recommendations to producers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at University Park, Pennsylvania, applied ecological and physiological principles to develop pasture management systems that lower production costs and reduce the risks of drought.  They found that planting mixtures of up to five forage species together improved insect resistance and increased productivity under drought stress.  For example, white clover grown in mixtures of grasses and forbs instead of in a monoculture, produced more dry matter, had better water relationships, and was less susceptible to potato leafhopper attacks.  English plantain, a forb from New Zealand, was found to be very productive during drought, but was highly susceptible to freezing stress and does not survive Northeastern winters.  Several new varieties of chicory were evaluated, but they did not perform as well as the original variety, "Puna."

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Increasing the number of plant species in pastures increased carbon sequestration and resulted in greater root mass with roots going to lower depths in the soil.  Both of these characteristics result in improved pasture drought tolerance.

complete data collection on a forage-based finishing system for beef cattle and evaluate sustainability of the production system in Appalachia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A study by scientists at Beaver, West Virginia, of pasture fed beef production found that most of the animals were directly marketed by producers.  There was also great variation in the herd size and forage systems used by producers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The study did find that there was a market for forage finished beef in the major cities along the Atlantic Coast and that premium prices are being paid.  However, because of the lack of any central marketing or common production systems, it was not possible to evaluate the economic sustainability of the industry as it is now structured.  Long‑term research is needed to assess the risks and potential profitability of alternative production systems.  There is also a need for research in how the food quality of the beef affects market prices and demand.

recommend dietary supplementation for goats browsing invasive species on underutilized hill land sites in the East.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Beaver, West Virginia, collected tissue from seven shrub species over three years.  Chemical analyses indicate that these woody plants provide goats with high levels of energy and protein, but that supplemental phosphorus is needed in some cases.  Data is now being used to prepare detailed supplementation recommendations for each of the shrubs during each season of the year.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Successful management of meat goats grazing on brush infested hillsides provides farmers with an additional source of income, while controlling undesirable woody plants that have invaded pastures.  The dietary recommendations from this study will aid farmers in providing critical nutrient supplementation at minimal cost. 

compare rhizomatous versus non-rhizomatous trefoil grown with tall fescue to evaluate grazing and disease resistance data and present producers with management recommendations.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A multi‑location study on the expression of rhizomes in birdsfoot trefoil and the effects of the presence of rhizomes on persistence was completed by ARS scientists at Columbia, Missouri, in cooperation with other ARS scientists at Booneville, Arkansas; Corvallis, Oregon; Logan, Utah; and Madison, Wisconsin, plus university scientists at Iowa State and Cornell.  While both lines being evaluated produced rhizomes at all locations, there were noticeable variations in the extent of rhizome expression and in plant persistence, indicating the significant role of environment in birdsfoot trefoil performance.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The complex interactions between environment and genetic material greatly increase the difficulty of developing widely adapted rhizomatous varieties of birdsfoot trefoil.  Because of the complexity of the research and limited resources, this line of research has been terminated.

start trials on a new vaccine to reduce or eliminate abortions and premature birth in cattle caused by broom snakeweed.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cattle fed snakeweed under research conditions typically died instead of developing reproduction problems.  Because of an inadequate understanding of the interactions between livestock grazing behavior and the toxic nature of snakeweed, a new vaccine could not be developed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Research is continuing to gain a better understanding of the patterns of snakeweed consumption by grazing cattle that result in abortions and premature birth and the plant’s productions of toxins under these conditions.  As this knowledge is gained, recommendations will be made on changing grazing management and decisions made on the feasibility of developing a new vaccine.

scale up the rotational sequence experiment begun in 2001 to two additional field sites for spatial replication, and the necessary temporal replication and testing of pasture systems in Appalachia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Over the past two years, scientists from Beaver, West Virginia; University of West Virginia; and Virginia Tech established replicated pastures at three locations to use in developing production guidelines for producing grass fed beef in Appalachia.  The three locations are at Steeles Tavern, Virginia; Morgan, West Virginia; and Willow Bend, West Virginia.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This greatly enhanced research capability will allow the scientific assessment of alternative forage systems for producing beef on grass under a wide range of environmental and economic conditions.

During FY 2003, ARS will

make available recommendations on the use of cover crops for increasing the sustainability of cropping systems.

develop crop rotations that will increase water use efficiency in the Great Plains.

show that switch grass and gama grass, both native grasses, when grazed in the Mid-Atlantic region, will result in nearly double the average daily gain of steers compared with coastal or Tifton bermudagrass.

determine optimal combination of site preparation method and seeded species mixture in management of Russian knapweed infested hay meadows.

complete multi-year evaluations on the use of annual lespedeza as a farm raised protein supplement double cropped with grazed winter wheat for more efficient production of beef stocker calves grazing warm season perennial grasses in an integrated crop/livestock production system.

During FY 2004, ARS will

evaluate livestock performance in the Northern Great Plains on over seeded rangelands using alternative grazing management strategies.

identify optimal protein levels and supplementation strategies for alfalfa and corn silage-based dairy rations for maintaining high milk production, while reducing nitrogen excretion.

identify and evaluate improved grasses and legumes that can be integrated into livestock grazing systems to increase profitability and environmental sustainability in the Southern Great Plains.

demonstrate and publish guidance on the use of sheep to control knapweed.

evaluate and develop management strategies for seed production and establishment of native plants.

develop remote sensing techniques that will identify the nitrogen status of crops and allow nitrogen fertilizer to be added at rates that will optimize crop growth and yield.

develop cost-effective practices to ameliorate root restrictive layers in soils to improve root growth and soil water utilization.

determine the most promising combination of tillage and cover crops for promoting biologically-based control of nutrition and pest control in crops produced in the subtropical United States.

determine crop sequence effects on productivity, water use, weed seedbank, and soil quality.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop tools to identify and remediate soils with high soil strength.

demonstrate forage production and grazing management systems that increase economic sustainability.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.3.2:  Provide information to public agencies and private organizations and directly to farmers and ranchers that will lead to adoption of improved cropland and grazingland management strategies.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will provide a Phosphorous-Index decision tool for pastures that will allow more effective use of manure nutrients while protecting environmental quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from the Poultry Production and Products Safety Research Laboratory at Fayetteville, Arkansas, have developed a Phosphorus Index for pasture conditions.  The Index is a relative scale for soils’ ability to hold phosphorus.  It is useful for farmers, allowing them to use poultry litter on sites that the Index shows would not loose phosphorus to surface water.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) uses the Phosphorus Index in Arkansas to write nutrient management plans for farms and watersheds.  The use of this screening tool has reduced time spent developing nutrient management plans and results in lower nutrient management planning costs for farmers and producers.

During FY 2003, ARS will

deliver refined predictions of pesticide loadings to the Delmarva Peninsula.

evaluate multi-year information regarding the effect of beef cattle stocking rate on grazing behavior and nutrient distribution in the Gulf Coast region.

provide techniques to ranchers and natural resources managers that use both ground-based methods and remotely sensed imagery to rapidly assess and monitor rangeland conditions of pastures and watersheds in the Southwestern United States.

provide information on effects of spring drought and associated grazing on the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems.

assist the Burns Paiute Tribe in development of vegetation monitoring technologies for use in management of tribal landholdings.

During FY 2004, ARS will

provide information on germination ecology of selected invasive weeds and revegetation species to improve management of competition during the restoration of degraded rangelands.

provide improved monitoring tools usable at multiple scales to provide timely information needed for managing ecosystem restoration and conservation.

evaluate the effects of plant species diversity in pastures on dry matter intake, production, and grazing behavior of cattle.

develop a decision support system that will allow action agencies, advisors and producers to assess the sustainability of land management practices.

develop a database on soil carbon and other soil properties from long-term experiments in the wheat growing region of the Pacific Northwest, in the Great Plains  and in the Mid-Atlantic that can be used for determining effects of soil management on carbon sequestration and soil quality.

produce a video on management considerations of early season crops for the Northern Great Plains.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a decision support aid for farmers and land managers to determine the best strategies for ameliorating eroded or crusted soils.

develop management strategies for reclamation of high boron soils.

provide information and technology for improving rangeland monitoring.

provide information and technology for matching livestock and forage varieties to improve economic and environmental sustainability.

OBJECTIVE 4.2:  Risk management:  “Improve risk management in the United States agriculture industry.”

STRATEGY 4.2.1:  Economic and environmental risks:  Reduce economic and environmental risks through improved management of agricultural production systems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.2.1.1:  Risk-reduction strategies and methods transferred to the Nation's agricultural industry.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

enhance grower management tools by releasing two decision aids -- one will address whole farm/ranch management in the Central Great Plains and the other will be useful in the management of a wheat crop.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A whole-farm decision support system, Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management (GPFARM) was developed by ARS scientists from the Great Plains Systems Research Laboratory at Fort Collins, Colorado, in collaboration with Colorado State University, other ARS units, and local farmers and ranchers.  GPFARM also can serve as a decision support system for use in the management of wheat production.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Producers in the Central Great Plains now have an effective and comprehensive tool to quickly select management options that are economically and environmentally sustainable for their local farm/ranch conditions.  Public Version 2.0 of GPFARM was released in April 2002, and currently over 75 copies of this model are in use by producers in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming.

analyze the current utility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration=s (NOAA) climate forecasts for risk reduction applications in agricultural production and natural resources management.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, have developed a methodology of taking NOAA’s 3‑month regional weather forecast and downscaling the forecast to a monthly or daily time step and reducing the scale to an individual farmer’s field.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With this new information and associated tools being developed by the ARS scientists, farmers and ranchers can establish the risk associated with the uncertainty of weather forecasts.  This information will assist farmers and ranchers in making timely decisions regarding management practices that should result in increased farm/ranch profitability. 

analyze historical precipitation in the Great Plains region, including inter-annual, decadal, and spatial variations to support the downscaling of climate forecasts and risk assessments associated with extreme climatic events.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, have completed the analysis on the reliability and usefulness of using NOAA’s long‑term weather forecast for drought prediction and management throughout the United States for the years 1997 through 2000.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reliability and usefulness were found to vary by region of the country.  The most reliable forecasts were for California, the desert southwest, the Southern Great Plains, the Gulf Coast region, and Florida.  Producers in these regions are most likely to benefit from using this information when determining what crops to plant and when to plant, if supplemental irrigation will be needed, and, given the projected precipitation, what the potential yield will be, thus reducing the uncertainty in potential farm gate cash receipts.

begin to improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds, arthropods, and disease pests.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An ARS scientist has been located in Ithaca, New York, to address these risk analysis questions, and positions are being sought for other locations to conduct this type of research.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: To provide the knowledge needed to conduct a post-release risk assessment, this research will determine the physiological and ecological parameters that contribute to host specificity, reduced host competitiveness and degree of impact on native Lythraceae species.  Improved predictive capability of host-specificity testing and ecological risk assessment of biological control agents will aid future weed biological control programs and increase public support for this technology. 

develop methods to assess the risk of water scarcity on irrigated crop lands.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Phoenix, Arizona, were able to improve the current methods for determining crop coefficients needed to estimate daily crop evapotranspiration (ET) for scheduling irrigation under conditions of water scarcity or reduced water availability for pumping.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The modified procedures for determining crop coefficients and ET have been included in the Foreign Agricultural Organization’s (FAO’s) guidelines for determining irrigation water requirements (FAO‑56).

During FY 2003, ARS will

expand assessments of land use and management changes at the watershed scale-based on measurements of water quantity and water quality.

develop methods to assess the risk of water scarcity on irrigated and drylands.

begin to improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop planning and management tools for agricultural production, economic evaluation, and resource conservation that reflect risk and uncertainty associated with climate and weather variability.

develop crop-based, site-specific management strategies for application of nitrogen (N), which maximizes fertilizer N recovery and minimizes environmental impact, using remotely sensed data.

improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds by increasing research on biological information and new species discovery.

During FY 2005, ARS will

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, and Federal and State natural resource and water management agencies to anticipate a drought and respond to ongoing water scarcity and drought through improved understanding of climate forecasting.

develop tools to predict regional atmospheric transport and deposition of pesticides in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in Rapid Response Teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies in biologically based weed management in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds by increasing research on biological information and new species discovery.

STRATEGY 4.2.2:  Weather and environmental risks:  Develop concepts and technologies for predicting and reducing the socio-economic costs and resource damages associated with extreme weather variability.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.2.2.1:  Improve strategies and technologies that reduce the effects of extreme weather variability.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will improve the ability to predict cold season flooding in the Pacific Northwest by combining remote sensing with basin-scale hydrologic modeling to provide improved information on landscape conditions prior to flooding.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Determined that the standard equations to predict precipitation in the Pacific Northwest significantly underestimates precipitation.  New algorithms were developed by ARS scientists at the Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho, and provided to the National Weather Service.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The National Weather Service adopted the new algorithms developed by ARS and are using them to provide improved radar derived precipitation estimates.  This will improve the forecasting of flooding when rainfall occurs on snow in the mountainous regions of the West.

During FY 2003, ARS will develop relationships that link climate and weather characteristics at field and watershed scales, as well as seasonal to daily scales.

During FY 2004, ARS will enhance methodologies to estimate soil water availability and agricultural productivity based on regional climate predictions, long-term water resource budgets, and current weather conditions.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop new risk assessment technology that can be used by agricultural producers to determine production and economic risks associated with seasonal climate forecasts.

develop enhanced methodologies to estimate soil water availability that can be utilized by agricultural producers to determine potential crop yield.

OBJECTIVE 4.3:  Safe production and processing:  “Improve the safe production and processing of, and adding of value to, United States food and fiber resources using methods that maintain the balance between yield and environmental soundness.”

STRATEGY 4.3.1:  Environmentally-safe pest management:  Develop environmentally-safe methods to prevent or control pests (insects, weeds, pathogens, etc.) in plants, animals, and ecosystems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.1.1:  Deliver integrated pest management strategies that are cost-effective and protect natural resources, human health, and the environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

publish data on the effectiveness of using sheep to control leafy spurge.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Work is ongoing, and draft reports are being prepared.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Preliminary information indicates that, under certain circumstances, sheep can be effective biological control agents for leafy spurge.

continue to develop and begin to evaluate and transfer biologically-based fire ant control technologies to State and private organizations.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A new stage of Thelohania solenopsis, a bacterial pathogen of fire ants, was discovered that could be crucial to enhancing propagation in colonies.  Several new species of parasitic phorid flies were introduced from South America and are being evaluated in a laboratory containment facility with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  The areawide program now is executed in seven States.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More than 320 million acres in 12 southern States are infested with invasive red or black fire ants, which cause billions of dollars of losses to the livestock, medical, and construction industries.  In many places, reliance solely on insecticide is not practicable.  Pathogens and parasitic flies are self-sustaining and disseminating, which will reduce dependence on pesticides.

continue to evaluate and begin transfer of Formosan termite control technology to State and industry.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The French Quarter demonstration project in New Orleans, Louisiana, was expanded by 15 city blocks and includes areas along the Mississippi River.  The program was reorganized to include a national coordinator to provide better liaison with stakeholders.  The number of trapped termite alates (winged forms) has decreased in the core area by 65 percent.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Formosan subterranean termites were introduced from Asia to New Orleans 60 years ago and now cause extensive damage to wooden structures in all the Gulf States.  Because of their habits they are much more difficult to control than native termites.  The historic French Quarter is especially at risk.   Since the beginning of the Congressionally funded demonstration project, however, the progression of damage has been substantially reduced.  The integrated control strategy will soon be tested in Mississippi and other infested areas.

continue field evaluation and improvements of 4-Poster technology for the control of Lyme disease in the Northwest and cattle fever in the Southwest.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   The use of the 4-Poster bait stations for reducing tick infestations of wild deer, the main hosts of the Lyme disease vector, Ixodes scapularis, completed the third year of a five-year Congressionally funded trial in the Northeast, resulting in tick reductions of 65 to 90 percent. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Cattle fever was eliminated from the United States by the eradication of its vector, the black legged tick, using control methods developed by ARS.  However, cattle fever still occurs in Mexico and wild deer are a major agent for their reinvasion of the United States.  The 4-Poster is being successfully tested to control the black legged tick in Texas and the ticks that transmit Lyme disease in New England.

continue to develop and transfer sterile fly production technology to APHIS-International Service for use in the screwworm eradication program.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the Midwestern Livestock Insect Research Unit, Lincoln, Nebraska, have for the first time proved the concept that screwworm flies can be genetically altered.  They inserted multiple copies of a fluorescent gene into the fly embryo and activated the genes by exposing the flies to an antibiotic.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Screwworm has now been eradicated from North and Central America using sterile insect technology developed by ARS nearly 50 years ago.  Screwworm, however, still infests the Caribbean and South America, posing a constant threat to U.S. livestock and people.  The current method of producing sterile flies is the use of ionizing irradiation.  A genetically sterile line of flies would be less costly and safer.

deliver areawide integrated pest management (IPM) technologies for control of pest insects and weeds to extension and grower partners and customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Two areawide integrated pest management (IPM) projects were completed in 2002 with delivery and adoption of the technologies to extension and agribusiness customers.  Corn rootworms are the targets of almost half of the insecticides used in row crops.  ARS’ Areawide Pest Management (AWPM) program in South Dakota, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa, as well as in Texas, using an adult corn rootworm attract-and-kill technology, has yielded corn rootworm reductions of 70 percent to 90 percent in most of the test sites.  A number of corn growers have expressed interest in undertaking their own programs using this new technology. 

Leafy spurge, an exotic weed that causes millions of dollars in losses each year, infests over one million acres of rangeland.  The pest is being virtually eliminated by the use of insect natural enemies, grazing practices, and other technologies.  ARS at Sidney, Montana, led an effort to design an areawide integrated pest management program to deal with this noxious weed.  Field days, tours of control sites, and demonstrations of research technology have increased since the initiation of the program in 1997.  Program managers and cooperators (TEAM Leafy Spurge) have been devising and demonstrating practical leafy spurge management strategies that can be applied to common habitats and rangeland being utilized in the Upper Great Plains.  TEAM Leafy Spurge coordinated and provided timely collection and delivery of a total of 1.9 million Aphthona species beetles to TEAM Leafy Spurge researchers and weed managers in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.  The leafy spurge areawide project was initiated as a partnership between the ARS in Sidney, USDA-APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, the U.S. Forest Service, Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and the State Departments of Agriculture.  At a Spurgefest Field Day held in Medora, North Dakota, scientists involved with the program gave away an additional 10 million Aphthona flea beetles to ranchers and land managers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A 90 percent reduction in the amount of prophylactic soil insecticide applied to U.S. corn grown in the Midwest United States for corn rootworm is estimated to result in $300 million in estimated savings for corn growers using an adult attracticide technology being adopted by the growers.  ARS led this program out of Brookings, South Dakota. 

The leafy spurge AWPM program has been instrumental in reducing the $144 million economic impact of leafy spurge in Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota, with herbicide chemical reductions estimated at 50 percent to 95 percent.  The project was given the prestigious Technology Transfer Award from USDA-ARS in 2002.

continue to provide critical identifications of unknown pest species, provide crucially needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally and environmentally important insect, mite, and pathogen groups.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Two USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) staff members are housed in the ARS Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory in Beltsville,Maryland, where there are over 1,000,000 specimens are held in the laboratory’s collection.  This team identifies plant pathogens that threaten agricultural crops and valuable native plants.  Similarly, ARS researchers at the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, in addition to conducting basic systematics research, this year identified for APHIS 5,000 arthropod species labeled “urgent,” and identified over 12,000 species for other customers and stakeholders.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This collaboration results in rapid identifications of potential invasive species at ports of entry, allowing efficient clearing of incoming cargo ships, and protection of American agriculture and natural areas, as well as making improvements in taxonomy of important species.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in Rapid Response Teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   APHIS requested assistance from ARS to control an outbreak of screwworm that was discovered in the previously eradicated area of Chiapas, Mexico, in October 2001.  The ARS response was coordinated with all members of the Screwworm Research Unit, Midwest Livestock Insects Laboratory (MLIL), APHIS and the Mexican-American Commission for Eradication of Screwworm.  The ARS response included assistance with field monitoring of the sterile flies released in Mexico and collection of live samples that were used to start a colony and for genetic analysis at MLIL.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The activities of ARS contributed to the rapid control of the outbreak with the releases of sterile flies and provided analytical techniques and release strategies that will be useful in future outbreaks.

suppress invasive weed pests by using classical biological control approaches in permanent and managed ecosystems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Hemp sesbania, a problematic weed in much of the Southern United States, which was introduced from South America, has relatively few natural insect predators in the United States.  Research was conducted with collaborators in South America to determine the biological control potential of insects that were collected on these plant species in their area of origin.  Four weevil species were found to reduce plant populations and vigor of hemp sesbania and other weedy Sesbania spp.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results indicate that the naturalized invasive weed hemp sesbania can be controlled with introduced phytophagous insects.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The noxious weed tropical soda apple, introduced into the United States from South America, has few native insect predators in the United States.  Research continued with collaborators in South America to determine the biological control potential of insects that were collected on these plant species in their area of origin.  It was found that two Gratiana spp. and an Anthonomus sp. were effective in reducing tropical soda apple populations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research demonstrates that the introduction of natural insect pests of tropical soda apple can provide added biological pressure on this invasive species by reducing its competitiveness in natural and agricultural areas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Yellow starthistle is a serious pest of Western rangelands, infesting over 8,000 hectares in California alone.  An Environmental Assessment required for the release of the biological control agent Puccinia jaceae was completed.  Regulators in APHIS have issued a Finding of “No Significant Impact” of this biological control agent.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The ruling marks the final step in the approval for the release of Puccinia jaceae in California.  The availability of this biological control agent will provide a useful addition to the options available to land managers for controlling Yellow starthistle.

continue delivering the areawide pest management program for leafy spurge.  Evaluation of the integration of biological, chemical and cultural techniques will continue with local, State, and Federal customers that are part of TEAM Leafy Spurge.  New biological control agents for specific niches not utilized by the Aphthona spp. will be sought in Europe using staff and facilities at the ARS European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France.  Promising agents will be introduced after Federal and State approval.  Technology transfer will be provided through field days, bulletins, databases, and other means.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula, is an invasive Eurasian weed that causes millions of dollars in losses each year, and infests over 1,000,000 acres of rangeland.  The pest can be virtually eliminated by use of insect natural enemies, grazing practices, and other technologies.  ARS researchers at Sidney, Montana, have led the areawide integrated pest management program for this weed.  Field days, tours of control sites, and demonstrations of research technology have increased since the initiation of the program in 1997.  TEAM Leafy Spurge coordinated collection and delivery of a 1.9 million Aphthona species beetles to TEAM Leafy Spurge researchers, landowners and weed managers in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.  Remote sensing technology for detecting the weed before and after attack by Aphthona spp. is underway.  The project is a partnership between ARS, APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, USDA-Forest Service, the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the state Departments of Agriculture.  Two Spurgefest Field Days were held in Medora, North Dakota, where an additional 10 million Aphthona flea beetles were provided to ranchers and land managers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Land managers in the Western United States are using biologically based integrated leafy spurge management.  This is resulting in the return of grazing lands to more productive pasture, significant reductions in herbicide use, and in reduced costs to manage leafy spurge.

continue implementing the change in how biological weed control programs are planned and conducted within ARS.  Scientists will prepare a long-term management plan for each target weed.  This plan will concentrate on measuring the long-term impact of released biological control agents on the target weed and on closely related non-target plants, incorporate cultural control/revegetation as an integral part of the biologically-based weed management program, and emphasize developing partnerships.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  This change has now been implemented, and the new directions in research are being pursued.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A greater focus on long-term, biologically based integrated weed management systems will result in more rapid transfer of the technology to end users, a greater appreciation for the risk analysis of biological control, and a better understanding of the ecological relationships between weeds and their natural enemies.

continue to collect and ship many new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories.  The geographic base for collections of natural enemies will be overseas’ laboratories in Montpellier, France; Thessalonika, Greece; Beijing, China; Hurlingham, Argentina; and Brisbane, Australia.  Agents will be tested in overseas laboratories or quarantine facilities for their host specificity and appropriateness for release in the United States for control of introduced or native pests of insects and weeds.  If host specific, they will be released and evaluated.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Biological control agents for cape ivy, saltcedar, melaleuca, Yellow starthistle, leafy spurge, whitetop, Canada thistle, Russian thistle, and many other invasive weeds have been found in their native habitats, and are being tested for host specificity.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  If found to be safe for release, these biological control agents will be released and evaluated over several years for their impact on target and non-target species, risk analysis, and how they fit into integrated weed management programs.

use augmentative biological control approaches to suppress native or invasive insect and weed pests, such as tarnished plant bug, boll weevil, or kudzu.  Greenhouse and high-value crops, in particular, are targets.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The invasive perennial vines, kudzu, redvine, and trumpetcreeper are difficult to control with conventional weed control methods and in the Southern United States they are becoming problamatic.  ARS scientists at Stoneville, Mississippi, tested the bioherbicidal fungus, Myrothecium verrucaria, in combination with glyphosate for synergistic interactions. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The weeds were controlled (94 percent, 86 percent, and 78 percent, respectively) in field sites that were infested with these weeds, by simultaneous application of glyphosate and corn oil emulsion formulations containing the fungus.  The results suggest that it may be impossible to greatly enhance the bioherbicidal potential of M. verrucaria using gylphosate as a disease synergist, saving land managers millions of dollars each year. 

develop new methods to mass produce and deliver beneficial insects, such as parasites, predators, and pathogens of insect and weed pests: these include formulation of artificial diets and fermentation (or cell culture) systems for production, invention of automated processing and harvesting equipment, and improving release systems for distribution.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Research was conducted to replace the expensive and non-biodegradable gelling agents currently used in the screwworm diet with environmentally friendly paper products, including recycled newsprint.  The new paper-based diet was developed by ARS in Tuxtla-Gutierrez, Mexico, in cooperation with APHIS and the Mexican-American Commission for Eradication of Screwworm.  The results have shown that the paper-based diets produce quality insects, while requiring fewer feedings with less total diet material.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The use of the new diet in the mass production facility including labor saving and cost of material is estimated to provide an annual savings of more than $1 million, with the added benefit of a completely biodegradable waste product. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Improvements in the mass production of beneficial insects (predators and parasites) and their hosts (pest insects) was made by identifying compounds that improve the quality of artificial diets, such as soy isoflavones and optimized quantities of the antioxidant ascorbic acid.  The study also identified substances, such as the preservatives BHT and BHA that reduced dietary quality for test insects.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This use of such dietary modifications to the diets of mass reared insects will increase the efficiency of production and reduce costs of mass producing the pests for use in biologically based control programs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   A critical step in producing a commercially available biological control product is devising procedures for stabilizing biomass of the biological agent, while maintaining product effectiveness, yet nothing is known about accomplishing this goal with biological control agents active against Fusarium head blight of wheat and barley.  A new crop protectant compound, melezitose (a sugar composed of two glucose and one fructose molecules), showed superiority over seven other previously described cryoprotectants for preserving the viability of freeze dried cells of the Fusarium head blight antagonist, Cryptococcus nodaensis.  This compound was effective in maintaining the viability of yeast for more than 6 weeks when added at the beginning or end of cell production in liquid culture shake flask studies and it was also effective when added to the yeast cells after producing them in large liquid cultures.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: This discovery is a significant step towards producing an effective, commercially available biological control product from an ARS patent pending antagonist of Fusarium head blight of wheat.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Solar irradiation is a major environmental constraint to the persistence of fungal and bacterial biological control agents after application.  Formulation ingredients and processing conditions for spray drying were evaluated for encapsulating spores of the bioinsecticidal fungus Beauveria bassiana for protection from solar degradation and subsequent loss of activity.  Key formulation ingredients and physical conditions for spray drying encapsulated formulations of fungal spores were discovered that yielded viable fungal spores with improved solar stability.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of this spray drying process for formulating fungal spores with improved solar stability will likely improve the biological control efficacy of these microbial pest control agents under field conditions, thereby enhancing their potential for commercial use in agriculture.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Nutritional and environmental conditions were optimized for the production and stabilization of the fungal bioherbicide, Mycoleptodiscus terrestris, a fungal pathogen and potential biological control agent for the aquatic weed hydrilla.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Results from these studies yielded a method for producing high concentrations of a stable, infective form of the fungus, which will make possible the evaluation of this biological control agent in large-scale field trials.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cyphocleonus achates, a weed feeding weevil, has been proven to be an effective biological control agent for the invasive weed spotted knapweed.  By rearing field populations of Cyphocleonus achates adults under various combinations of laboratory and greenhouse conditions using both the host plant as well as artificial diets, improved rearing methods were developed that made possible the production of insects over multiple generations.  The methods reduced rearing time and increased survivability of insects to adulthood.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of a rearing system that can continuously produce large numbers of Cyphocleonus achates will increase the availability of this agent for use in the biological control of spotted knapweed.

develop remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed and insect distributions, abundance, and damage, and with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Increased knowledge of the biology and behavior, of pests and their natural enemies will be integral to this effort.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Remote sensing technology for detecting leafy spurge before and after attack by Aphthona spp. is underway.  The project is a partnership between ARS, APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, USDA-Forest Service, the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the State Departments of Agriculture.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Data from remote sensing will enable a better estimate of damage to leafy spurge from the Aphthona spp., making possible the benefits of the biological control agents to be more precisely determined.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Giant salvinia is an invasive, exotic aquatic fern that occurs in waterways in South and Southeast Texas.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department collaborators and ARS scientists at the Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center, Weslaco, Texas, evaluated remote sensing techniques for distinguishing giant salvinia.  This research demonstrated that giant salvinia has unique reflectance characteristics that facilitates its detection by aerial color-infrared photography.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Airborne remote sensing has potential for differentiating and mapping giant salvinia infestations over large and inaccessible areas.  The development of this technology will make possible the remote analysis of the impact of biological control agents on this invasive species.

determine how the signaling strategies of plants interface with the feeding behavior of pests and the foraging behavior of natural enemies of those pests.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Since research to improve cropping systems in ways that maximize the presence and effectiveness of beneficial insects and other natural pest control is an essential foundation for sustainable pest management, ARS scientists in Georgia and USDA-SARE initiated on-farm studies in cooperation with cotton farmers associated with the Georgia Conservation Tillage Alliance to assess the benefits of various winter cover crop schemes for fostering natural enemy/pest balances, improving soil/water quality, and increasing net profitability.  The results demonstrated that legume blends of crimson clover with another legume or rye fostered increased numbers of beneficial insects.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In addition to other benefits, cover crop systems can attract beneficial insects, thus reducing the need for pesticide interventions without reductions in yield.  Such systems provide farmers with ecologically based, profitable crop production methodologies.

complete the technology transfer of diagnostic tests for tick vectored equine babesiosis.  This will facilitate the international movement of horses and make equine events in the United States less restrictive.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Equine babesiosis diagnostic test development was completed and the test transferred to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Having a rapid and accurate diagnostic test for equine babesiosis will now facilitate the international movement of horses for shows, events, and sales.

continue to develop biological methods to control biting and filth flies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A native, naturally occurring baculovirus, lethal to Culex species of mosquitoes that are primarily responsible for transmitting West Nile virus, was discovered by scientists at the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, Gainesville, Florida.  The action mode of magnesium salt in enhancing infectivity of the baculovirus was discovered.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Chemical pesticides to control immature mosquitoes are costly and often toxic.  Self-sustaining biological agents are being sought to supplement and reduce chemical use.  The baculovirus discovered in Florida, has been successfully tested in small field trials.  Previously, dependence on certain water salt concentrations limited its effectiveness, but new knowledge of how salts enhance infectivity will lead to more effective formulations.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to develop and begin to evaluate and transfer biologically-based fire ant control technologies to State and private organizations.

continue to evaluate and begin transfer of Formosan termite control technology to State and industry.

continue field evaluation and improvements of 4-Poster technology for the control of Lyme disease in the Northwest and cattle fever in the Southwest.

continue to develop and transfer sterile fly production technology to APHIS-International Service for use in the screwworm eradication program.

continue to develop and field test biologically-based management methods to control biting and filth breeding insects (e.g., mosquitoes, using bacteria, viruses, and microsporidia biocontrol agents as replacements for conventional chemical control methods.

develop new methods and products for improved control of Marek’s disease, avian leukosis, avian influenza, avian pneumovirus, swine influenza, porcine circovirus, bovine cryptosporidiosis, Brucella abortus in bison and swine, mastitis in dairy cows, foot‑and‑mouth disease, and Pasteurella‑ and Bordetella‑induced respiratory diseases of livestock and poultry.

develop improved diagnostic and typing  methods for Marek’s disease virus, avian leukosis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus,  adenoviral diseases in ruminants, foot‑and‑mouth disease, African swine fever, hog cholera, and entrohemorrhagic E. coli.

identify genes involved in pathogenesis of bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses.

identify bovine genes responsible for resistance to internal parasites.

sequence genome of vesicular stomatitis virus, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and entrohemorrhagic E. coli.

determine whether selected species of mosquitoes are susceptible to infection with the West Nile Virus.

continue to determine the movement, breeding habitat, and biological control agents of stable flies, which will be used to develop new pest management strategies for the U.S. livestock industry.

continue development of a practical and improved trap for monitoring populations of horn flies on cattle and  the amitraz collar for the control of lone star ticks on deer.

determine if there is an association between the levels of a dissolved salt or salts in larval habitats and the presence of biting midges.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological control measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop IPM-based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver IPM components and systems and areawide suppression technologies for control of pests to the State extension services, grower partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species having the  potential to become major invasive species.

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage.  Develop economic thresholds and relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control efforts and measure success. 

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop, evaluate and transition biologically based agents and innovative delivery systems to control arthropods of veterinary, medical, or urban importance.

further develop genomics and proteomics to assist with the delivery of an integrated pest management strategy.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological  measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop integrated pest management (IPM) based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver pest management technologies for control of pests, including areawide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies, to extension, industry, partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies of biologically based weed management, in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

During FY 2005, ARS will

utilize the knowledge gained from the further sequencing of important microbial agriculture pathogens to better understand the host pathogen interaction and therefore better establish an improved pest management strategy.

develop, evaluate and transition biologically based agents and innovative delivery systems to control arthropods of veterinary, medical or urban importance.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological control measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop integrated pest management (IPM) based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver pest management technologies for control of pests, including areawide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies, to extension, industry, partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies of biologically based weed management, in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

STRATEGY 4.3.2:  Integrated agricultural production systems:  Develop knowledge and integrated technologies for promoting use of environmentally sustainable agricultural production systems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.2.1:  Demonstrate the effectiveness of integrated agricultural production systems in the improvement of natural resources and protection of the environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to provide information on production systems effects on productivity and environmental quality.

provide realistic scenarios for spatially variable application of chemical inputs by small cotton farmers; release recommendations for improving soil nutrient balance strategies for organic, no-till systems for corn and cotton, with application to vegetables and other crops; and describe systems that utilize new cover crops and  their management for cotton production using conservation tillage.

During FY 2004, ARS will

have methodology available to remediate soils contaminated by nickel using phytoextration.

develop specific cropping systems and management practices to increase potato grower profits and control plant diseases with reduced chemical inputs.

During FY 2005, ARS will

have methodology available to remediate soils contaminated by nickel using phytoextration.

develop specific cropping systems and management practices to increase potato grower profits and control plant diseases with reduced chemical inputs.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.2.2:  Provide computer-based models and decision-support systems to farmers, public agencies, and private organizations.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as that agency deploys the ARS-developed Water Erosion Prediction Project model throughout the Nation for the first time.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The U.S. Forest Service is using the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) in road siting and design to assess the effects of timber harvesting and address the impacts of wildfire.  NRCS has chosen to implement the RUSLE2 (a upgraded version of the original Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) model developed by ARS as the tool of choice to estimate soil erosion of farming practices at the farm field scale, and are continuing to test and evaluate the WEPP model for other applications.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The WEPP model will help forest managers select the best management practices to help reduce soil erosion and sedimentation in the Nation’s streams and lakes, and protect vital endangered wildlife habitat in the Nation’s national forests. 

complete and evaluate the final version of the sage grouse simulation model that will aid public and private land managers in developing grazing plans that will adequately protect bird habitats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS Scientists at Dubois, Idaho, and Mandan, North Dakota, in cooperation with Texas A&M University and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, have developed a model to simulate the effects of fire and grazing on sagebrush communities and sage grouse population dynamics.  Results indicate frequent, large-scale fires may contribute to significant declines of local populations.  Sheep grazing may also result in small declines in sage grouse numbers.  The model is a preliminary attempt to provide additional information for managing rangelands to benefit sage grouse populations. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Because of declining sage grouse populations, alternative management strategies must be rapidly evaluated at low costs with minimal adverse impact on the bird population.  The model is an important step in developing affordable decision support systems that can quickly provide valuable information for managing rangelands to benefit sage grouse populations, while maintaining other natural resource uses. 

release new and revised spreadsheets to aid cattle producers in setting optimum stocking rates on Wyoming sagebrush steppe.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Very large-scale aerial (VLSA) photography obtained from low flying ultra‑light aircraft has been tested for two years and found to be an excellent tool for monitoring plant communities over extensive areas.  This timely and accurate source of data makes spreadsheets and other decision support tools more effective in managing grazing operations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Science‑based data collection and decision support tools that provide affordable information aid producers in identifying stocking rates that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop models and decision support systems for use in economic and water quality risk assessments of agricultural conservation programs.

evaluate yield and profitability data of various silvopastoral systems predicted by U.S. Agroforestry Estate Model to field observations to determine the suitability of tree growth estimates developed from forestry setting for agroforestry systems.

release on the Internet a whole farm simulation model of beef production for evaluating and comparing the long-term economic and environmental impacts of implementing new technologies and management strategies on the farm.

deliver four decision aids for peanut production and marketing.

deliver a baseline for the optimal time path for resource allocation by small, livestock/crop farms in Western Oregon.

During FY 2004, ARS will

demonstrate the use of economic and environmental risk assessment tools to evaluate benefits of implementing water quality improvements in resource conservation planning.

develop predictive models (e.g., CREEDA) describing the economic and environmental impacts of conservation and management options for the West.

produce a comprehensive (Farm suite) peanut management decision support tool.

During FY 2005, ARS will

upgrade the Crop Sequence Calculator, a computer program used by producers to evaluate and customize cropping systems, with research data on late season crops.  

develop a decision support model to reduce ammonia volatilization and distribute the model to user groups through electronic media. 

develop a model-based tool for establishing optimized site specific nutrient application plans.

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) which is the action agency that deploys the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation 2 model.

provide technical support to the U.S. Forest Service, which is the action agency that deploys the Water Erosion Prediction Project model.

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is the agency that deploys  the ARS developed Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) model throughout the Nation.

STRATEGY 4.3.3:  Waste management and utilization:  Develop and transfer cost-effective technologies and systems to use agricultural, urban, and industrial wastes for production of food, fiber, and other products.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.3.1:  Develop and demonstrate management practices and technologies to effectively handle, store, treat, and apply wastes to obtain consistent economic benefits, while protecting environmental quality, human health, and animal health.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop improved manure liquid/solids separation methods for enhanced nutrient recovery.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from Florence, South Carolina, in cooperation with North Carolina State University, have developed and evaluated the performance of a solids/liquid separation system for swine wastewater based on injection of polyacrylamide polymers to increase solids flocculation followed by sand filtration to separate the solids.  The system reduced suspended solids in the liquid phase by a factor of 60 and produced removable solids cakes within 48 hours.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Rapid and efficient separation of manure solids from the liquid phase is a critical step in the development of treatment systems technologies that can provide an alternative to anaerobic lagoons for swine wastewater management.  This technique allows over 80 percent of the organic nutrients to be captured in the solid phase, where they can be converted into value added products for horticultural and home gardening markets.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop improved analytical methods for the detection of pathogens in manure and the environment.

provide additional knowledge about the microorganisms responsible for the generation of malodorous compounds from animal production facilities, and methods to control these odors.  

develop a method for the determination of nitrogen mineralization from manures so that improved nutrient management decisions can be recommended.

develop treatment systems technologies that will improve nitrogen and phosphorous management in swine wastewater.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop management practices and treatment technologies to reduce atmospheric emissions from livestock and poultry production systems.

develop treatment technologies that will reduce or eliminate pathogens in manure and wastewater.

determine the feasibility of “quick tests” to measure phosphorus and nitrogen availability in manures, so that producers can more accurately apply manures for crop and forages production.

provide compost and manure application guidelines for farmers, including options to manage phosphorus levels with byproduct and manure blending.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a process model to predict air emissions from livestock production operations.

develop tools for tracking sources of manure pathogens.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.3.2:  Demonstrate the conversion of agricultural waste into liquid fuels and industrial feedstocks.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop an improved process for the production of biodiesel from waste edible oils.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An efficient method was developed to produce biodiesel from acid oil, a coproduct of edible oil refining that sells for approximately half the price of refined oils.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new technology adds value to a low value lipid, while reducing the cost of producing biodiesel.

During FY 2003, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.

During FY 2004, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.

During FY 2005, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.


Goal V

GOAL V:  To Increase the Capacity of Communities, Families, and Individuals to Enhance Their Economic Well-being and Quality of Life.

 Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

      FY 2002

      FY 2003

      FY 2004

     Soil, Water & Air Sciences

          4,107

          4,022

          4,061

     Plant Sciences

        90,229

         93,641

        94,483

     Animal Sciences

        39,951

        40,000

        40,371

     Commodity Conversion & Delivery

          2,606

          2,181

          2,208

     Human Nutrition

                0

                0

                0

     Integration of Agricultural Systems

          5,555

          5,706

          5,719

                Total

     $142,448

     $145,550

     $146,842

     FTEs

          1,455

           1,500

          1,500

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results in FY 2002:  This goal focuses primarily on activities designed to get research-based information to individuals and communities that will be useful for addressing a wide range of socio-economic issues.  Under Goal V, 11 Indicators are aligned under 7 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 11 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Eleven significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 5.1:  Economic opportunity and technology transfer:  Conduct “agricultural research ... to promote economic opportunity in rural communities and to meet the increasing demand for information and technology transfer throughout the United States agriculture industry.”

STRATEGY 5.1.1:  Rural development opportunities:  Develop farming systems tailored to diverse agricultural production enterprises to enhance profits, sustainability, and environmental quality.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.1.1:  Experimentally demonstrate the successful operation of small-scale production and processing systems, evaluate small-scale animal and plant production systems, and enhance high-value agricultural products.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop specifications for beef cattle and meat goats finished on pasture that will provide criteria for evaluating finishing systems and marketing criteria for pasture raised livestock.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In order to determine optimal forage-based beef cattle finishing systems, fatty acid profiles of a number of forages were determined.  Animal performance prior to the finishing phase was evaluated in order to determine carry-over influences on ultimate meat quality and consumer acceptance of pasture-finished beef products.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Forage fatty acid profiles will be used to develop forage finishing systems that result in maximum deposition of conjugated linoleic acids, associated with lower risk heart disease, in livestock.  To increase consistency and quality of pasture finished beef, pre-finishing animal performance levels must be optimized.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue to evaluate effect of winter stocker performance level on end product performance and will develop calibration equations for NIR analysis of forages from fatty acid profile data.

During FY 2004, ARS will develop methodology and specifications for assessment of consumer acceptance of pasture-finished beef products and will develop optimized forage regimens for the finishing phase.

During FY 2005, ARS will conduct consumer sensory evaluation of pasture-finished beef products from several forage-animal performance level regimens.

STRATEGY 5.1.2:  Information access and delivery:  Provide improved access to and dissemination of information to increase public knowledge and awareness of agricultural research, to aid technology transfer, and to speed up sharing of new knowledge.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.2.1:  Make information on ARS research results and inventions available electronically via the Internet and similar resources.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, the ARS Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) will make additional efforts to use publications, Web sites, exhibits at trade shows, and other means to expand the public’s knowledge of how to access ARS technology.  A new selection to the OTT Web site will be created to provide industry with a comprehensive review of past ARS research projects that have been transferred to the private sector to exemplify the technology transfer program.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  OTT aggressively increased subscriptions to its Technology Alerts electronic mailing list, which allows businesses to receive notifications when new technologies are available for licensing. New subscribers are actively sought at trades shows, industry meetings, workshops, and through targeted mailings. As a result of these efforts, the list, which started with 105 members in July 2001, now has more than 719 subscribers.  OTT updates its Web site and continues to provided industry with the latest information on new technologies available for licensing, as well as examples of ARS research projects that have been successfully transferred to the marketplace for public consumption and use.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This service not only helps expand the public’s knowledge of how to access ARS technology, but it also helps keep ARS research on the minds of key industry contacts, helps reach a broader audience at no extra cost, increases the likelihood of technology licensing, and helps in the decision-making process when determining whether or not to pursue foreign patent protection.

During FY 2003, OTT will make additional efforts to integrate and communicate information to lay industry audiences about technological advances in ARS that help solve agricultural problems of national concern.  Redesigning the OTT Web site will help provide industry with easier access to information through new features including easier content navigation, an integrated feature that searches the entire site, generic agreement forms, contact lists for easier public accessibility to the OTT staff, technologies by related subjects, featured items showcasing new ARS technology, and comprehensive reviews of ARS research projects that have been successfully transferred to the public.

During FY 2004, OTT will make additional efforts to integrate and communicate information to industry and lay audiences about technological advances in ARS that help solve agricultural problems of national concern.  Through its Web site, OTT will offer a new service that will help businesses to quickly and easily identify cooperative partnering opportunities.  OTT will continue to update and showcase research projects that have been successfully transferred to the marketplace for widespread public consumption and use.

During FY 2005, OTT will continue to integrate and communicate information to industry and lay audiences about technological advances in ARS that help solve agricultural problems of national concern.  OTT will plan strategies that will increase the number of members to its Technology Alert subscription list to more than 800 subscribers.  ARS will develop new ways to inform businesses about partnering and licensing opportunities.  This will be accomplished through various technology transfer showcases, meetings, trade shows, and targeted mailings.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.2.2:  Provide more cost-effective and efficient public information and technology transfer.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, OTT will

further expand efforts to be actively involved in the planning and organization of several events designed for highlighting new ARS technologies and identifying industry partners for commercialization.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Working in concert with Florida Enterprise, and the Florida Small Business Council, ARS co-hosted the “Florida Technology Showcase” at the ARS lab in Ft. Pierce, Florida, that included ARS technologies developed across the agency. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A number of new contacts were made resulting from the Technology Showcase.  Subsequent interactions between industry and ARS researchers are expected to result in additional cooperative research.  Furthermore, several inquiries on existing technologies have been received.

submit 80 new patent applications.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Ninety patent applications were filed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New technologies are available for licensing.

participate in 90 new CRADAs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Participated in 59 new CRADAs, 436 Material Transfer Agreements, and 29 other research and development agreements.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New partnerships were formed to advance the development and commercialization of ARS technologies.

license 32 new products.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Twenty-six licenses were established.  This year, with the downturn in the economy, a number of license applications were withdrawn by industry.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Progress toward the commercialization of new ARS technologies.

develop 70 new plant varieties for release to industry for further development and marketing.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Released 45 new plant varieties out of the 47 plant materials submitted by ARS scientists.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New varieties are available to producers to enhance production, crop quality, and disease resistance.

During FY 2003, OTT will 

further expand its efforts to be actively involved in planning and organizing special events and industry trade shows designed to highlight new ARS technologies for commercialization and identify industry partners. These efforts will include:

submitting 80 new patent applications.

participating in 70 new CRADAs.

licensing 32 new products.

developing 70 new plant varieties for release to industry for further development and marketing.

During FY 2004, OTT will

further expand its efforts to be actively involved in planning and organizing special events and industry trade shows designed to highlight new ARS technologies for commercialization and identify industry partners.  These efforts will include:

submitting approximately 85 new patent applications.

developing approximately 65 new CRADAs.

formalize licenses for 30 new products.

develop 70 new plant varieties for release to industry for further development and marketing.

During FY 2005, OTT will

further expand its efforts to be actively involved in planning and organizing special events and industry trade shows designed to highlight new ARS technologies for commercialization and identify industry partners.  These efforts will include:

submitting approximately 85 new patent applications.

developing approximately 65 new CRADAs.

formalize licenses for 30 new products.

develop 70 new plant varieties for release to industry for further development and marketing.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.2.3:  Research programs include information and technology transfer considerations.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

continue development of an Internet Web site to communicate to the public the National Invasive Species Management Plan and other activities relating to invasive species, through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Efficient information exchange is a key goal of the National Invasive Species Management Plan (NIAMP) that was facilitated by the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), but no mechanism existed to implement the task.  ARS information technology staff with the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, along with collaborations from the National Biological Information Infrastructure and the Center for Biological Informatics of the U.S. Geological Survey, developed www.invasivespecies.gov, the official gateway to invasive species information in the United States.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This Web site provides customers and stakeholders with an easy, rapid and thorough entrée to global information on invasive species.  It provides links to approximately 6,200 unique resources, and useage by customers and stakeholders is high and increasing.

enhance its partnership with local and State customers who are helping with the site selection, distribution of biological control agents, testing of other management techniques, and technology transfer to land managers through OTT.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Working with Area Directors, contracting specialists, and extramural agreement specialists, OTT’s Technology Transfer Coordinator organized field days, whereby candidate biocontrol agents were distributed to land managers.  “Shrink wrap” Material Transfer Agreements were developed by OTT for such purposes.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Research outcomes are distributed to end users in a manner that facilitates testing, acceptance, and adoption of technologies by end users.  This task was completed in FY 2002.

During FY 2003, ARS will organize a national technology transfer symposium focusing on integrating ecological principles into weed management, through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council and USDA-CSREES.

During FY 2004, ARS will

organize a national technology transfer symposium focusing on integrating ecological principles into weed management through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council and USDA-CSREES.         

continue to develop an Internet Web site to communicate to the public the National Invasive Species Management Plan and other activities relating to invasive species through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council.

During FY 2005, ARS will

organize a national technology transfer symposium focusing on integrating ecological principles into weed management through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council and USDA-CSREES.       

continue to develop an Internet Web site to communicate to the public the National Invasive Species Management Plan and other activities relating to invasive species through a partnership with the National Invasive Species Council.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.2.4:  An ARS plan to achieve the requirements of GPEA will be submitted to the Department by October 15, 2000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.2.5:  Implementation of the requirements of the GPEA will be accomplished by October 21, 2003.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will implement its GPEA plan and submit quarterly accomplishment reports.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS implemented its GPEA plan and continued to make progress toward upgrading the transactions to meet the requirements as indicated in the plan.  ARS monitored its progress toward meeting the requirements of GPEA and submitted quarterly status reports to the Department.  As of the end of FY 2002, only one transaction subject to the requirements of GPEA was not yet upgraded.  It is scheduled to be upgraded by October 21, 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS data collections and transactions subject to the requirements of GPEA will be available for electronic submission by customers, in addition to the existing paper driven process.

During FY 2003, ARS will implement its GPEA plan and complete the project by October 21, 2003.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to monitor all new transactions that are subject to GPEA to ensure that the requirements are met.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to monitor all new transactions that are subject to GPEA to ensure that the requirements are met.

STRATEGY 5.1.3:  Commercialize research results:  Develop technology transfer systems that lead to commercialization of research results by industry.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 5.1.3.1: Expand the types of agreements used by ARS and delegate signatory authority to the lowest feasible level.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, OTT will work with the Extramural Agreement Division of Administrative and Financial Management and the Office of International Research Programs (OIRP) to develop standardized agreements for work with foreign cooperators.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  OTT, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, has developed language to protect USDA rights to intellectual property that has been incorporated generically into a number of documents for interactions with Mexico, Brazil, and the former Soviet countries.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Agreements initiated by OIRP and approved by the Extramural Agreements Division can now be negotiated and processed more rapidly.  Furthermore, this ensures that taxpayer funded inventions remain in the jurisdiction of USDA for the purpose of technology transfer.

During FY 2003, OTT will work with the Extramural Agreement Division of Administrative and Financial Management and the Office of International Research Programs to develop standardized agreements for work with foreign cooperators.

During FY 2004, OTT will work with the Extramural Agreement Division of Administrative and Financial Management and the Office of International Research Programs to develop standardized agreements for work with foreign cooperators.

During FY 2005, OTT will work with the Extramural Division of Administrative and Financial Management and the Office of International Research Programs to develop standardized agreements for work with foreign cooperators.


Goal VI

GOAL VI:  Effectively Marshal the Diverse Capabilities and Resources of ARS.

Objective 6.1:  Support Education:  “Support higher education in agriculture to give the next generation of Americans the knowledge, technology, and applications necessary to enhance the competitiveness of United States agriculture.”

All of the activities relating to this objective are crosscutting in nature and reflected in the strategies and performance goals under the six ARS Goals. 

Objective 6.2:  National Agricultural Library:  “Serve as the most significant agricultural information resource for the United States.”

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

     FY 2003

     FY 2004

    AG Information & Library Services

       21,907

        20,529

        20,870

               Total

     $21,907

      $20,529

      $20,870

    FTEs

            148

            150

             154

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results in FY 2002:  Under Goal VI, 63 Indicators are aligned under 48 Performance Goals.  Several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report all accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in 58 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Five indicators involving the National Agricultural Library were not met in FY 2002 because of delays in construction and system upgrades.  All will be accomplished in FY 2003.  Seventy-three significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the activities under this initiative, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004. 

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its work.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

STRATEGY 6.2.1:  Increase awareness and use of National Agricultural Library (NAL) products and services:  Collect, organize, and provide access to information that supports agricultural programs and responds to information needs.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.1:  Maintain up-to-date data on NAL customer information needs and satisfaction.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

continue analyzing information center programs to ensure accurate focus and customer satisfaction.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Discussions with a major customer, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, and key collaborator, the University of Maryland, revealed the nutrition educator’s growing need for an online resource system to provide nutrition materials targeting low-income audiences.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Food and Nutrition Information Center created and now offers the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodstamp/index.html.  Since its launch on January 30, 2002, the Nutrition Connection has grown to feature a customized full-service Web site that includes:  a searchable database of over 180 education and training materials; the first ever portal to state Food Stamp Nutrition Education Programs; Hot Topic pages specific to issues impacting low-income audiences; and an electronic discussion group for Food Stamp Nutrition education providers.  On October 30, 2002, the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection was recognized for outstanding work in making quality Food Stamp Nutrition Education materials available and accessible, receiving a ranking of “Among the Best” by Tuft’s Nutrition Navigator – a prestigious independent rating system of nutrition Web sites.

continue to collect and combine data on reference and research information services and information centers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The NAL Invasive Species Web Project began a major redesign effort to ensure continued usability for customers.  There has been an exponential growth in the site.  Invasivespecies.gov serves as a gateway to information about invasive species, which supports the National Invasive Species Council mandate as stated in Executive Order 13112.  The site doubled in size over the last year linking to more than 6,500 unique resources.  It received nearly 1 million hits, averaging approximately 80,000 per month.  Such a large resource was increasingly difficult to manage in its current structure.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Easier to use and enriched content.  The graphical interface was redesigned to reduce confusing navigational elements, and to enhance the visibility of the National Invasive Species Council and the National Management Plan.  Data collection was initiated to analyze current customer access and usage of the Web site.  Also, Specific Cooperative Agreements were established with North Carolina State University and the University of Arizona to identify Council member information needs, beginning with USDA and professionals working to solve issues relating to Western rangeland weeds.  Collaborations were also initiated with the Universities of Arizona and Maryland to develop specific content for the site.

customize customer relationship management system and begin to collect detailed information on customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL has identified two alternatives for electronic collection of customer information and will request the resources to obtain them.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL is involved in the E-metrics project of the Association of Research Libraries, through which NAL will collaborate with other major resources for capturing information on processes and services that reflect the impact of technology on information delivery.

During FY 2003, NAL will

analyze collected information on customers for improved service.

acquire and implement an automated document delivery system to track usage data.

During FY 2004, NAL will

increase the total volume of direct customer services by at least 20 percent.

establish closer relationships with USDA agencies to increase satisfaction with information products and services.

expand automated document delivery capabilities to track usage data.

During FY 2005, NAL will

increase the total volume of direct customer services by at least 20 percent.

implement changes to better serve USDA agencies based on data collected.

analyze usage data and customize services in response.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.2:  Integrate customer data into continuous refinement of NAL operations.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

continue to reduce turnaround times for serving customers by collecting data and incorporating results into customer service operations.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL’s Document Delivery Services Branch (DDSB) identified key performance areas on the Document Delivery Services Contract to enhance data collection and analysis in order to reduce turnaround times.  This collection and analysis led to an overall response rate of 80 percent within 2 days of receipt.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reduction in turnaround times has been the primary goal of DDSB and continues to be a critical performance area.  Scientists and researchers around the world benefit from receiving the materials they request in the shortest amount of time possible.  

obtain digital resources identified in FY 2001 as needed for geographically remote customers and conduct related user education activities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  DDSB obtained and implemented the Relais Express electronic management system.  With this software, articles are scanned and delivered either to a printer for traditional printing and mailing, to the Ariel software for delivery to major libraries and institutions around the world, to a fax machine, or posted directly to the Web where a patron anywhere in the world can access it instantaneously.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The ability of DDSB to post articles directly to the Web means that patrons do not need any special proprietary software or equipment to receive the materials requested.  This eliminates the gulf between urban and remote customers, which has been widely praised by users around the world.

During FY 2003, NAL will

conduct studies to assess areas for implementation and change.

revise document delivery procedures in response to analysis of customer data.

investigate new opportunities for providing service through the information centers based on customer information needs and satisfaction.

During FY 2004, NAL will

within OMB guidelines, use the Web presence to collect customer feedback and demographic information in order to provide improved services.

expand customers’ ability to track their document delivery activity.

During FY 2005, NAL will

make changes in Web offerings to increase customer satisfaction.

analyze usage data and customize services in response.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.3:  Develop and improve NAL information delivery systems.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

continue to develop and improve its Web-based information delivery systems, including the National Agricultural Library Digital Desktop Initiative.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A new Web-based online database for announcing “Journals Indexed in AGRICOLA” (JIA) was implemented to replace the publication of annual List of Journals Indexed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Current information on journals selected for inclusion in AGRICOLA is available to customers more quickly and in a more convenient form with more access points.

identify system to expand direct patron access to items in NAL collection.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  DDSB worked with cooperators and contractors to begin developing a system and using already acquired software to manage its digitized collections and make them widely available on the Web.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Expanding the accessibility by customers to already digitized and newly digitized materials will vastly enhance the ability of scientists and researchers worldwide to perform critical activities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL implemented the Digital Desktop Library (DigiTop) prototype to assess the feasibility of delivering electronic journals, databases, and other online resources to USDA employees’ desktops worldwide.  NAL coordinated the selection, acquisition and funding mechanisms to provide content for expanding the Digital Desktop Library (DigiTop) prototype to a DigiTop pilot in FY 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Over 7,000 electronic titles have been made available to USDA employees from NAL’s Web site, bringing the most current, full-text content of materials to all USDA users without delay, and new information resources to previously underserved groups within the Department.

increase by 30 percent the total volume of services delivered to NAL customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL increased the total volume of direct customer services by more than

40 percent.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More NAL customers were supplied with more services on a 24/7 basis.

During FY 2003, NAL will

continue to develop and expand the National Agricultural Library Digital Desktop Initiative.

conduct studies to assess areas for improvement and change.

purchase system to expand direct patron access to items in NAL collection.

increase easy access and availability of services delivered to NAL customers.

increase by 20 percent the total volume of services delivered to NAL customers.

During FY 2004, NAL will continue to expand accessibility to digitized collections with an emphasis on USDA publications and manuscript collections.

During FY 2005, NAL will expand linking capabilities from bibliographic resources to full text information.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.4:  Develop an agricultural subject headings thesaurus.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

complete indexing guidelines for use of the new thesaurus in AGRICOLA indexing.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Guidelines for indexing using the new thesaurus were completed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Guidelines for consistent subject indexing will improve customers’ ability to retrieve relevant citations from AGRICOLA.

map from CAB descriptors to the new thesaurus for subject heading conversion in AGRICOLA.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Mapping from CAB descriptors to the new thesaurus was deferred until January 2003 in order to use the new 2003 edition of the NAL thesaurus during the migration of AGRICOLA to the new Voyager system.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Workload to complete the mapping is reduced by deferring to coincide with data conversion for the new system.

plan for the implementation of the new thesaurus to coincide with the installation of the new electronic library management system.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Plan was developed and will be implemented with the installation of NAL’s new electronic library management system in May 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The application of a richer set of subject terms that can be used to describe new trends appearing in agricultural information resources.

During FY 2003, NAL will

test, evaluate, and incorporate revisions to the thesaurus for indexing publications in AGRICOLA.

evaluate and incorporate revisions to the AGRICOLA indexing guidelines.

complete implementation of the new thesaurus in conjunction with the installation of the new electronic library management system.

During FY 2004, NAL will implement Web services for the NAL Thesaurus.

During FY 2005, NAL will review selected portions of the NAL Thesaurus.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.5:  Increase collaboration via AgNIC (Agriculture Network Information Center).

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

explore and develop collaborations that support inclusion of and access to non-English language materials in AgNIC.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL hosted an intern over the summer of 2002 to help translate into Spanish many of the AgNIC membership documents and meeting notes.  The coordinator began discussions for expansion of membership in several Latin American agricultural research institutes.  One AgNIC partner made progress on developing the database of electronic USDA publications.  This database will also be offered with a Spanish-language interface which will be developed by another AgNIC partner, Antonio Narro University (Saltillo, Mexico).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Inclusion of expanded Spanish language materials, resources, and information will support the need for agricultural information and research in Latin American countries, Canada, and the United States.

During FY 2003, NAL will promote the development of an expanded, distributed database structure through the AgNIC alliance.

During FY 2004, NAL will support completion of the open source AgNIC portal and content management system to provide streamlined access for developing subject resources by land grant partners and others.

During FY 2005, NAL will promote expanded participation, development, and additional non-English language resources through the AgNIC partnerships.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.6:  Develop NAL programs and services for previously underserved audiences.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

implement an innovative outreach program to improve library interaction with minority, disabled, and other underserved customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL’s Special Collections added eight American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant finding aids (indexes to the content of manuscript collections) to the NAL Web site.  In addition, NAL played a significant role in the “International Screwworm Symposium” and the “30th Anniversary Celebration of the Mexican-American Commission for the Eradication of the Screwworm” held in Tuxtla, Mexico.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Publicizing the Screwworm Eradication Collection at this international event has resulted in multiple contacts from researchers willing to donate their research and manuscript collections to NAL.  In addition, the use of the Collection has gone up dramatically as patrons around the world are made aware of this valuable material.

increase staff sensitivity and ability to serve minority, disabled, and other underserved customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Staff participated in training courses about diversity issues, including training in making Web-based information services ADA compliant.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Staff was better equipped to serve minority, disabled, and other underserved customers.

expand library orientations and training for customers in underrepresented groups.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL made presentations to the Asian-Pacific American Network in Agriculture (APANA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) 5th National Conference of African American Librarians, the Medgar Evers College (MEC) Partnership Steering Committee, and the Cooperative State Research Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Fellows.  NAL exhibited at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Education Braintrust Technology Expo and the BCALA.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The presentations and exhibits increased awareness of NAL’s resources and the ability to access them.

The CSREES Fellows expressed strong interest in having NAL conduct workshops on information resources for the University of Guam and in partnering with NAL on distance education concerns, and in working with NAL to increase representation of faculty published research results in the AGRICOLA database.

The CBC Education Braintrust forum provided training on being a cyberjournalist and information about civic activities related to education and technology, engaged decision makers in dialogue, acquired media literacy skills, and observed testimony in the Rayburn House Office Building on key issues impacting education such as school vouchers, facilities and access to computers.  The NetGeneration of Youth (NGY) is a national youth leadership initiative of the Education Technology ThinkTank (ET) that develops youth to assume leadership in the 21st century.

During FY 2003, NAL will

continue to expand and improve outreach programs to underserved audiences.

evaluate programs and services developed and implemented in prior years for underserved audiences to determine whether program goals and objectives were met.

During FY 2004, NAL will

evaluate its outreach programs and services to determine whether program goals were met.

expand the availability of non-English language translations of NAL information resources.

During FY 2005, NAL will

evaluate its outreach programs and services to determine whether program goals were met.

expand access to previously unpublished material related to specific minority audiences.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.1.7:  Support increased diversity in librarianship and information management.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

implement diversity program plan strategies to recruit and maintain minority candidates locally, regionally and nationally.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL identified several fellowship programs through which to recruit, mentor, and train minority information professionals.  NAL provided employment opportunities to minority college students that enabled participants to increase their knowledge of food and agricultural information resources and about careers in librarianship and information science.  NAL continued discussion with interagency groups, academia and professional associations to identify partnership opportunities to attract high-quality minority library and information professionals.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The ability to utilize these programs, pending receipt of funding, will improve NAL recruitment and minority professionals’ leadership development efforts.

explore innovative approaches for funding NAL minority fellowship programs that provide career opportunities for librarians and information professionals from underrepresented groups.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL continued to explore innovative approaches for funding for NAL minority fellowship program that provide career opportunities for librarians and information professionals from underrepresented groups.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The ability to utilize these programs, pending receipt of funding, will positively impact recruitment and minority professionals’ leadership development efforts.

During FY 2003, NAL will establish a two-year fellowship/scholarship position.

During FY 2004, NAL will

continue to mentor minority librarians and information professionals through professional associations, partnerships, and other leadership and career development programs.

provide a fellowship opportunity for an information professional from an underrepresented group.

continue to provide internships for high school and college students from underrepresented groups to expose them to library and information management career opportunities.

During FY 2005, NAL will continue its work with interagency groups, academia, and professional associations to implement partnerships (fellowship program) to attract high-quality library and information professionals from underrepresented groups.

STRATEGY 6.2.2:  Strengthen National Agricultural Library Operations:  Anticipate and provide information products and services, including educational programs, that enable NAL's diverse customers to identify, locate, and obtain desired information on agricultural topics.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.1:  Expand acquisition of information in all formats by NAL.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will continue to make a transition from print to electronic access.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL implemented the Digital Desktop Library (DigiTop) prototype to assess the feasibility of delivering electronic journals, databases and other online resources to USDA employees’ desktops worldwide.  NAL coordinated the selection, acquisition and funding mechanisms to provide content for expanding the Digital Desktop Library (DigiTop) prototype to a DigiTop pilot in FY 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Over 7,000 electronic titles have been made available to USDA employees from NAL’s Web site, bringing the most current, full-text content to all USDA users without delay, and new information resources to previously underserved groups within the Department.

During FY 2003, NAL will

adopt and develop standard linking mechanisms for ensuring continued access to electronic resources from AGRICOLA.

continue retrospective conversion of collection records not yet represented in AGRICOLA.

During FY 2004, NAL will continue to make a transition from print to electronic access.

During FY 2005, NAL will adopt and develop standard linking mechanisms for ensuring continued access to electronic resources from AGRICOLA.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.2:  Gain space for collection growth.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

complete conversion of the 5th floor of the NAL building from office space to a “stack” and special collections floor.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Construction was started and will be completed in June 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  No materials can be moved to the new state-of-the-art facility until construction is completed.

occupy the renovated 5th floor, thereby removing the most rare and fragile collection materials from the general stacks.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The construction on the 5th floor, will not be completed until June 2003, therefore no materials have been moved.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  There is generalized crowding and a lack of appropriate environmental controls in the areas where these materials are stored.  This will continue until construction is completed and the materials are moved.

shift the entire collection as a result, making room for collection growth to last a projected fifteen years.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The shift has not been performed and will not take place until at least FY 2005 due to the delays in construction on the 5th floor.  Selective weeding of duplicates and out-of-scope materials has been performed in order to make as much room for new materials as possible.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The stacks are “full” and materials are being shelved out of order until the 5th floor is completed and the special collections materials moved on to that floor.

During FY 2003, NAL will continue to shift the collection to make room for growth sufficient for a projected fifteen years.

During FY 2004, NAL will acquire shelving for the renovated 5th floor and initiate the movement of collections to that location.

During FY 2005, NAL will shift the entire collection, redistributing the general collection to allow for growth, following completion of the move onto the 5th floor (subject to the availability of funding).

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.3:  Preserve and secure collections. 

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

remove the most valuable materials from the general stacks and place them in an area specially designed to provide higher security.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  None of the materials that will eventually be housed on the 5th floor were moved because construction is not yet completed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The most valuable materials are already housed in a secure area so there is no immediate impact, other than crowding and lack of a proper environment.

move special collections and other material collections to the newly renovated 5th floor.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  None of the materials that will eventually be housed on the 5th floor were moved because construction is not yet completed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  None.

complete the conversion of the Agent Orange collection to a digital presentation on the Web.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The entire Agent Orange collection has been scanned and the template for Web access is in the design phase with expected completion in May 2003.  The finding aid (the index) has been completed and loaded on to the Web with a small number of full text links to other collections.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A significant increase in the number of requests related to the subject matter have been received and the publicity surrounding its availability has improved NAL’s reputation as a national archive of important manuscript collections.

continue to ensure that security surrounding special collections is appropriate.  In addition, security of the building will be readdressed to assess and correct areas of vulnerability.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL had a security assessment conducted in May 2002 as part of a contract that included all of ARS.  As a result, security upgrades will be made at NAL with appropriated funds on a Departmental contract.  Included in the contract is additional security (including cameras) of special collections.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Special collections and other areas of NAL will receive security upgrades that will further protect staff, building, and the collections.

During FY 2003, NAL will

develop a preservation policy document, which includes traditional paper-based and digital preservation.

identify specific significant projects for digital preservation, which will enhance delivery of information to users.

continue to seek ways of ensuring integrity, security, and environment of all NAL collections.

During FY 2004, NAL will

move collections requiring specialized environmental controls and the highest level of security to the renovated 5th floor.

develop a preservation policy document that includes traditional paper-based and digital preservation.

During FY 2005, NAL will

continue to digitize valuable collections to preserve and secure originals.

identify specific significant projects for digital preservation that will enhance delivery of information to users.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.4:  Increase number of AGRICOLA records.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will increase the number of records in AGRICOLA by 75,000.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The number of records added to AGRICOLA increased to over 78,000.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Access to current agricultural information resources, in print and electronic form, was increased by adding more than 4 million records to the database.

During FY 2003, NAL will increase the number of records in AGRICOLA by 65,000.

During FY 2004, NAL will increase the number of records in AGRICOLA by at least 65,000.

During FY 2005, NAL will increase the number of records in AGRICOLA by at least 65,000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.5:  Increase links to full-text electronic content in the AGRICOLA database.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will continue the implementation of AGRICOLA as the database index to ARS digital publications.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Activities involving the implementation of AGRICOLA as the database index to ARS digital publications was deferred until after the installation of the new electronic library management system in 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  No guaranteed long-term access to the published record of ARS research is in a single database.

During FY 2003, NAL will

increase links to full text electronic content in the AGRICOLA database.

ensure that more digitally preserved items are available to more remote users.

During FY 2004, NAL will implement new procedures to capture electronic versions of USDA authored articles for indexing.

During FY 2005, NAL will implement open systems linking techniques to incorporate digital objects in AGRICOLA retrieval.


PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.6:  Continue modernization of the Abraham Lincoln Building.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

complete conversion of the 5th floor from office space to a “stack” and special collections floor.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Construction was started on the 5th floor from office space to a “stack” and will be completed in June 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  When completed, the most rare and valuable treasures of the NAL Special Collections will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility, secured for future generations.

procure A&E services for office space, which is the next phase of the renovation.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL continued to focus on repair and maintenance.  Using repair and maintenance (R&M) funds, the following projects were awarded: electrical upgrade, design of sprinkler system for floors 4 and below, and design of plumbing system and restrooms.  Remaining funds were used for repair of existing equipment.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  When completed in FY 2003, the 30-year electrical system will be updated, thus preventing dangerous power surges that could destroy equipment, and lengthy power outages due to equipment not being available to fix the system.

continue to utilize R&M funds appropriated by Congress to upgrade/replace infrastructure projects.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Installing a sprinkler system for floors 4 and below will meet NARA standards to achieve archive status and protect staff and materials on these floors.  Sprinkler systems will be installed on the other floors as renovation proceeds.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Numerous problems have occurred due to the aging plumbing system.  Replacement and renovating restrooms will alleviate pressure issues.

During FY 2003, NAL will

construct and modernize the ground and first floor with Buildings and Facilities (B&F) funds.

continue to utilize R&M funds appropriated by Congress to upgrade/replace infrastructure projects.

upgrade and modernize the plumbing system and tower restrooms.

During FY 2004, NAL will

modernize the ground and first floor with B&F funds.

correct life safety issued with B&F funds.

continue sprinkler system installation using R&M funds.

continue to utilize R&M funds appropriated by Congress to maintain building functions.

continue to implement upgrades recommended by USDA security assessment.

During FY 2005, NAL will

continue the ground and first floor modernizations with B&F funds.

begin window replacements with B&F funds.

continue to utilize R&M funds appropriated by Congress to maintain building functions.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.7:  Ensure systematic upgrade of NAL equipment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will implement life cycle tracking and upgrades for all NAL computer equipment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  All workstations at NAL were upgraded to accommodate migration to the Windows 200 operating system.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  All staff and public use workstations are now capable of fully functioning when the new electronic library management system is implemented in FY 2003.

During FY 2003, NAL will evaluate and monitor computer life cycle management.

During FY 2004, NAL will evaluate and monitor computer life cycle management.

During FY 2005, NAL will evaluate and monitor computer life cycle management.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.8:  Ensure security of NAL data and equipment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will continue to evaluate and implement security measures as needed.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Established NAL Standing Security Committee to address cybersecurity, building security, and collections security.

Developed disaster recovery plans for facilities, collections, and IT infrastructure.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With established procedures in place, NAL is much less likely to suffer losses in the event of a disaster.

During FY 2003, NAL will continue to evaluate and implement security measures as needed.

During FY 2004, NAL will continue to evaluate and implement security measures as needed.

During FY 2005, NAL will continue to evaluate and implement security measures as needed.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.9:  Implement new electronic library management system with minimal disruption to NAL customers and staff/operations.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

procure an electronic library management system.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Endeavor’s Voyager library system was purchased in April 2002.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL will work with Endeavor staff to complete the migration and installation of the new system by May 2003, at which time NAL will have more integrated data to manage internal operations and an improved Web-based public access catalog for delivery of information resources to all customers.

develop system migration plans from Virginia Tech Library Systems (VTLS) to a new electronic library management system.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL developed plans for the conversion of all bibliographic, holdings, and authority data from the VTLS system to the new Voyager platform.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL will be able to bring up the new system with full functionality and no corruption of data.  This will ensure that the customers will easily and reliably locate information on NAL’s resources through the Web.

implement a new electronic library management system to provide a state-of-the-art online catalog.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Implementation planning for final installation and conversion will begin in 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL will work with Endeavor staff to complete the migration and installation of the new system by May 2003, at which time NAL will have more integrated data to manage internal operations and an improved Web-based public access catalog for delivery of information resources to all customers.

During FY 2003, NAL will continue to implement the electronic library management system to provide a state-of-the-art online catalog and maximum access to NAL collections and services.

During FY 2004, NAL will select the open URL management system for addition to the Voyager library system.

During FY 2005, NAL will enhance the library management system for federated searching of multiple databases.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.10:  Refine NAL administrative and business processes, organizational structures, and functions.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will

continue to seek opportunities to streamline administrative services.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An electrician was hired to address minor electrical issues within the building and backup the other maintenance engineer.  A facilities team was established within the administrative office to ensure that engineering/maintenance issues were addressed as a team.  An additional budget and fiscal team was established to co-ordinate support for travel, budget and accounting.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Hiring of the electrician will reduce contracting time and costs for administrative services.  Establishment of teams will ensure a more efficient organization.

implement improved disaster preparedness policies and procedures.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Developed disaster recovery plans for facilities, collections and IT infrastructure.

Developed NAL’s Continuance of Operations Plan for inclusion in the ARS COOP plan.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With established procedures in place, NAL is much less likely to suffer losses in the event of a disaster.

During FY 2003, NAL will continue to refine disaster preparedness policies and procedures.

During FY 2004, NAL will

continue to seek opportunities to streamline administrative services, such as budget and procurement.

continue to refine disaster preparedness policies and procedures.

During FY 2005, NAL will continue to refine disaster preparedness policies and procedures.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.11:  Develop NAL Intranet.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will continue expansion of Intranet functionalities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completing priorities delayed the development of a full-fledged Intranet to

FY 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL’s ability to conduct business was not significantly affected.

During FY 2003, NAL will continue expansion of Intranet functionalities.

During FY 2004, NAL will continue expansion of Intranet capabilities.

During FY 2005, NAL will continue expansion of Intranet capabilities.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.12:  Ensure equitable opportunities for NAL staff development.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will ensure that each staff member receives adequate training to support his or her function.  Staff members will also be given career enhancement opportunities, such as details, shadowing assignments, and agency leadership development programs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Various NAL staff took advantage of leadership development, career enhancement, and other various training opportunities.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Staff learned new skill that can be utilized in their current positions and for future opportunities.

During FY 2003, NAL will ensure that each staff member receives adequate training to support his or her function.  Staff members will also be given career enhancement opportunities, such as details, shadowing assignments, and agency leadership development programs.

During FY 2004, NAL will ensure that each staff member receives adequate training to support his or her function.  Staff members will also be given career enhancement opportunities such as details, shadowing assignments, and agency leadership development programs.

During FY 2005, NAL will ensure that each staff member receives adequate training to support his or her function.  Staff members will also be given career enhancement opportunities such as details, shadowing assignments, and agency leadership development programs.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.2.2.13:  Implement NAL staff succession plan.   


Indicators:

During FY 2002, NAL will provide opportunities for employees to gain leadership experience through acting, detail, and shadowing assignments, as well as attending management meetings, whenever possible.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Various NAL staff members took advantage of leadership development, career enhancement, and various other training opportunities.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Although the official succession planning process was not developed, the staff had opportunities for training.  In FY 2003, workforce planning will be a primary focus.

During FY 2003, NAL will

continue implementation of detailed staff succession plan.

provide opportunities for employees to gain leadership experience through acting, detail, and shadowing assignments, as well as attending management meetings, whenever possible.

During FY 2004, NAL will continue implementation of detailed staff succession plan.

During FY 2005, NAL will continue implementation of detailed staff succession plan.

OBJECTIVE 6.3:  Creative leadership: “Promote excellence, relevance, and recognition of agricultural research through creative leadership in management and development of resources, communications systems, and partnerships with our customers and stakeholders.”

STRATEGY 6.3.1:  Develop research agenda:  Identify ARS program priorities and core research capabilities and use them to provide leadership in developing national research agendas.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.1.1:  Annual conferences of public and private individuals are convened to discuss major researchable issues in agriculture and articulate approaches to addressing these problems.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will convene a number of programmatic workshops and conferences to ensure continuing customer/stakeholder input into the ARS research agenda.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  While the initial series of National Program Workshops were completed at the end of FY 2000, ARS has continued to convene programmatic workshops and conferences involving customers, stakeholders, and scientists to focus on new, emerging, or reemerging issues.  In FY 2002, ARS conducted 14 such workshops.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS workshops and conferences ensure the continued relevancy of the agency’s research activities.

During FY 2003, ARS will convene a number of programmatic workshops and conferences to ensure continuing customer/stakeholder input into the ARS research agenda.

During FY 2004, ARS will convene a number of programmatic workshops and conferences to ensure continuing customer/stakeholder input into the ARS research agenda.

During FY 2005, ARS will convene a number of programmatic workshops and conferences to ensure continuing customer/stakeholder input into the ARS research agenda.

STRATEGY 6.3.2:  Civil rights:  The ARS Civil Rights Staff (CRS) recognizes that systematic communication is important as a means of ensuring that its services meet the expectations and needs of its customers and stakeholders, including managers, supervisors, and employees.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.2.1:  Recommendations are implemented and processes and practices are modified as appropriate.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will monitor results of meetings for effectiveness.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS is continuing to monitor results of various informational meetings and recruitment activities organized and/or attended by the public and USDA employees to ensure that programs and opportunities are made available in the area of agricultural research.  In this regard, ARS continues to sponsor and co-sponsor international and national symposia and exhibits, attend meetings and workshops at State level and with small farmer organizations, and conducts lectures at 1890 and 1862 land-grant colleges and universities.  In addition, ARS is involved in research projects with universities related to the Navajo Nation.

One such project is a collaborative research project with Utah State University Extension Service.  In this project, ARS research chemists analyzed the water in the Navajo Nation to determine the level of calcium.  They also worked to determine the total intake of water per person.  The purpose was to assist in improving the calcium intake in the diet of the Navajo Nation to help prevent hip fractures, etc.  ARS also collected Native dishes, analyzed and added data to National Nutrition Data Base.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Information is used in various surveys to plan school lunches, to calculate calories in food, as well as fatty acid, etc.  The Navajo community has used this information to develop menus for senior centers and to reincorporate native foods back into the diet of seniors.  ARS employees have worked with Utah State University to train professionals in the Navajo senior centers in assessing glucose levels to detect people who have diabetes.  The Navajo community is learning more about USDA/ARS and nutrition and health through this research project.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Animal Disease Research Unit (ADRU) has sent a scientist to the Navajo Reservation following diagnosis of scrapie in a flock owned by Chinle High School.  In collaboration with USDA-APHIS-VS, training in live animal testing was provided to the Navajo Nation veterinarians.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This testing helped the high school comply with the APHIS flock plan so that restrictions on housing and movement of sheep were eliminated.  ADRU has subsequently supported a program conducted by the Nation's veterinarian to perform live animal testing and genetic susceptibility testing.  Sheep resistant to the disease are given special ear tags.  This program will provide assistance to the sheep-producing community and help ensure that it is able to sell sheep in markets off the reservation.

The Navajo Nation is eligible to continue participating in pilot scrapie eradication programs and is now eligible to participate in pilot programs for chronic wasting disease surveillance testing.  Eventually, the Nation should be able to perform testing in their laboratory.

ARS’ location interacts with D-Q University (DQU), which has affiliation with numerous Tribes, possibly including the Navajo.  This interaction began with participation this summer with the summer student intern program.  The interactions will likely continue between DQU and the National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Tree Fruit/Nut Crops and Grapes Unit.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue through cooperative research grants, collaborative projects, Capacity Building Grants, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU).  One such MOU research grant is, “A Model Integrated Small Farm for the United States, Caribbean and Pacific Islands.” The objective of this research is to create a model small farm that combines the strengths of traditional integrated tropical agriculture with a modern focus on niche, value-added market opportunities to produce a commercial enterprise that is an example of a profitable agribusiness.  The whole-farm system integrates aquaculture, vegetable and fruit tree production, livestock, and poultry in an enterprise grossing $100,000 annually.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The technology developed in this project will be disseminated to a large community of HBCUs and small farmers through field days, print, radio, television, and the Cooperative Extension Service to assist in strengthening their knowledge of tropical agricultural and impact the economic growth.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Beginning in FY 2002, the ARS Civil Rights Staff (CRS) established new initiatives to improve recruitment of minorities in agricultural research occupations, and to increase retention of college students for full time career opportunities.  A primary objective of this new initiative is to attract students at an early stage of their education, and to support student development in agricultural and food sciences through cooperative arrangements with educational institutions. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Team members completed negotiations with Miami Dade Community College (MDCC), Miami, Florida, to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) implementing a program of cooperation in support of the following objectives and mutual interests: 1) Provide MDCC students experiential learning opportunities in ARS research laboratories and exposure to career opportunities in ARS; 2) Develop and conduct cooperative research projects of mutual interest; 3) Facilitate outreach activities between the parties to increase MDCC student awareness and appreciation for the science of agricultural research and ARS accomplishments.  This program is ongoing.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue to monitor results of various informational meetings and recruitment activities organized and/or attended by the public and USDA employees to ensure that programs and opportunities are made available in the area of agricultural research.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to monitor results of various informational meetings and recruitment activities organized and/or attended by the public and USDA employees to ensure that programs and opportunities are made available in the area of agricultural research.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to monitor results of various informational meetings and recruitment activities organized and/or attended by the public and USDA employees to ensure that programs and opportunities are made available in the area of agricultural research.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.2.2:  ARS managers, supervisors, and employees are better informed on EEO/CR issues.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will monitor both Web pages for effectiveness and updates.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Web pages are kept up-to-date.  In addition, the ARS Civil Rights Director stresses the importance of the Department and ARS’ continued commitment to EEO/CR issues at quarterly ARS Administrator’s Council meetings.  During the Annual Resource Management Plan (ARMPS) reviews, managers and supervisors give the status reports of EEO/CR programs and initiatives in their areas.  In addition, the Area Directors identify future programs and initiatives related to this performance goal.  Documentation of the following EEO/CR initiatives continued to be required in the Annual Resource Management Plans submitted by each Area management unit:

  • Program collaborations/outreach with underserved producers/agricultural groups/minority serving institutions.
  • Activities being taken to recruit, hire, train, and promote employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Efforts and contracts with minority, women-owned, and small or disadvantaged businesses.
  • Technology transfer activities with minority, women-owned, and small and disadvantaged businesses.

The senior staffs continually emphasize the responsibility shared by each employee to ensure a professional environment that is free from discrimination and sexual harassment.  Concerted efforts are made to ensure that all employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities.  EEO posters are all current and names and phone numbers of EEO contacts at ARS Headquarters are posted in all Areas and locations/units.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS initiated recruitment objectives are based on the FY 2001 Affirmative Employment Program Report and the number of agency vacancies.  The objectives were communicated to management with the requirement to form a collective group to maximize the potential of all employees, develop a broader recruitment resource pool, and work to achieve diversity at all levels.

A team of civil rights employees has been working to analyze reports to determine areas of under representation.  Results showed underrepresented minorities.  Some recommended solutions included: providing additional funding for mentors in the Research Apprenticeship and Summer Intern programs; developing an Area-sponsored Fellowship proposal for the targeted minorities, women, and persons with disabilities; and encouraging and selecting diverse candidates for the ARS executive leadership development program – Professional Excellence and Knowledge (PEAK).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS continues to integrate EEO/CR responsibilities throughout the agency to perpetuate the EEO/CR leadership responsibilities of each research leader and assimilate EEO/CR principles into the management methodology of each management unit. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Wide distribution of the Secretary’s and ARS’ Civil Rights policies were made available using the Web site, emails, and postings on bulletin boards to ensure that all employees are made aware of the policy and their responsibilities.  New employees receive information on civil rights and diversity issues, either through presentations or paper copies in their new employee orientation packets and supervisors are asked   to certify that the employees have read the materials and are aware of these policies.  ARS employees also participated in civil rights online training this fiscal year.  Civil rights training is stressed with high importance not only to employees, but to USDA customers as well.  All employees, managers, supervisors, and contractors are required to participate in annual civil rights training.  Training allows employees and customers alike to be educated about barriers and discrimination within the workplace.  All ARS employees were provided with online civil rights annual training again in 2002.  Other training in the Area Offices included educational videos and participation in small group discussions, reading pamphlets distributed by the Department/agency, etc.  In addition, Civil Rights Staff representatives attended and make presentations at the biannual Research Leader Meetings as well as other annual meetings and training sessions. 

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to monitor both Web pages and hire a Web page specialist for continuous improvements and design.

pursue an aggressive program of facilitated training to ensure all employees are aware of applicable Federal laws, regulations, and guidelines related to the employment and treatment of ARS’ workforce.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to pursue an aggressive program of facilitated training to ensure all employees are aware of applicable Federal laws, regulations, and guidelines related to the employment and treatment of ARS’ workforce.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to pursue an aggressive program of facilitated training to ensure all employees are aware of applicable Federal laws, regulations, and guidelines related to the employment and treatment of its workforce.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.2.3:  Recommendations resulting from the agency wide on-site EEO compliance review are implemented.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will monitor the results of the implementation activities to ensure that all activities have been carried out.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS completed impartial compliance review of its EEO programs on September 30, 2001.  ARS was found to be in compliance with equal opportunity and Civil Rights employment requirements for the period reviewed – October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999, and October 1, 1999 through September 12, 2000.  All of the programs reviewed were found to be in compliance and the monitoring and evaluation systems and work environment pertaining to equal opportunity and Civil Rights employment were also in compliance, as was the handing of employment complaints.  In the seven instances of noncompliance requiring corrective actions, ARS Civil Rights Staff worked with appropriate personnel to implement corrective actions.  As of February 13, 2002, all corrected actions noted in the review were completed.

ARS continues to focus its efforts on outreach efforts for all vacancies.  In some parts of the country where Area Offices are located, recruitment and retention of minorities is challenging.  Outreach efforts are extensive and professional positions are advertised in a variety of publications not previously used.  Contacts are also made with a wide variety of recruitment sources, including minority colleges and universities, and organizations representing workers with disabilities. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Recruitment objectives were established for the first time based on the FY 2001 Affirmative Employment Program Report, availability of candidates, and number of vacancies.  The objectives were communicated to the management staff and it was advised to work as a collective group to maximize the potential of all employees, develop a broader recruitment resource pool, and work to achieve diversity at all grade levels.  One Area Office reported that 19 percent of the new hires/conversions met the recruitment goals of that Area. To achieve this goal, the Area Office promoted attendance at career fairs at minority-serving institutions that had not previously been visited by ARS employees.  As a result, one student was hired to complete a required co-op experience during the summer; summer intern positions were advertised, and students were hired.  In addition, ARS was represented for the first time at two PhD Career Fairs at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to draw attention to research vacancies in ARS, particularly in the areas of biochemistry, chemistry, and molecular biology or genetics and to broaden student’s perspectives about the scientific research being conducted in ARS.  Many students commented that they were unaware of ARS and/or the availability of jobs in ARS that were “non-agricultural degrees” positions.  ARS has a program manager who is responsible for ensuring that the agency meets its disability goals and ensure that these disabled individuals have equal access and the tools they need to perform their jobs.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to monitor the results of the implementation activities to ensure that all activities have been carried out.

institutionalize equal opportunity, equity, and diversity in all agency activities.  Women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities will be integrated into all occupational groups, grade levels, and organizational units; hold significant project, program, and senior management positions; and be in the pool of outstanding talent from which candidates are selected.

During FY 2004, ARS will

continue to monitor the results of the implementation activities to ensure that all activities have been carried out.

institutionalize equal opportunity, equity, and diversity in all agency activities.  Women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities will be integrated into all occupational groups, grade levels, and organizational units; hold significant project, program, and senior management positions; and be in the pool of outstanding talent from which candidates are selected.

During FY 2005, ARS will

continue to monitor the results of the implementation activities to ensure that all activities have been carried out

institutionalize equal opportunity, equity, and diversity in all agency activities.  Women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities will be integrated into all occupational groups, grade levels, and organizational units; hold significant project, program, and senior management positions; and be in the pool of outstanding talent from which candidates are selected.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.2.4:  A comprehensive, fully integrated system is installed to assist in analyzing workforce profiles, analyzing adverse impacts, and monitoring every aspect of discrimination complaint processing.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will evaluate the system to determine its effectiveness.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Each quarter and annually, a comprehensive Affirmative Employment Program Report analysis is conducted on the workforce profiling the agency and each of the eight Area Offices in an attempt to continuously monitor every aspect of recruitments, employments, promotions, and individuals leaving ARS.  In addition, weekly and monthly reports are provided to top management on the discrimination complaint process and a periodic analysis is conducted to determine the adverse impacts.

Using the FY 2001 Affirmative Employment Program Report, a team of civil rights employees has been working to analyze this report and other relevant reports to determine areas of under representation.   Results showed under representation of minorities in the mid and senior level positions.  Some recommended solutions included:  Providing additional funding for mentors in the Research Apprenticeship and Summer Intern programs to get more minorities in the pipeline; developing an Area-sponsored Fellowship proposal for the targeted minorities, women, and persons with disabilities; and encouraging and selecting diverse candidates for the ARS executive leadership development program – PEAK to prepare current employees to be promoted into higher level positions.

The goal of ARS is to increase the number of minorities and women entering careers in the food and agricultural sciences and retain minorities who are recruited and selected.  In order to increase outreach, ARS Area Offices promote participation in Career Fairs, briefings to secondary and post-secondary schools, serving as mentors and/or judges for science fairs, providing extensive outreach and advertising with minority based organizations when recruiting for open positions, participating in events of minority focused organizations, developing additional programs which provide ARS with the opportunity to employ candidates from underrepresented groups, increasing emphasis on recruitment of persons with disabilities, and counseling selecting officials on the benefits of less rigid selection criteria for positions and built-in safety nets (i.e., longer probationary periods for those hired under special authorities for the handicapped). 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Additional attention is being given to targeted employment of underrepresented groups through recruitment sources and preparing current employees to be promoted to higher-level positions.  ARS has promoted an African-American male to the position of Deputy Administrator, Administrative and Financial Management and hired an Asian-American male as the Director, National Agricultural Library.

During FY 2003, ARS will

analyze workforce profiles, and identify problems and barriers to upward mobility for minorities and women.

analyze the informal and formal complaints to identify systemic, reoccurring areas, and hold appropriate personnel accountable for correcting and changing behaviors.

During FY 2004, ARS will

analyze workforce profiles, and identify problems and barriers to upward mobility for minorities and women.

analyze the informal and formal complaints to identify systemic, reoccurring areas, and hold appropriate personnel accountable for correcting and changing behaviors.

During FY 2005, ARS will

analyze workforce profiles, and identify problems and barriers to upward mobility for minorities and women.

analyze the informal and formal complaints to identify systemic, reoccurring areas, and hold appropriate personnel accountable for correcting and changing behaviors.

STRATEGY 6.3.3:  Management of facilities:  Provide appropriately equipped Federal facilities required to support the research and information activities of ARS into the next century.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.3.1:  Criteria and priorities are identified.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will continue its construction, modernization, and repair and maintenance program by updating the ARS facilities modernization plan and requested funding for construction, modernization, and repair and maintenance needs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS developed a priority list of projects requiring Modernization and Construction (M&C) and Repair and Maintenance (R&M) funding.  ARS received $118,987,000 for M&C and $18,222,000 in R&M funding.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With these improved facilities, ARS scientists have available state-of-the-art facilities in which to conduct research.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue its efforts to identify Modernization and Construction (M&C) and Repair and Maintenance (R&M) funding needs by updating the ARS facilities modernization plan.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue its efforts to identify M&C and R&M funding needs by updating the ARS facilities modernization plan.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue its efforts to identify M&C and R&M funding needs by updating the ARS facilities modernization plan.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.3.2:  Priority projects are proposed for funding in ARS annual building and facility request.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will identify facilities to be modernized and constructed in accordance with mission priorities.  These projects will be forwarded to the Department for B&F funding consideration.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS forwarded to the Department a request for $297,520,000 in new B&F funding to address facility needs.  Of this amount, Congress eventually appropriated $118,987,000 for new construction and facilities modernization at priority locations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With these improved facilities, ARS scientists have available state-of-the-art facilities in which to conduct research.  In addition, the employee work environment will meet all safety and health requirements.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue to identify priority ARS building needs for consideration.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to identify priority ARS building needs for consideration.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to identify priority ARS building needs for consideration.

STRATEGY 6.3.4:  Maintenance of core research capabilities:  Develop and implement comprehensive human resource systems and other administrative and financial support systems and policies to support and enhance ARS’ core research capabilities, while maintaining the flexibility to shift research and form interdisciplinary teams to address emerging problems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.4.1:  Identify core capability requirements and develop a scientific staff to meet long-term research needs.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will continue to conduct consolidated scientist recruitment and provide orientation and training for scientists and research leaders.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An aggressive program for recruitment of scientists was continued.  In November 2002, ARS achieved the goal of 2,100 research scientists.

Thirty-five new Research Leaders attended the New Research Leader Training Program.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Core scientific capability of ARS is ensured by the continued hiring of bench research scientists.  Research Leader training provides the agency with leadership and supervisory competencies to lead and direct research programs.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue to conduct consolidated scientist recruitment and provide orientation and training for scientists and research leaders.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to conduct consolidated scientist recruitment and provide orientation and training for scientists and research leaders.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to conduct consolidated scientist recruitment and provide orientation and training for scientists and research leaders.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.4.2:  Train postdoctoral students through the ARS Research Associate Program and competitively select 10 percent each year to fill full-time positions.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will continue its Research Associate Program as a source of qualified candidates for its permanent research positions.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS employed a total of 357 postdocs.  Thirty-four of these postdocs were appointed to permanent positions through the competitive process during the fiscal year.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Research Associate Program provides a viable source of qualified candidates for ARS permanent research scientist positions.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue its Research Associate Program as a source of qualified candidates for its permanent research positions.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue its Research Associate Program as a source of qualified candidates for its permanent research positions.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue its Research Associate Program as a source of qualified candidates for its permanent research positions.

STRATEGY 6.3.5:  Provide administrative support to REE: Serve as the lead agency in providing administrative and financial management services for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) headquarters and field locations.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.5.1:  Customer and employee participation in planning processes.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will continue to review the need for revisions to the AFM Strategic Plan and seek customer, employee, and stakeholder input to the planning process.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The ARS Facilities Division (FD) solicited customer/employee/stakeholder input when developing the FD Business Plan (Administrative and Financial Management Strategic Planning Process).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The input was used by the planning process steering committee to develop Business Plan goals focused on meeting ARS needs.

During FY 2003, ARS/FD will continue to solicit customer/employee/stakeholder input when developing future Business Plans or developing or revising processes or procedures.

During FY 2004, ARS/FD will continue to solicit customer/employee/stakeholder input when developing future Business Plans or developing or revising processes or procedures.

During FY 2005, ARS/FD will continue to solicit customer/employee/stakeholder input when developing future Business Plans or developing or revising processes or procedures.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.5.2:  Strategic plan is developed and communicated to REE customers and employees.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will continue to implement the revised Strategic Plan reflecting the priorities of REE customers and employees.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Task completed.  The ARS/AFM Council adopted and implemented a revised Strategic Plan on June 1, 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.5.3:  Formal feedback is solicited from REE customers.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will conduct written customer service surveys, meet regularly with REE agency administrators, conduct customer focus group sessions, and solicit customer feedback through the AFM Web site.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A comprehensive review of AFM customer services was completed in FY 2001.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:

STRATEGY 6.3.6:  Program Excellence and Relevance:  Ensure excellence and relevance to ARS National Programs through peer reviews of research projects.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.6.1:  Panel peer reviews are conducted on all research projects before implementation and subsequently every five years.  The majority of the peer reviewers are external to ARS.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will panel peer review approximately 250 research projects.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS panel reviewed 150 projects.  (Several panels that were originally scheduled for 2002 were held over for 2003.)  The majority of reviewers are external.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Each of the associated research teams significantly improved the long-term quality of their research by obtaining input from experts in the field.

During FY 2003, ARS will panel peer review approximately 250 research projects.

During FY 2004, ARS will panel peer review approximately 250 research projects.

During FY 2005, ARS will panel peer review approximately 150 research projects.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.6.2:  Review of the productivity, quality, and impact of individual scientists is conducted as scheduled in the Research Position Evaluation System (RPES).

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will conduct RPES reviews of approximately 370 agency scientists.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  RPES panels conducted mandatory reviews of 378 research positions.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: 

Upgrade                                                      185 (48.9%)

Remain in Grade/Refer to Supergrade            192 (50.8%)

Insufficient Factual Basis                                  0 (0.0%)

Grade/Category Problem                                   1 (0.3%)

During FY 2003, ARS will conduct approximately 380 RPES reviews of research scientists.

During FY 2004, ARS will conduct approximately 460 RPES reviews of research scientists.

During FY 2005, ARS will conduct approximately 450 RPES reviews of research scientists.

STRATEGY 6.3.7:  Improve financial management: ARS/Administrative and Financial Management will support Departmental efforts to improve financial management.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.7.1:  Implement integrated management systems in USDA.

Indicators:

Reporting will begin upon issuance of Departmental evidence on the Foundation of Financial Information System (FFIS) for mandatory use by USDA agencies.

During FY 2002, ARS will

continue to work with the OCFO on the design and modification of the FFIS for use by REE.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS worked with the OCFO to successfully implement the FFIS for the REE agencies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Each REE agency is fully operational on FFIS.

continue to work with the NFC on implementing new and modernized financial systems for the REE agencies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS worked with the NFC to successfully implement the FFIS for the REE agencies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Each REE agency is fully operational on FFIS.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue to work with the OCFO on improvement and modification of the FFIS for use by REE.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue to work with the OCFO on improvement and modification of the FFIS for use by REE.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue to work with the OCFO on improvement and modification of the FFIS for use by REE.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.7.2:  Correct in a timely manner internal control deficiencies.

Indicators:

Reporting will begin upon issuance of Departmental evidence on the FFIS for mandatory use by USDA agencies.

During FY 2002, ARS will continue compliance with the FMFIA, including the timely completion of audit report recommendations and the timely correction of any FMFIA weaknesses that are identified.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS worked with the OCFO and completed its FMFIA Report and ARS addressed all audit report recommendations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  No material weaknesses were identified and ARS worked with the OCFO to correct and receive final action approval on all audit findings.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue compliance with the FMFIA, including the timely completion of audit report recommendations and the timely correction of any FMFIA weaknesses that are identified.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue compliance with the FMFIA, including the timely completion of audit report recommendations and the timely correction of any FMFIA weaknesses that are identified.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue compliance with the FMFIA, including the timely completion of audit report recommendations and the timely correction of any FMFIA weaknesses that are identified.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.7.3:  Clean and timely opinions are provided on audited financial statements.

Indicators:

Reporting will begin upon issuance of Departmental evidence on the FFIS for mandatory use by USDA agencies.

During FY 2002, ARS will prepare, review, and certify the yearly consolidated financial statements of the REE agencies as required under the Chief Financial Officers’ (CFO) Act.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS prepared and certified the yearly consolidated financial statements of the REE agencies as required by the CFO Act.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  REE agencies received a clean opinion on the consolidated financial statements from the Office of the Inspector General’s audit.

During FY 2003, ARS will prepare, review, and certify the yearly consolidated financial statements of the REE agencies as required under the CFO Act.

During FY 2004, ARS will prepare, review, and certify the yearly consolidated financial statements of the REE agencies as required under the CFO Act.

During FY 2005, ARS will prepare, review, and certify the yearly consolidated financial statements of the REE agencies as required under the CFO Act.

STRATEGY 6.3.8:  Outreach:  ARS will bring the benefits of research to underserved populations, identify barriers that prevent underserved populations from receiving and using agency-generated knowledge/technology, and increase participation of under-represented groups in agency procurement contracts.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.1:  ARS will identify and generate a comprehensive directory of organizations that serve the underserved who are potential users of ARS research.

Task completed in FY 2000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.2:  ARS will convene a national outreach workshop that will bring together representatives of underserved populations.

Task completed in November 2000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.3:  In FY 2001, each ARS Area will convene Area workshops to identify researchable issues of interest to underserved populations

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will undertake or participate in specific outreach activities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completed in FY 2001.  Responsibility now rests with Area Offices and ARS locations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.4:  In FY 2000 (using 1999 data), establish baseline data for extramural agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and Letters of Agreement with organizations serving historically underserved populations.

Baseline data for extramural agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and Letters of Agreement with organizations serving historically underserved populations was established and reported in FY 2000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.5:  In FY 2001, ARS will increase its extramural agreements to organizations which serve underserved populations by no less than 20 percent over its established (FY 1999) baseline.

Task completed in FY 2001.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.6:  In FY 2001, ARS will show an increase in the number of invitations extended to representatives of underserved populations to participate in program workshops, symposia, project/program reviews, and site/location reviews.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will demonstrate efforts to enhance participation of underserved groups in program activities.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completed in FY 2001, the eight ARS Area Offices were assigned primary responsibility for implementing the agency’s outreach initiatives.  The Area Offices and research locations organize and/or participate in a wide-range of outreach activities designed to reach those with limited resources, socially disadvantaged, and/or historically underserved populations.  These activities include, but are not limited to, targeted conferences, special field days, special tours/demonstrations, efforts to establish or expand linkages with the Section 2501 outreach directors, workshops, presentations, brochures, the development of area outreach plans, and support for special education programs.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.7:  In FY 2001, ARS will show an increase in the number of research collaborations and technology transfer activities focused on meeting the special needs of this target population.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will demonstrate increased activities in these targeted areas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completed in FY 2001.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:

through the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), expand efforts to identify groups to enhance the probability of identifying partners for commercialization of ARS technologies.  ARS will give particular emphasis to organizations concerned with minority businesses, rural development, and conservation.  A new program of targeted marketing of specific technologies will enhance the availability of information to potential partners.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  OTT spearheaded a 2-Day technology transfer workshop jointly sponsored by ARS and the Minority-Owned Business Technology Transfer Consortium.  OTT worked with various State and local groups to provide a comprehensive workshop that helped these small, minority- and women-owned businesses understand the process of accessing ARS programs and services.  The workshop was attended by business representatives from Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Texas.  OTT also met with the Advisory Board for the Florida Small Business Council, the Florida TEC Leadership Council, and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and also provided literature, PowerPoint presentations, and CD-ROMs highlighting technologies, opportunities for research partnering, and points of contact for establishing Agreements.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This workshop and meetings fulfilled Federal requirements to proactively transfer technology to the private sector, especially small and minority businesses.  It provided businesses with the opportunity to work one-on-one with the ARS staff.

During FY 2003, ARS will

demonstrate increased activities in these areas.

through the OTT, expand efforts to identify targeted groups to enhance the probability of identifying partners for help in commercializing ARS technologies.  Particular emphasis will be given to organizations concerned with minority businesses, rural development, and conservation.  A new targeted marketing program for specific technologies will enhance the availability of information to potential partners.

During FY 2004, ARS will, through OTT, expand efforts to identify targeted groups to enhance the probability of identifying partners for help in commercializing ARS technologies.  Particular emphasis will be given to organizations concerned with minority businesses, rural development, and conservation.  A new targeted marketing program for specific technologies will enhance the availability of information to potential partners.

During FY 2005, ARS will, through the OTT, expand efforts to identify targeted groups to enhance the probability of identifying partners for help in commercializing ARS technologies.  Particular emphasis will be given to organizations concerned with minority businesses, rural development, and conservation.  A new targeted marketing program for specific technologies will enhance the availability of information to potential partners.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.8:  In FY 2000, ARS will inform all senior managers and SYs of their roles and responsibilities under the outreach plan.

Task completed in FY 2000.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.9:  In FY 2001, ARS will expand access to research information by the historically underserved organizations.

Completed in FY 2001.  Responsibility now rests with Area Offices and ARS locations.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.10:  ARS will expand outreach efforts to interest underserved students in agriculture/food science.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will identify through national outreach workshops and related activities ways to involve historically underserved students in agriculture and food service.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS established and implemented an agreement with Prairie View A&M University (an 1890/HBCU institution) to provide a research and educational experience for high school junior and senior students; employed and mentored two USDA/1890 Scholars; and two research scientists were duty stationed at 1890/HBCU institutions.

A specific cooperative agreement was established with Florida A&M University to facilitate the continued development of a Science Center of Excellence with emphasis on producing career research scientists in the areas of nutrition, food science, animal sciences, plant sciences, agricultural engineering, natural resources, and aquaculture.  ARS will offer experiential learning opportunities for Science Center graduate students and further training opportunities for Science Center faculty in ARS laboratories throughout the South Atlantic Area.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was established between Miami-Dade Community College and ARS to increase the understanding of the Hispanic community about varied employment opportunities with ARS.  This will provide an opportunity to “grow our own” employees that will add diversity to the ARS workforce and increase visibility in a minority community.  This is the first agency wide MOU with a community college.

A cooperative effort with ARS at Burns, Oregon, the Burns Paiute Tribe, and the Burns/Hines School District resulted in the creation of an agricultural/natural resources program at Burns High School.  A second part of the effort involved the development of a water quality/riparian management research program on rangeland owned by the Tribe.  The Tribe has also asked ARS to provide technical assistance in the areas of resource management and education.

ARS participated in a 1-day conference entitled “Strengthening International Partnerships With Federal Agencies to Facilitate Increased Participation of 1890/HBCUs In Federal Programs” was held in September 2002 in Arlington, Virginia.  This program was endorsed and supported by the White House.  The objectives of the conference were to address ways and means by which existing relationships/partnerships between 1890s and appropriate Federal agencies with international responsibilities can be strengthened and improved; explore existing and new mechanisms/strategies for advancing relationships; increase participation of 1890s in Federal programs, and to these ends, develop a set of recommendations to present to the “President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities” for consideration and action.

Two African-American females from University of Maryland - Eastern Shore (UMES) are conducting thesis research partly funded by the Watershed-Nutrient Management Project, with two ARS scientists serving on their respective research committees.  They are part of a collaborative research project being jointly led by two ARS scientists and a researcher from UMES.

ARS provided tuition funding for four students, including two whom are attending 1890 Land Grant Universities.  Funding support was awarded competitively to promising students from the W.B. Saul High School, a Philadelphia school with a high percentage (32 percent) of African-American students, which offers an agricultural curriculum.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These are just a few examples of ARS’ outreach efforts to support students from the target populations and encourage their interest in agriculture/agricultural research.

During FY 2003, ARS will continue the effort to involve historically underserved students in agriculture and food service.

During FY 2004, ARS will continue the effort to involve historically underserved students in agriculture and food service.

During FY 2005, ARS will continue the effort to involve historically underserved students in agriculture and food service.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 6.3.8.11:  ARS will work with educational institutions and community-based organizations serving target populations to identify barriers and develop strategies to get information to underserved populations.

This responsibility has been assigned to Area Offices and ARS locations.


Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2003
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2003 (In Thousands of Dollars)
Goal I Goal II Goal III Goal IV Goal V Goal VI TOTAL
Soil, Water, andAir Sciences 780 7,084 ------ 97,708 4,022 ------ $109,594
Plant Sciences 47,653 218,928 ------ 33,856 93,641 ------ $394,078
Animal Sciences 19,185 125,702 ------ 3,058 40,000 ------ $187,945
Commodity Conversion and Delivery 115,373 64,296 ------ 3,188 2,181 ------ $85,038
Human Nutrition ------ ------ 78,253 ------ ------ ------ $78,253
Integration of Agricultural Systems 1,126 6,217 ------ 30,188 5,706 ------ $43,237
Agricultural Information and Library Services ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ 20,529 $20,529
TOTAL $184,117 $422,227 $78,253 $167,998 $145,550 $20,529 $1,018,674
FTEs 1,458 3,624 288 1,450 1,500 150 8,470
Note: Table does not include repair and maintenance of ARS facilities.

Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2004
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2004
(In Thousands of Dollars)

Goal I

Goal II

Goal III

Goal IV

Goal V

Goal VI

TOTAL

Soil, Water, and Air Sciences

787

7,153

------

103,134

4,061

------

$ 115,135

Plant Sciences

51,635

229,221

------

35,842

94,483

------

$ 411,181

Animal Sciences

22,453

117,869

------

3,396

40,371

------


$ 184,089

Commodity Conversion and Delivery

118,330

64,313

------

3,377

2,208

------


$ 188,228

Human Nutrition

------

------

80,832

------

------

------

$ 80,832

Integration of Agricultural Systems

1,128

6,232


-
-----

30,192

5,719

------


$ 43,271


Agricultural Information and Library Services

------

------

------

------

------

20,870

$ 20,870

TOTAL

$194,333

$424,788

$80,832

$175,941

$146,842

$20,870

$1,043,606

FTEs

1,486

3,698

288

1,471

1,500

154

8,600

Note: Table does not include repair and maintenance of ARS facilities.


Last Modified: 2/24/2004