2018

    August
    September 12, 2018

    Controversy and major hearings highlight the news stories coming from the capitol and circulating on social media. They draw headlines and attract attention, but other things are happening that will have major impacts on the country and on the agriculture and research communities. We are nearing the September 30 deadlines on the Farm Bill and USDA budget while at the same time having an unexpected announcement from USDA of the movement of two of their major research agencies from the DC area. These are issues on which FASS has been working to provide a voice for the science community and animal agriculture.

    The Farm Bill: Where Are We?

    The Farm Bill is moving, but there is still much to do—here is a quick look at where we stand. The Farm Bill Conference Committee held their first meeting on September 5. During that session, all 47 members of the committee made opening statements that highlighted their priorities. There was general recognition that:

    • A bill needs to be passed on time, by September 30, to provide certainty for farmers. There was also general recognition that this will require compromise; the trick will be to find the compromises that will allow the bill to pass both houses and be signed into law.
    • There is limited time to reach consensus on the bill. Several members noted that at the time of the meeting, there were 10 legislative days remaining, with many other critical issues to address.
    • There are still significant differences that need to be resolved over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), conservation funding, and support for farmers.

    There was general support for animal disease preparedness and response programs. A few members did voice support for research

    The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, so action is needed by then on a new bill or an extension of the current legislation. A complicating factor is that a potential government shutdown also looms on September 30, when the current budgets for USDA and several other agencies run out. Stay tuned for more.

    USDA Plans to Move ERS and NIFA

    On August 8, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced plans for reorganization of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Economic Research Service (ERS), currently under USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area, is to be realigned with the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) under the Office of the Secretary. Additionally, most employees of ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are to be relocated outside of the National Capital Region. USDA expects the movement of the employees outside Washington, DC, to be completed by the end of 2019. Shortly after announcing the relocation plans, USDA issued a request for expressions of interest (EOI) in hosting the headquarters and personnel for the two agencies. The original deadline for submission of applications was September 14, but it has been extended to October 15.

    Many groups from the agricultural and science communities, including FASS, as well as past agency administrators are raising significant concerns about the planned move or have come out strongly against the decision. They are asking at a minimum that there be a pause to allow input and assessment of the real impact that the proposed move would have on the ability of the agencies to fulfil their mission now and in the future.

    Individual Scientist Input on NIFA and ERS Reorganization

    USDA’s planned reorganization and relocation of ERS and NIFA are raising concerns for many because there was no opportunity for public input and no data provided to justify the changes. FASS has been active in coalition discussion of the plans. As a result, FASS and ADSA are included in several group letters asking that any action on relocation of NIFA and ERS be delayed until the short- and long-term impacts can be evaluated. Group/organizational input is good, but it is also important that individual scientists weigh in as the important stakeholders that they are on these issues.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Organic Farming Research Foundation have been active participants in discussion of the group plans. As an extension of the efforts, they teamed up to draft a letter from scientists and researchers to Congress, asking them to support sound science and agriculture research by opposing the proposed reorganization until more information is shared and until stakeholders have the opportunity for input. The link to the letter and sign-on is here. Please note that the letter is set up to be signed by scientists as an affected group of stakeholders rather than the general public so it does ask that we indicate our degrees and specialties, etc.

    I believe the letter is self-explanatory but feel free to contact Ken Olson at keolson@prodigy.net if you have any questions.

    NIFA Invites Input on Emerging Needs and Opportunities

    The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is soliciting stakeholder input on the emerging needs and opportunities in food and agricultural sciences through the “NIFA Listens: Investing in Science to Transform Lives” initiative.

    The listening sessions are opportunities to provide feedback on these questions:

    • In your field, what is the most-needed breakthrough in science/technology that would advance your agricultural enterprise?
    • When considering all of agriculture, what is the greatest challenge that should be addressed through NIFA’s research, education, and extension?
    • What is your top priority in food and agricultural research, extension, or education that NIFA should address?

    Four regional in-person listening sessions will be held:

    • Oct. 11, Hartford, Connecticut (RSVP by Thursday, Oct. 4)
    • Oct. 18, New Orleans, Louisiana (RSVP by Thursday, Oct. 11)
    • Oct. 25, Minneapolis, Minnesota (RSVP by Thursday, Oct. 18)
    • Nov. 1, Albuquerque, New Mexico (RSVP by Thursday, Oct. 25)

    The NIFA Listens website is an information hub that will be used for the sessions. Each session is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and end no later than 5 p.m. Live webcasts will be available for each session, transcribed, and made available for playback. Session attendees must register via NIFA Listens. In addition, written comments may be provided electronically through the stakeholder input form on the website or emailed to NIFAlistens@nifa.usda.gov until November 30. Feedback is welcome through any of our submission methods and will be gathered throughout the initiative.

    New NIFA Director Announced

    President Donald J. Trump recently announced his intent to appoint J. Scott Angle of Alabama to be director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in the Department of Agriculture for a term of six years. Angle received his BS in agronomy and MS in soil science at the University of Maryland. He obtained his PhD from the University of Missouri with an emphasis on soil microbiology. Angle worked for 24 years as a professor of soil science and administrator for the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station and Maryland Cooperative Extension at the University of Maryland. His work focused on heavy metals and their interaction with the environment. In 2005, he moved to Athens, Georgia, where he served as dean and director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia for 10 years. He is a fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America. He is also a Fulbright Fellow, having worked at the Rothamsted Research Experimental Station in the United Kingdom. Most recently, Angle was the president and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – August

    As noted above, there has been a great deal of activity related to the Farm Bill and other activities during the past month. We have been involved in a variety of activities related to them. We participated in conference calls on the announcement of USDA’s plans as well as coalition calls to discuss action related to the plan and other actions related to the Farm Bill. We have been involved in drafting a FASS letter and assisting with coalition letters that raise concerns about the move, support inclusion of research funding in the Farm Bill, and support the animal disease preparedness and response in the Farm Bill. Copies of the letters are available in the Science Policy area of FASS.org. We also had opportunities to provide comments on the need for funding of agricultural research and raise concern over USDA’s plans to move ERS and NIFA at two town hall meetings held by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is a member of the House Oversight Committee. Other scientists and interested persons are encouraged to speak out to their members of congress on these issues that will have long-term effects on our ability to do needed research now and in the future. The following may help:

    Suggested NIFA and ERS Talking Points

    • The interaction of NIFA administrators and program leaders with personnel from other USDA agencies as well as agencies outside of USDA such as FDA, EPA, the Department of Energy, NSF, and others is critical to planning and meeting future research needs. This is best accomplished by being located in the DC area in proximity to these agencies.
    • Interaction with stakeholders is vital to identifying research needs. This is facilitated by being located in the DC area so that stakeholders can meet with key NIFA personnel on the same visit in which they meet with personnel from other agencies.
    • No documented evidence has been provided of difficulty in filling positions at NIFA other than difficulty in obtaining authorization to fill the positions. On the other hand, the forced relocation of staff from the DC area is certain to result in the loss of significant numbers of experienced, well-qualified agency staff and support personnel, resulting in lower efficiency and productivity.
    • NIFA is a national research granting agency. To maintain the respect and trust of stakeholders and the public in the funding decisions they make, it is critical that NIFA be recognized as independent and unbiased. Their current location in DC facilitates this.
    • ERS has broadened its research portfolio to provide greater coverage of department issues and policies as well as a more integrated approach to research that includes expanded use of social sciences in the studies. Loss of key personnel and their current location near collaborators would severely limit their research in the future. Moving the organization away from REE to a more political part of USDA could also jeopardize their autonomy and the perception of their work as being that of an independent agency.

    Please contact us with questions and ideas. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. We need to work together to maintain a strong and effective national research effort.

    A reminder, you can check out the FASS SPC Webinar “The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy” by going to https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy and scrolling to and clicking on “March–FASS Science Policy Committee Webinar.” We encourage you to share the link with others who may have an interest in research.

    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
    FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    keolson@prodigy.net

    John P McNamara, PhD
    Chair, FASS SPC
    mcnamara@wsu.edu

    July
    August 8, 2018

    The Farm Bill – Where Are We?

    The Farm Bill is still moving forward, but there is still much to do. Here is a quick look at where we stand:

    House: Members of the House have left town for their August recess, but before leaving they did approve going to conference and named 47 members to serve on the Conference Committee:

    General Conferees – Agriculture Committee

    1. Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
    2. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
    3. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
    4. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
    5. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
    6. Austin Scott (R-GA)
    7. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
    8. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
    9. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
    10. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
    11. David Rouzer (R-NC)
    12. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
    13. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
    1. Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN)
    2. David Scott (D-GA)
    3. Jim Costa (D-CA)
    4. Tim Walz (D-MN)
    5. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
    6. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
    7. Filemon Vela (D-TX)
    8. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
    9. Ann Kuster (D-NH)
    10. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ)

    House Education and the Workforce Committee

    1. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
    2. Rick Allen (R-GA)
    1. Alma Adams (D-NC)

    House Energy and Commerce Committee

    1. John Shimkus (R-IL)
    2. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
    1. Paul Tonko (D-NY)

    House Financial Services Committee

    1. Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
    2. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
    1. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

    House Foreign Affairs Committee

    1. Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
    2. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
    1. Eliot Engel (D-NY)

    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

    1. Mark Walker (R-NC)
    2. James Comer (R-KY)
    1. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI)

    House Natural Resources Committee

    1. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
    2. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
    1. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)

    House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

    1. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
    2. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
    1. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

    House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

    1. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
    2. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
    1. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)

    Many members will be holding town halls and participating in other events during their break. These events provide an opportunity to speak personally to your member of Congress about the Farm Bill, the importance of research and research funding, as well as other issues you care about. Even if your member of Congress is not on the Conference Committee, they will debate and vote on the Farm Bill, so it is useful to talk with them.

    Senate: Unlike the House, the Senate will be in session for much of August. Late on July 31, they took action to move to conference the Farm Bill via a voice vote. Next up for them will be the announcement of Senate conferees who will join the 47 House members already named to the committee. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) said that nine lawmakers will serve on the panel, broken down into five Republicans and four Democrats. They should be named shortly. Reconciling competing approaches to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) promises to be the toughest task facing conference negotiators. Differences between the bills on conservation programs and subsidies will also need to be worked out. Looking at the research title, it is largely reauthorization of current programs in both bills. Two places where the Senate version differs from the House are as follows:

    • It authorizes the Genome to Phenome Initiative and includes both animal and plants. The House Bill was limited to plants.
    • It reauthorizes the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which the House version did not and it
      • provides $200 million in mandatory funds until expended, for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research;
      • requires additional stakeholder notice;
      • requires a strategic plan to be submitted to Congress

    The Chairs and Ranking Members of both the House and Senate committees have met to lay the groundwork for the Conference Committee. They have expressed optimism that they will have a bill ready for action prior to the expiration of the current law on September 30.

    Nominees for USDA Leadership Positions

    On July 31, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved two nominees, James Hubbard for USDA undersecretary for natural resources, and Dan Berkovitz to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Both nominees cleared by unanimous voice vote. Many positions remain unfilled.

    Earlier this month, the Administration nominated Dr. Scott Hutchins as chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics (REE) at the US Department of Agriculture. Hutchins currently works in industry at Corteva Agriscience as the global leader of integrated field sciences, the agriculture division of DowDuPont that was created after the corporation merged. Dr. Hutchins also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska. He is an entomologist and received his doctorate from Iowa State University. He served as past president of the Entomological Society of America.

    USDA undersecretary for REE requires Senate confirmation. A date has not yet been announced for the Hutchins’ hearing. His bio is available at https://entomology.unl.edu/faculty/hutchins.

    Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030

    A new report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

    The United States has been the world’s leading agricultural producer for many years. Today, the US food and agriculture system faces formidable challenges and will be tested as world food production must double to meet the needs of a global population expected to reach 8.6 billion by 2030. In addition, natural systems in many regions are stressed by water scarcity, increased weather variability, floods, and droughts.

    This report concludes that stresses on the U.S. food and agricultural enterprise will not be resolved if business as usual prevails. Innovation is needed to make the U.S. food and agricultural system more efficient, resilient, and sustainable. Using input from the broad scientific community, the report identifies five scientific breakthrough areas that could have the greatest positive impact on food and agriculture:

    • Transdisciplinary Research and Systems Approach
    • Sensing Technologies
    • Data Science and Agri-Food Informatics
    • Genomics and Precision Breeding
    • Microbiome

    The report also recommends investing in physical and cyber infrastructures, engaging non-agricultural professionals, and recruiting talented individuals into food and agriculture research.

    (More information and a link to the report are available here.)

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – July

    Beyond monitoring the Farm Bill and other events in Washington, DC, we have participated in a webinar to introduce the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report “Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030”; participated, via conference call, in a meeting of the Animal Ag Coalition to discuss next steps on the Farm Bill; and participated in a Congressional Town Hall to advocate for the Farm Bill. The NAS report is highlighted above; it will be valuable in advocating for research priorities and funding in the coming weeks and months. In the AAC meeting, members shared perspectives on where things stand on the bill and planned next steps. The AAC has advocated strongly for animal health programs to minimize the risk of foreign animal diseases to the domestic population. It is addressed in both versions of the bill, so it is expected to make the final bill. There are differences in funding for the program between the bills that will need to be worked out. Plans were made to continue to push this in meetings with representatives and events where they are present. Relative to the Town Hall, I live in a suburban district but had the opportunity to lift up the importance of the Farm Bill to my member of Congress and my neighbors.

    One of the things we sought to do at the ADSA Annual Meeting was to begin to develop a list of members with an interest in advocating for science policy in the future. If you are interested in being a FASS Science Policy Advocate, please e-mail the following information to Ken Olson at keolson@prodigy.net:

    We need to speak—and speak with one voice

    Dear science colleagues in all endeavors:

    I have had the opportunity over the last several months to participate in a number of agricultural, science, and communication events in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Some events have been a function of the FASS SPC and some have been from my involvement with ADSA, ASAS, and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). All of these conferences and workshops related directly to support for scientific endeavors, including agricultural science and teaching, communicating scientific issues, especially complex ones like global warming, and GMOs; and science teacher training, including agricultural/career and technical education (CTE) sciences. I have also had the opportunity to participate in a number of related events, including listening to the Senate hearing for the nomination of Sonny Perdue to Secretary of Agriculture, and webinars on the above topics. The FASS Science Policy Committee gave a webinar on the effect of agricultural funding on the overall economy.

    The list includes, in chronological order, the Senate nomination hearing for the Secretary of Agriculture; ADSA and ASAS annual meetings in 2017; meetings of the National Animal Nutrition Program, with the charge of helping support the NRC Nutrient Requirements book and support data access and sharing in animal nutrition; the Big Data Beef Cattle Genomics workshop; a visit with the leadership of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); the Science of Science Communication Colloquium from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM); several webinars on the Ag Data Library; and on the Science Breakthrough 2030 program from NASEM and National Coalition of Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR) and others; our webinar on agriculture research funding impact; the NSTA “Summit on Crafting a Strategic Vision for an Advanced Future”; NSTA Annual Meetings in Atlanta; the ADSA and ASAS annual meetings in 2018; the National Congress on Science Education; and last, a planning meeting for the NSTA Annual Teacher Conferences in 2019. In addition I had the honor of being the guest editor of the 100th anniversary papers in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, with contributions by 83 leading dairy scientists, summarizing a century (plus) of scientific progress in publicly funded research and teaching that has led to sustainability and profitability of many agricultural endeavors.

    In all of these meetings and events, concerns were voiced repeatedly and in many ways—concerns with how the present administration is attacking scientific endeavors on almost all fronts; how scientific progress leading to protection of our environment is being attacked and dismantled in specific agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Environment Protection Agency; the attack on public education by the Secretary of Education, repudiating the positive 150-year history of public education and research for the common good; the original nonsensical agriculture budget sent out by the president; the extremely damaging tariffs, especially on our positive balance of trade in agriculture; and the overall disregard for and outright attacks on science, scientific facts, and application.

    Certainly, there have been positive stories along the way: Congress has rejected the budget proposals on education and agriculture from the Trump Administration; and constant pressure in the voting booth, public dialogue, and courts is restricting much of the administration’s attack on scientific progress. In addition, the Secretary of Agriculture is very supportive of increased activity in research, especially in rural data infrastructure and, to a certain extent, in data sciences research and support.

    But we must not be satisfied that some budgets have increased, that the worst damage has not (yet) come to pass, or that the courts and legislatures have, for the most part, rejected attempts to destroy a century of progress. In addition, we must now, more than ever, “all hang together.” In our little world, that means we must communicate with our elected representatives, with our appropriate cabinet departments, and through all of our scientific, business, and support societies with one voice: “More support for agricultural, science-based research, teaching, training, and application on all fronts.” We cannot accept complacency when the country is counting on us for more and better ways to grow food and eat in a healthy and secure fashion. We must put aside our minor differences and work together through all of our societies to make the legislative and administrative bodies understand that funding and supporting science-based agricultural research, teaching, and application brings strength, security, economic gain, employment, prosperity, and a future for the next generations.

    Ken Olson has provided us with legislative contacts—please use them. You might not be able to use university resources to do this, but you have the right and responsibility as an informed citizen and member of the scientific and agricultural communities to solicit support from your legislators. Legislators want to hear positive, personal stories—as well as economic data—that resonate. For example, “we increased employment in our graduates by a strong CTE program”; “we placed 90% of our graduates in ag science/STEM/application careers”; “we kept small farmers in business by applying science-based agricultural knowledge”; “we expanded export markets by building personal relationships with customers in other countries”; “our farmers use [or need] the best technologies in plant and animal genetics, nutrition, management, and data access to stay in business.”

    Each topic above has been the subject of large efforts, workshops, courses, webinars, summits, and conferences. But we must combine them into one clear consistent message: More support of all types for all agriculture, science-based research and training. I look forward to working with you all in the coming months to keep this message going.

    If you have ideas or want to help, please contact me at mcnamara@wsu.edu. You may also contact any of the other committee members to offer, or ask for, help.

    FASS Science Policy Advocates
    Name:
    Email:

    I am interested in contacting members of Congress via (choose one)
    Writing
    Email
    Twitter
    Facebook
    Visiting
    Calling
    Letter
    Op Eds
    Blog

    As a reminder, you can check out the FASS SPC Webinar “The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy” by going to https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy and scrolling to and clicking on “March–Webinar.” We encourage you to share the link with others who may have an interest in research.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS; FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    Email: keolson@prodigy.net

    John P McNamara, PhD; Chair FASS SPC
    Email: mcnamara@wsu.edu

    June
    July 17, 2018

    The Farm Bill: Where Are We?
    The Farm Bill is moving forward. Unlike the House, the Senate, on June 28, easily passed their version of the Farm Bill. The vote was 86 to 11 in favor of the bill. Interestingly, all 11 “no” votes came from Republicans. In the House, not a single Democrat voted for their version of bill. In the Senate, the chair and ranking member of the committee worked closely together to develop a bill that could gain the 60 votes needed for passage. Looking at the research title, it is largely a reauthorization of current programs. Two places where the Senate version differs from the House version are as follows:

    1. It authorizes the Genome to Phenome Initiative and includes both animal and plants. The House bill was limited to plants.
    2. It reauthorizes the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which the House version did not, and
      • provides $200 million in mandatory funds until expended for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research,
      • requires additional stakeholder notice, and
      • requires a strategic plan to be submitted to Congress.

    The next step will be to take the competing bills to conference to work out the differences. It is anticipated that the most difficulty will come in reconciling different approaches to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In spite of a recovering economy, food insecurity remains an issue for millions. This is a major reason why SNAP is such a contentious issue. Despite the differences, there is optimism on both sides of the aisle that a bill will come out of the conference committee that can pass both houses before the end of August.

    The Bioengineered Labeling Law
    The USDA is tasked with establishing a National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard by July 29. The GMO labeling law passed by Congress mandated that the rule requiring food labels to list GMO ingredients be finalized this month, but that seems very unlikely given the volume of comments received. A total of 14,008 comments were submitted, which will need to be reviewed before the final rule is ready.

    The regulations will set the standards for what needs to be disclosed and provide companies options—either on-package or via a special code such as a QR symbol that takes users to online information. Questions that the USDA will have to resolve include whether foods containing highly refined ingredients (e.g., canola oil) will have to be labeled as well as what the label itself will look like. The USDA has proposed using "BE," for bioengineered, instead of the more widely recognized term "GMO." Proponents of the "BE" term say it is more accurate because it can be considered a catchall for different types of modified foods beyond GMOs, such as food produced using CRISPR technology. Critics, on the other hand, argue that using "BE" is "dishonest" because most consumers are not familiar with that term.

    There has been substantial debate over whether mandated labels might increase or decrease consumer aversion toward genetic engineering, so it will be interesting to see the impact as the rule is implemented. Research at the University of Vermont recently published in AAAS’s Science Advances (Kolodinsky, J., and J. L. Lusk. 2018. Mandatory labels can improve attitudes toward genetically engineered food. Science Advances 4: eaaq1413; https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaq1413) sought to help resolve this issue using a data set containing more than 7,800 observations that measured levels of opposition in a national control group compared with levels in Vermont, the only US state to have implemented mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Difference-in-difference estimates of opposition to genetically engineered food before and after mandatory labeling showed that the labeling policy led to a 19% reduction in opposition to genetically engineered food. The findings help provide insights into the psychology of consumers’ risk perceptions that can be used in communicating the benefits and risks of genetic engineering technology to the public.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – June

    A major activity during the month, beyond monitoring the Farm Bill and other events in DC, was preparation for and participation in the ADSA Annual Meeting. Science Policy Committee material and reference material on the value of agricultural research were available at the FASS booth in the exhibit hall. The committee chair and science policy coordinator were available at scheduled times and at other times throughout the meeting to visit with attendees to discuss current and future committee activities as well as congressional action related to agricultural research and funding for research. Information about the FASS SPC Webinar and a link for viewing the recording were available at various locations at the meeting. We sought to do was to begin to develop a list of members with an interest in advocating for science policy in the future. If you are interested in being a FASS science policy advocate, please email the following information to Ken Olson at keolson@prodigy.net:

    FASS Science Policy Advocates
    Name:
    Email:

    I am interested in contacting members of Congress via (choose one)
    Writing
    Email
    Twitter
    Facebook
    Visiting
    Calling
    Letter
    Op Eds
    Blog

    As a reminder, you can check out the FASS SPC Webinar “The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy” by going to https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy and scrolling to and clicking on “March–Webinar.” We encourage you to share the link with others who may have an interest in research.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS; FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    Email: keolson@prodigy.net

    John P McNamara, PhD; Chair FASS SPC
    Email: mcnamara@wsu.edu

    May
    June 6, 2018

    FASS Provides Input on the Farm Bill
    The FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) continues to work in support of animal agriculture interests in the Farm Bill. This includes individual and coalition letters to congressional leaders. The following are recent actions in this area:

    • FASS joined 115 other organizations from the food, agriculture, scientific, academic, and veterinary communities in an Animal Ag Coalition letter, to the staffs of all 100 senators as they continue work on the Senate Farm Bill, outlining recommendations for the bill. It called on Congress to establish and fully fund a permanent three-pronged program to deliver the sufficient development and timely deployment of all measures necessary to prevent, identify, and rapidly respond to the potential catastrophic impacts that an animal disease outbreak would have on our country’s food security, export markets, and overall economic stability.
    • The FASS SPC wrote to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee, encouraging the committee to include reauthorization of the important work being done through the Agricultural Genome Initiative in the Research Title of the 2018 Farm Bill and that both animals and plants be included in the initiative. The House version that was defeated included a genome initiative but it was limited to work on crops.

    Copies of both letters, as well as past ones, are available under the ”Coalition Letters” tab in the “Science Policy” section of the FASS website. Click here to find them.

    Farm Bill Update
    The 2018 Farm Bill proposal from the House Ag Committee was defeated in the full House on Friday, May 18, with a final tally of 198 yeas and 213 nays. In the end, all Democrats and a mix of moderate and conservative Republicans voted against the bill. The two major issues appeared to be changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and immigration issues. The path forward in the House remains uncertain. So far, no changes to the bill have been proposed, meaning it will likely rely entirely on GOP votes to pass, something that has not been done before. The House has until June 22 to reconsider the bill in its present form. Meanwhile, in the Senate, work continues behind the scenes. Reports are that the Ag Committee proposal may be out by the first week in June, but that remains uncertain. Their bill is certain to look much different that the House bill. The committee is crafting a bipartisan bill as this will be needed to obtain the 60 votes required for passage in the Senate.

    USDA-ERS Report on Agricultural Research Investment
    USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released a research report titled “Agricultural Research Investment and Policy Reform in High-Income Countries.” They found that investment in research is a primary driver of productivity growth in agriculture. However, in high-income countries, as agriculture’s contribution to national economies declines, many public agricultural research systems face stagnant or falling financial support while research costs continue to rise. Public spending on agricultural research and development in high-income member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a whole has fallen in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since at least 2009. At the same time, research costs have risen faster than general inflation, and accounting for rising research costs suggests that there has been no real growth in public agricultural R&D spending by high-income countries since at least 1992. At the same time, research by the private sector has assumed a larger role in food and agriculture innovation and, worldwide, the dominant share of public agricultural research has shifted from high-income to developing countries. Concurrent with this, society’s expectations of food and agricultural systems have evolved to include a broader set of issues. These forces have induced pressure to reform agricultural research policies. Lessons from research policy reforms include accommodating a larger role for private firms in conducting agricultural research, diversifying funding sources to broaden the public research agenda, and providing stronger incentives for producer-levy funding of research.
    The full report is available at https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/89114/err-249.pdf?v=43244.

    USDA Positions Filled
    We are well into the second year of this administration but many agency positions remain to be filled. A few spots at the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, were filled on Wednesday, May 23. The secretary will swear in Richard Fordyce as Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator, Carmen Rottenberg as Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) administrator, and Bruce Summers as Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administrator. There is still no word on who may be nominated to serve as chief scientist. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, ARS administrator, is currently serving as the acting chief scientist in addition to her other roles.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – May

    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator is a member of the stakeholder advisory committee for the US Dairy Forage Research Center (a USDA ARS facility) and participated in a webinar meeting of the group. The center has a small staff, but it has been impacted by the ARS hiring freeze. The partial lifting of the freeze will allow the center to fill six currently vacant spots, but five others remain open. Budget issues are a concern; $2 million is currently needed for repairs and upgrades. The center is a leader in the USDA-ARS Dairy Grand Challenge Project. Global objectives of the project include the following:

    1. Develop sustainable dairy food production systems that improve human health and well-being.
    2. Understand the GEM(S) iterative relationships among soils, forages, cows, and dairy products.
    3. Improve the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of dairy systems on a landscape scale.
    4. Identify system inefficiencies (leaks) and develop multi-disciplinary research based strategies to address them.
    5. Determine how public health related to dairy is influenced by integrated dairy production systems.

    The project is in its initial stages.

    Final plans are underway for the ADSA Annual Meeting. Stop by to see us and visit about policy and policy issues at the FASS booth in the exhibit hall.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    keolson@prodigy.net

    John P. McNamara, PhD, Chair FASS SPC
    mcnamara@wsu.edu

    April
    May 17, 2018

    USDA Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule for National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has invited public comment on the proposed rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. The standard will provide a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs. “This rulemaking presents several possible ways to determine what foods will be covered by the final rule and what the disclosure will include and look like,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We are looking for public input on a number of these key decisions before a final rule is issued later this year.” The proposed rule is open for comment for 60 days. Due to the congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended, so it is important that anyone interested file comments in a timely manner.

    Comments may now be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking portal www.regulations.gov. Comments may also be filed with the Docket Clerk, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543-South, Washington, DC 20250; Fax: (202) 690-0338.

    The deadline for comments is July 3, 2018.

    The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Law was enacted by Congress on July 29, 2016. The proposed rule was previewed in the May 3, Federal Register.

    Dr. Thomas Shanower named Acting NIFA Director
    USDA Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, Economics and Acting Chief Scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young announced that Thomas Shanower will become acting director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) until a permanent director is nominated and approved. Shanower will be replacing outgoing NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy, who officially left the post on May 5. In July, Dr. Ramaswamy will become the chief executive officer of the Redmond, Washington-based Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an organization that accredits higher education institutions in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, as well as in Canada.

    “Dr. Shanower brings more than 20 years of experience in scientific research and management, and he will maintain a steady hand at the helm of NIFA,” said Dr. Jacobs-Young. “NIFA’s support of the best and brightest scientists has resulted in groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, explore new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. We salute Dr. Ramaswamy for his tireless enthusiasm at NIFA in support of agriculture-related research and education.” (MORE)

    FASS Joins in Support of Ag Research
    FASS continues to work through coalitions to support funding for agricultural research in the Farm Bill and the FY19 budget. This includes letters to congressional leaders as well as support of testimony. The following are recent actions in this area:

    • FASS joined other members of the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis coalition, in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies strongly supporting federal investment in the FY19 budget to advance agricultural statistics and research in the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
    • FASS joined 114 other organizations from the food, agriculture, scientific, academic and veterinary communities in an Animal Ag Coalition letter, to all House offices in advance of the Ag Committee markup of the Farm Bill outlining recommendations for the bill. It called on Congress to establish and fully fund a permanent three-pronged program to deliver the sufficient development and timely deployment of all measures necessary to prevent, identify, and rapidly respond to the potential catastrophic impacts that an animal disease outbreak would have on our country’s food security, export markets, and overall economic stability.
    • FASS joined other organizations from the food, agriculture, scientific, academic, and veterinary communities in support of NC-FAR testimony relative to the FY19 Appropriations for the USDA REE Mission Area. It called for the following levels of funding:
      • Agricultural Research Service (ARS), at least $1,350,000,000
      • Economic Research Service (ERS), at least $90,000,000
      • National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), at least $180,000,000
      • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), at least $1,667,909,000
      • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at least $525,000,000

        The additional recommended increase in the NIFA total of $200 million should be provided to NIFA leadership, with the discretion to allocate such increase to other programs, including:
        • McIntire-Stennis (Research and Extension Programs), at least $40,572,000
        • 1890 Extension (Extension Activities), at least $54,500,000
        • Evans-Allen (Research and Education Programs), at least $64,732,000
        • Hatch Act (Research and Education Programs), at least $291,138,000
        • Smith-Lever (Extension Activities), at least $358,396,000

    In addition, FASS joined over 20 other scientific and animal industry groups in a coalition letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of timely re-authorization of an enhanced Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) that includes expansion of authority for conditional approval for the new animal drugs addressing serious and life-threatening unmet medical needs for major uses in major species.

    Copies of all the letters, as well as past ones, are available under the ”Coalition Letters” tab in the “Science Policy” section of the FASS website. Click here to find them.

    Farm Bill News
    The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018, meaning some type of action will be needed soon, either a new bill or an extension of the current law. Research has general bipartisan support in both chambers, but the legislation has many other areas that present challenges.

    The House Ag committee has moved their version of the bill out of committee, but in the end it had only GOP support in the committee. Committee Chair Mike Conaway hopes to move it forward for a vote in the full House by mid-May but is having challenges in gaining support from more conservative portions of the GOP delegation as well as the Democrats, making action uncertain. The Congressional Budget Office has provided their assessment of the bill. They do indicate that it may take much more time to implement some of the SNAP provisions than estimated by legislators and also that because enacting H.R. 2 would affect direct spending and revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.

    The senate side is still working on language, but Committee Chair Senator Pat Roberts has indicated that he hopes to present their version on the bill this month. Bipartisan agreement will be needed as the bill will require 60 votes to pass the full Senate.

    The upcoming mid-term elections limit the time that congress has to consider legislation and their willingness to take action on any controversial aspect of the bill.

    A New Initiative to Highlight Science
    FedByScience is a collaborative communications initiative to raise the visibility of the value of public investments in food and agricultural research. Participating universities are joining together to tell stories of compelling research with a goal of increasing funding for the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (capacity, extension, and competitive) as well as state-level research. FedByScience is directed by its Advisory Committee. SoAR provides coordination. Check it out at http://fedbyscience.org/.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – April

    NCFAR ROC and Board Meeting
    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator serves on the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR) Research Outreach Committee (ROC) and the Board. Both groups met on May 1 in Washington. A common concern raised throughout the meeting was the need to tell the story of the value and benefit of ag research, putting it in terms that both the public and legislators will understand. Several actions that seek to do this were noted:

    • As noted above, the SoAR coalition recently introduced FedByScience with communication of the value of research as its objective.
    • The NIFA Annual Report “User Inspired Research – Transforming Lives” features key stories that highlight research funded by NIFA. They also have a “Big Data” project, Ag Data Commons Beta, developed for sharing data between locations and making it more easily available.
    • The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) does this in many ways including the Science Breakthrough 2030 project.
    • NCFAR’s ROC has reached approximately 8,500 attendees over the past 13+ years through 135 “Lunch and Learn” Hill Seminars. They bring news of innovative research to Hill staff and other interested parties. Ten additional seminars are planned this year.
    • There will be an Ag Research exhibit on the Hill on June 6 with 35 or 36 exhibitors sharing stories of research with members of congress and staff.
    • The FASS webinar was highlighted, including the link to the recording. Several attendees had watched the webinar and were very complimentary about it.

    House and Senate staff provided overviews of the Farm Bill from their perspectives. All indicated support for research but also that there was no new money available for it. Both chambers hope to move legislation forward in May but recognize challenges to doing it. Concerns noted by attendees included the following:

    • The House version did not include language or funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).
    • The Farm Bill would move nutrition education for SNAP to NIFA and extension. This is a major change if implemented and would require time and funds to get it done.

    The House Ag Research Caucus was pleased to report that 88 House members had joined a letter to the Appropriations Committee in support of funding for Ag Research. This is about 30 more than last year.

    USDA Notes:

    • DHS plans to move control of the new NBAF facility at Kansas State University to USDA. This is the new foreign disease laboratory for the US that will replace the facility at Plum Island. A major concern is assuring that adequate budget to staff, equip, and maintain the facility comes with the transfer. It is to be operational in 2023.
    • The chief scientist position is still open with no nominee identified yet. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, director of ARS, is the Acting Chief Scientist.
    • ARS currently has 1,500 positions vacant. It is reported that authorization has been given for 700 of these to be filled but the very large number of vacancies will have ongoing effects.
    • Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy completed his service as director of NIFA on May 5. Dr. Thomas Shanower will begin service as acting NIFA director on May 14 as a permanent director is sought,

    The “Future of Ag REE” Summit will be held in DC on May 31 and June 1. NCFAR is partnering with the Riley Memorial Foundation and others in coordination of the summit.

    Other Meetings
    While in DC, the FASS Science Policy Coordinator met with staff of Representative Rodney Davis, who is co-chair of the House Research Caucus, and Senator Patrick Leahy, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee. I provided them information about the FASS Science Policy Committee, our webinar, and our priorities for ag research funding. I invited them to contact the FASS SPC when information or input is needed about animal research. I also visited with the CEO of NASDA and shared FASS information.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    Email: keolson@prodigy.net

    John P. McNamara, PhD, FASS SPC chair
    Email: mcnamara@wsu.edu

    March
    April 12, 2018

    The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy
    The FASS Science Policy Committee webinar "The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy" was held on Wednesday, March 28. The webinar provided a broad overview of US agriculture, the status of research funding, its importance for the future, and the need to advocate for it now and in the future. A recording of the webinar is now posted on the FASS website at https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy, making it available to those who were unable to participate in the live broadcast or who want to see all or parts of it again. Please share the link with others who have an interest in science policy. If you have questions or are interested in advocating for science, please contact John McNamara, FASS SPC Chair, m...@wsu.edu , or Ken Olson, FASS Science Policy Coordinator, k...@prodigy.net

    USDA and the Budget
    The "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018," that was signed into law last month, provided over $300 billion in additional funding over the next two years. This is divided between defense, which received the largest portion, and domestic discretionary funding, which includes agriculture. The additional funds facilitated passage of the omnibus budget bill, the "AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018" that provides funding through September 30, 2018. The bill was relatively friendly for agriculture research. Funding for USDA agencies with a research mission was significantly higher than the administration proposal and actually higher than the FY17 levels in most cases, as shown in the following table:

    FASS Joins Others in Support of Ag Research
    The FY18 federal budget was passed but we were six months into the fiscal year by the time that it became law. As the FY18 budget was slowly moving through Congress, work has been underway on the FY19 budget. FASS recently joined other science-based organizations in several coalition letters to support funding for agricultural research priorities. They include support for Section 1433 Continuing Animal Health and Disease, Food Security, and Stewardship Research, Education and Extension Programs, providing $1.35 billion in discretionary funding for the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in FY19, along with rejection of the administration's proposed funding cuts that would result in the elimination of 20 ARS facilities across the country, and supporting increased funding for AFRI. Copies of all the letters, as well as previous letters, are available under the "Coalition Letters" tab in the "Science Policy" section of the FASS website. Click here to find them.

    Farm Bill News
    The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018, meaning some type of action is needed soon, either a new bill or an extension of the current law. House and Senate committees have been working behind the scenes, but now appear to be at an impasse with no language ready for release from either house. Research is not an issue, but nutrition programs are a major area of difference. Right now, it is uncertain when action will be taken in either house. Immigration; NAFTA and other trade issues; SNAP and feeding programs, as well as ongoing concerns over the state of the farm economy are affecting Farm Bill discussions. The upcoming mid-term elections limit the time that Congress has to consider legislation and their willingness to take action on any controversial aspect of the bill.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – February

    The recent passage of the FY18 budget was positive for agricultural research but it is relatively short term as the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2018. This means it is important for FASS to be working with coalitions to push funding priorities for FY19 that include a strong commitment to research. The Farm Bill is currently at an impasse, but it requires regular monitoring as some type of action will be needed and could occur with relatively little notice. Intrigue over ongoing investigations and other major issues like trade and immigration continue to draw the attention of Congress and the public. The FASS Science Policy Coordinator continues to be in regular communication with other science and industry groups relative to progress on the Farm Bill and FY19 budget. Additional coalition letters will be forthcoming related to both issues. The recent FASS Science Policy Committee webinar was well received. We are working to increase awareness of the information it provided and encourage its use as a tool for telling the story of agriculture and advocating for research. We are also in communication with NCFAR on plans for their Annual Board Meeting and a Summit to Plan for Agriculture, Food, Health, and Natural Resource Research, Economics, Education, Extension, and Outreach. Its objective is to provide a vision for the next generation of research and education investments in agricultural and related fields. The exact date is still being determined.

    March – FASS Science Policy Committee Webinar
    March 29, 2018

    The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy

    This will be a brief, engaging overview of past accomplishments, present conditions, and future possibilities for public and private research funding on the US economy and quality of life. The USDA and other agencies have funded billions of dollars in research that has benefitted all of society, not just agriculture. The amount of public money spent on research in all aspects of agriculture is just a tiny fraction of the total invested in food production, but it has far-reaching impacts on human and animal health, the environment, and the entire US economy. Every aspect of the economy, from individual farms to local communities to foreign trade, has benefited greatly from agricultural research; however, current funding may not be adequate to rise to the challenges of present and future societal needs.

    The webinar is intended for anyone who buys or eats food, but will be of special interest to students, faculty, specialists, and anyone involved in agriculture. It will provide a brief summary of the past and present, with questions and ideas for the future. There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion at the end.

    If you need additional information please contact John McNamara: m...@wsu.edu or Ken Olson: k...@prodigy.net

    VIEW WEBINAR

    February
    March 8, 2018

    Bill Northey confirmed as USDA Undersecretary
    After a four-month delay, due to a hold placed on the nomination by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Northey was confirmed by the Senate as Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Because he was nominated to serve as Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, some additional action was required of Congress to ensure that he can serve in the new position that was created by reorganization of the USDA mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill. The new mission area prompted the realignment of several agencies under the newly named Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), the position for which Northey was confirmed; FPAC will encompass the USDA’s domestic-facing agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency. Northey’s approval is certainly a positive step in filling a leadership post at USDA and should enhance the department’s ability to work on the Farm Bill; however, many critical positions, including that of chief scientist, remain open and it is unclear when they will be filled.

    USDA and the Farm Bill Budget Situation
    After a brief early-morning shutdown on February 8, the Senate and then the House passed the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018” and it was signed into law shortly thereafter by the president. The bill provides over $300 billion in additional funding over the next two years and should avoid additional government shutdowns in the near term. It is a massive 652-page bill, and much remains to be learned about its impact, but a few of the items included are

    • An extension of borrowing authority to March 2019
    • An additional $165 billion for defense spending
    • An additional $131 billion for domestic programs
    • $90 billion for disaster relief, and
    • $10 billion for infrastructure

    Among the many additional provision included in the bill are actions to address the cotton and dairy programs. The dairy provisions are focused on the Margin Protection Program (MPP). The provisions lower the cost of coverage, expand coverage to 5 million pounds annually, and extend the time that producers will have to enroll in the program. Including the cotton and dairy actions in the budget bill is expected to make developing the next farm bill that is due by September 30 somewhat easier. While dairy was addressed in the new budget, debate may not be over. Rep. Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Ag committee, indicated that he feels the changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 are inadequate and that additional changes are needed. It is uncertain what this will mean. Immigration, NAFTA and other trade issues, SNAP and feeding programs, as well as ongoing concerns over the state of the farm economy will affect Farm Bill discussions. The upcoming mid-term elections also limit the time that Congress has to consider legislation and their willingness to take action. Stay tuned—we will continue to push for added research funding.

    Other News

    NIFA Annual Report
    In early February, the USDA’s 2017 Annual Report of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) titled User Inspired Science Transforming Lives was released. It includes examples of many NIFA-funded research, extension, and education outcomes that are useful in telling the story of how publically funded research benefits the country and the world.

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans Development Process
    The USDA and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have jointly announced a new step in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) development process. The departments are seeking public comments on their proposed priority topics and supporting scientific questions that will guide the development of the upcoming 2020–2025 edition of the DGA. Comments may be submitted through the Federal Register; the comment period will be open until March 30, 2018. The topics, supporting scientific questions, and links for submitting public comments are available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

    USDA and HHS will consider all public comments submitted in finalizing the list of topics and supporting questions to be examined in the development of the 2020–2025 DGA. After finalizing the topics and supporting questions, USDA and HHS will post a public call for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee nominations. The areas of expertise needed will be based on the final topics and supporting scientific questions, resulting in a coordinated and efficient scientific review. For more information and links, go to DietaryGuidelines.gov.

    USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum
    Now in its 94th year, the Agricultural Outlook Forum is the USDA’s largest annual meeting, attracting as many as 2,000 attendees from the United States and abroad. The forum highlights key issues and topics within the agricultural community, offering a platform for conversation among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic. While price and production forecasts for major commodities are covered widely in the farm press, there are other topics of interest. This year’s session had two segments on “Innovation in Agriculture” that provided a focus on research. One was “Building Tomorrow’s Agriculture” and the other “Livestock Reproduction Meets Modern Technology.” Speaker presentations are available on the website. To view them, browse the sessions and click on the presentation title.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – February
    Although some things are beginning to move, there has been little visible action on the Farm Bill during the past month. Intrigue over investigations and other issues continue to keep the attention of Congress. The FASS Science Policy Coordinator continues to be in regular communication with other science and industry groups relative to progress on the issues. We anticipate that additional coalition letters will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. Planning is underway with the FASS Science Policy Committee for a webinar later this spring. We are also in communication with NCFAR on plans for a Summit to Plan for Agriculture, Food, Health, and Natural Resource Research, Economics, Education, Extension, and Outreach. Its objective will be to provide a vision for the next generation of research and education investments in agricultural and related fields. The exact date is still being determined—please see below.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    E-mail: keolson@prodigy.net

    Updates from the FASS Science Policy Committee Chair

    Webinar on the impact of public and private investment in agricultural research and the US Economy
    We are finalizing the webinar on the role of public and private investment in agricultural research on the US economy and jobs. It will be broadcast Wednesday, March 28, at noon (CDT). Look for the announcement and viewing details soon! This webinar is targeted to students, faculty, specialists, anyone involved in agriculture, or anyone who buys food and provides basic information on why ag research is important to the overall economy, not just farming!

    The FASS Science Policy Committee and many other agricultural research and industry organizations provide many different forms of educational materials aimed at policy makers in state and federal government positions. These are clearly valuable but we have not focused as much on giving our end clients — the American citizen and especially those students interested in agriculture, teachers, fellow faculty members, producers, and support people the information they need to understand and to help others understand the major importance of public funding for agricultural research as well as the impact of private–public partnerships. It is not just the funding of scientists and student training in agriculture that are important, but the longstanding deep positive effect on the US and world economy and on the food security and health of the nation and world that matter.

    One group we would especially like to hear from are students and student groups in animal sciences and related departments who hope to work in agriculture or to support agricultural endeavors. Please contact the SPC chair directly at mcnamara@wsu.edu with issues, information, or concerns you would like addressed. If you work in an academic department, please let your students know about the webinar and have them write directly on any issue they would like to learn more about.

    One major need that comes up in every workshop in agriculture is ensuring the “personal capital” and building human resources as well as modern infrastructure to support agricultural research, teaching, extension, and application. Olson has detailed recent activity by the USDA on these topics, and it is heartening that the Agriculture Secretary is supportive. In the first report on improving rural America, we identified over 100 actions the federal government should consider undertaking to ensure growth in America’s heartland. We organized these solutions around five key indicators: connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technological innovation, and economic development. Taken together, these proposals create a road map to reinvigorate rural America's economy and its most precious resources, its people. Each recommendation intersects with and complements the others, but the task force found one overarching need: improved high-speed internet access. To increase access to broadband in rural areas, we must incentivize private capital investment, including the use of public–private partnerships. We must also make investment in high-speed internet infrastructure more attractive by streamlining arduous review, approval, and permitting processes.

    John P. McNamara
    FASS SPC Chair
    (509) 592-0099
    mcnamara@wsu.edu

    January
    February 12, 2018

    USDA–FDA Agreement to Bolster Coordination and Collaboration
    US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, recently announced a formal agreement aimed at making the oversight of food more efficient and effective by bolstering coordination between the two agencies. The formal agreement outlines efforts to increase interagency collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness on produce safety and biotechnology activities, while providing clarity to manufacturers.

    The FDA and the USDA have worked closely over the years to oversee the nation’s food supply. The USDA oversees the safety of most meat, poultry, fish, and certain egg products, whereas the FDA has authority over all other foods, such as dairy, seafood, produce, and packaged foods. The USDA and the FDA are partnering in many key areas, including the implementation of produce safety measures and biotechnology efforts.

    The agreement is the agencies’ newest initiative to expand those efforts and take new steps to streamline regulatory responsibilities and use government resources more efficiently to protect public health. It aims to increase clarity and efficiency and potentially reduce the number of establishments subject to the dual regulatory requirements of the USDA and the FDA. The agreement tasks both government organizations with identifying ways to streamline regulation and reduce inspection inefficiencies, while steadfastly upholding safety standards for dual-jurisdiction facilities. This can reduce costs on industry and free government resources to better target efforts to areas of risk.

    The agreement also commits the USDA and the FDA to identify ways the agencies can better align and enhance their efforts to develop regulatory approaches to biotechnology, as each agency works to fulfill commitments outlined in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products and the more recent Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. These initiatives established a vision for increasing transparency, predictability, and efficiency of the regulatory processes for biotechnology products.

    The agreement also calls for the FDA and the USDA to enhance their collaboration and cooperation on produce safety activities. The FDA is implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which shifts the food safety paradigm from one of reaction to one of prevention of foodborne illness. Under FSMA, the FDA coordinates with state or territorial government agencies, which will conduct most farm inspections under FSMA’s Produce Safety rule.

    USDA and the Farm Bill
    US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the USDA’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018 on January 24. The items have limited specificity but they do touch on each of USDA’s mission areas, including farm production and conservation; trade and foreign agricultural affairs; nutrition; marketing and regulatory programs; food safety; research, education, and economics; rural development; natural resources and environment, and management. Relative to research, education, and economics, the document says USDA will

    • Commit to a public research agenda that places the United States at the forefront of food and agriculture scientific development.
    • Develop an impact evaluation approach, including the use of industry panels, to align research priorities to invest in high priority innovation, technology, and education networks.
    • Empower public–private partnerships to leverage federal dollars and increase capacity and investments in infrastructure for modern food and agricultural science.
    • Prioritize investments in education, training, and the development of human capital to ensure a workforce capable of meeting the growing demands of food and agriculture science.
    • Develop and apply integrated advancement in technology needed to feed a growing and hungry world.

    The full four-page document is available here.

    Although the document provides initial input from USDA on their wishes for the Farm Bill, Congress is where the real action takes place. The timeframe for this is uncertain. The House Ag Committee is reported to be close to releasing their initial draft of a bill but the Senate appears to be much further away.

    Budget Situation
    After a brief three-day shutdown, the government is again operating under a continuing resolution. The current resolution expires on February 8, so either a longer-term solution or another continuing resolution will be needed by that date to prevent another shutdown. Immigration issues are a major sticking point and are reported to have House leaders preparing to try to pass another short-term fix. It should be noted that this is just for the current fiscal year that began in October. The FY 18 budget plans are even further off.

    Other News

    • New Senate Ag members: Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) have joined the Senate Agriculture Committee. Senate leaders announced that Smith, who was appointed to fill former Sen. Al Franken's seat, will be the second Minnesota senator on the panel, joining fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Fischer, a cattle rancher and former state legislator, said she was looking forward to engaging in the Farm Bill.
    • Bill Gates does agriculture: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in conjunction with Britain's Department for International Development, is making available some $174 million for scientific research aimed at increasing agricultural efficiency, according to a Reuters article.
    • Lack of top USDA posts crippling: There is still no progress in getting top USDA officials installed. A combination of hold-ups on Capitol Hill and delays by the White House to make nominations is contributing to the problem. The USDA Chief Scientist is one of the currently open positions. There is no indication when the situation will be resolved.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – January

    As noted, there has been little action on the Farm Bill or budget during the past month. The FASS Science Policy Coordinator continues to be in regular communication with other science and industry groups relative to progress on the issues. We anticipate that additional coalition letters will be forthcoming as things begin to move. Planning is underway with the FASS Science Policy Committee for a webinar later this spring. We are also in communication with NCFAR on plans for a Summit to Plan for Agriculture, Food, Health, and Natural Resource Research, Economics, Education, Extension, and Outreach. Its objective is to provide a vision for the next generation of research and education investments in agricultural and related fields. The exact date is still being determined.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    E-mail: keolson@prodigy.net
    https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy

    Updates from the FASS Science Policy Committee Chair

    Webinar on the impact of public and private investment in agricultural research.

    We are finalizing the webinar on the role of public and private investment in agricultural research on the US economy and jobs. We will announce the date/time and access information on all animal ag–related lists in late February or early March. The webinar is targeted to students, faculty, specialists, anyone involved in agriculture, or anyone who buys food — it will provide basic information on why ag research is important to the overall economy, not just farming! The FASS Science Policy Committee and many other agricultural research and industry organizations provide many forms of educational materials aimed at policy makers in state and federal government positions. These are clearly valuable but we have not focused as much on giving our end clients — the American citizen and especially students interested in agriculture, teachers, fellow faculty members, producers, and support people — the information they need to understand and to help others understand the major importance of public funding for agricultural research as well as the impact of private–public partnerships.

    As we prepare the webinar, please let us know what you would like to learn. We would especially like to hear from students and student groups in animal science and related departments who hope to work directly or indirectly in agricultural endeavors. Please contact the SPC chair directly at mcnamara@wsu.edu with issues, information, or concerns you would like addressed. If you work in an academic department, please let your students know about this webinar and have them write directly to the SPC chair on any issue they would like to learn more about.

    One major need that comes up in every workshop in agriculture is ensuring the “personal capital” and building human resources as well as modern infrastructure to support agricultural research, teaching, extension, and application. Olson has detailed recent activity by the USDA on these topics, and it is heartening that the Agriculture Secretary is supportive. In the first report on improving rural America, we identified over 100 actions the federal government should consider undertaking to ensure growth in America’s heartland. We organized these solutions around five key indicators: connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technological innovation, and economic development. Taken together, these proposals create a road map to reinvigorate rural America's economy and its most precious resources, its people. Each recommendation intersects with and complements the others, but the task force found one overarching need: improved high-speed internet access. To increase access to broadband in rural areas, we must incentivize private capital investment, including the use of public–private partnerships. We must also make investment in high-speed internet infrastructure more attractive by streamlining arduous review, approval, and permitting processes.

    2017

    December
    January 17, 2018

    During December, Congress focused on the tax package that was finally passed. It included significant cuts to some tax rates that could add over $1 trillion to the federal deficit. It is still uncertain what the full impact will be or what further action Congress may take to address the increasing debt. After a holiday break, Congress will return to try to address a long-term budget. A continuing resolution deferred needing action until January 19, 2018, and waives statutory PAYGO rules with respect to the tax legislation. Another extension may be in the offing as they seek a solution. Other issues like the Farm Bill, immigration reform, disaster relief, and the upcoming mid-term elections complicate things. Here are some recent developments of interest.

    FASS Joins Coalition Letter
    FASS joined 71 other organizations from the food, agriculture, scientific, academic, veterinary, and consumer communities in coalition letters to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi (with cc to Reps. McCarthy, Scalise, and Hoyer); Senators McConnell and Schumer (with cc to Sens. Cornyn and Durbin); House Appropriations and Ag Appropriations Chairs and Ranking Members; Senate Appropriations and Ag Appropriations Chairs and Ranking Members, urging them to substantially increase the discretionary budget cap for domestic programs and provide an allocation for the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill of 5% of the total domestic discretionary budget cap increase. A copy of the letter is on the FASS website.

    Rural Prosperity Report
    The report from the President’s Task Force on Rural Prosperity was made public just prior to President Trump’s speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The stated purpose and function of the task force, chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, has been to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life in rural America. As such it can be expected to play a role in Farm Bill discussions. It recommended goals such as achieving e-connectivity for rural America, improving quality of life, supporting a rural workforce, harnessing technological innovation, and developing the rural economy. One recommendation called for another newly created commission to ensure that various government agencies work together. The report also suggests creating an advisory council with more local expertise and appointing someone to oversee both groups. The primary place where research is addressed to some extent is in the call for harnessing technological innovation. The report discusses the need to “promote public confidence in the oversight of the products of biotechnology through clear and transparent public and diplomatic engagement.”

    Perdue turned in the report to the White House on October 21, meeting the 180-day statute created by executive order. As noted the report went public just in time for President Trump’s speech to the Farm Bureau.

    Ag Research Caucus Established
    Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D; CA-20) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R; IL-13) have joined to establish the bipartisan Congressional Agriculture Research Caucus. Panetta’s office announced the effort in a press release:

    “The caucus is dedicated to topics related to agriculture research, innovation, and mechanization efforts. As co-chairs, Reps. Panetta and Davis hope to educate and engage with their fellow Members of Congress on these issues. As Congress prepares for the 2018 Farm Bill, the Caucus will provide a platform for Reps. Panetta and Davis to elevate challenges facing agricultural producers across the country.”

    “As a representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, I believe it is of the utmost importance to equip our growers, shippers, and farmworkers with the most effective tools possible,” said Congressman Panetta. “Strategic investments in research for plant breeding, crop protections, and mechanization will support the future success of the agriculture industry while also helping to address major concerns relating to resource conservation and labor shortages. I look forward to working with Congressman Davis and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to further support our nation’s agriculture industry.”

    “By investing in agricultural research today, we will ensure U.S. agriculture remains competitive globally and continues to lead the way in food and agriculture innovation,” said Congressman Davis. “I joined Congressman Panetta to create the Agriculture Research Caucus so members of Congress have a place to highlight the importance of agricultural research in their districts across the country and come together to make it a national priority. My district is home to several major universities that are at the forefront of agricultural research critical to our state and national economies. Additionally, the potential for public–private partnership between industry and academia allows us to expand our horizon and reach new goals. I look forward to joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make agriculture research a priority.”

    The caucus currently includes 16 Democrat and 14 Republican members of the House:

    Republicans
    Democrats
    Rodney Davis* (IL)
    Jimmy Panetta* (CA)
    Dan Newhouse (WA)
    Kurt Schrader (OR)
    Ted Yoho (FL)
    Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)
    Tom Rooney (FL)
    Dave Loebsack (IA)
    Rod Blum (IA)
    Chellie Pingree (MA)
    Jody Hice (GA)
    Salud Carbajal (CA)
    Trent Kelly (MS)
    Rick Nolan (MN)
    Roger Marshall (KS)
    Sean Patrick Maloney (NY)
    Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA)
    Mark Takano (CA)
    Frank Lucas (OK)
    Pramila Jayapal (WA)
    Rick Allen (GA)
    Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
    Steve Stivers (OH)
    John Garamendi (CA)
    James Comer (KY)
    Alma Adams (NC)
    Steve King (IA)
    Tulsi Gabbard (HI)
     
    Cheri Bustos (IL)
     
    Al Lawson Jr. (FL)

    NC-FAR Meeting
    The year-end meeting of the National Coalition for Agricultural Research (NC-FAR)—one of the coalitions of which FASS is a part—was held in Washington, DC, on December 11, 2017, with about 80 participants representing a similar number of groups. Presentations that focused on Farm Bill priorities were given by

    The importance of advocating for agricultural research in the Farm Bill and the budget was stressed by all speakers and groups present. The House Ag Committee staff expressed optimism that Farm Bill language would be introduced in the first quarter of the year; alt Senate staff provided no timeline for action. Part of the NC-FAR effort will include the Lunch~N~Learn Hill Seminars that will be held with a focus on sharing information with congressional staff. Several topics were approved and additional ones will be considered. Plans are also underway for a Future of Ag Summit, “Crafting a Strategic Vision for the Future,” to be held March 21–22 in Washington, DC, followed by a March 22 Hill lunch briefing. This will be a coalition building summit designed to plan for agriculture, food, health, and natural resource research, economics, education, extension, and outreach activities for the future.

    Much of Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law Struck Down
    Much of Idaho’s “ag-gag” law, which sought to prevent animal activists from coming onto farms to shoot video, has been struck down by a 2-1 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, reports Reuters. The Circuit Court’s decision reversed a lower court ruling upholding the Idaho law, which was enacted in 2014. The Appellate Court decision did uphold a portion of the law that criminalizes making misrepresentations by anyone to obtain records of agricultural facilities or obtaining employment with the intent to cause harm. But the main tenet of the law, prohibiting videotaping on farms, was struck down as being a “classic example of a content-based restriction that cannot survive strict scrutiny,” wrote Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown. She also said the law was largely “targeted at speech and investigative journalists.”

    Ten other states have so-called ag-gag laws. It is still unclear what implications the 9th Circuit ruling will have on those laws, but it does suggest that ag-gag laws won’t stand up on constitutional grounds, says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – December

    Conversing with Partners and Planning Ahead
    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator participated in the NC-FAR meeting, a meeting of the Animal Ag Coalition (AAC), and a conference call of the National C-FAR Research Outreach Committee (ROC), and was in regular communication with other science and industry groups relative to progress on the Farm Bill, nominations, and budget issues. As noted above, we did join one coalition letter. The AAC has communicated with Congress relative to the Farm Bill, but another is letter planned to highlight priorities for the Farm Bill. During the month, we participated in the FASS Science Policy Committee meeting with initial planning for a webinar later this spring.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    e-mail: keolosn@prodigy.net
    https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy

    Updates from the FASS Chair

    As the FASS Science Policy Committee continues to move forward, we welcome two new members to replace members rotating off. We first want to extend our thanks to Brandon Nelson and Tameka Phillips, who have served this committee and FASS during a period of major transition, keeping focus on helping other people understand the role of animal agriculture research and food production in the healthy lives of US citizens and citizens of the world. Thank you, Brandon and Tameka. We are happy to welcome new members Jim Quigley and Alison Van Eenennaam.

    Jim Quigley is technical and research manager for Provimi North America in Brookville, Ohio. He leads company activities related to calf and heifer nutrition and management, including research, technical support, product development, marketing, sales, regulation, and quality assurance. Quigley is responsible, with the input of other team members, for establishing short- and long-term strategic direction related to the calf and heifer business. Before joining Provimi, Quigley was vice president and director of calf operations for APC Inc. in Ankeny, Iowa. He was responsible for sales, marketing, research, and technical activities for the Calf Operations group. Jim also served as vice president of research for Diamond V Mills and held positions as associate professor of dairy science at the University of Tennessee and dairy nutritionist at Cargill Inc. Quigley received his PhD from Virginia Tech in 1985 and BS and MS degrees from the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on dairy calf nutrition, health, and management. Quigley has published over 200 refereed journal articles and abstracts related to the nutrition and health of young calves and heifers. He has spoken throughout the world on calf management subjects and has won several awards from scientific societies for his research contributions. Quigley also maintains the website CalfNotes.com, which is recognized internationally as a source of information related to calf management.

    Alison L. Van Eenennaam is a cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, and runs the Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Laboratory. She has served on national committees such as the USDA National Advisory Committee on Biotechnology in the 21st Century (AC21) and was awarded the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. Van Eenennaam writes the Biobeef blog. She began her work in animal science as an intern at the Genetic Resources Inc. Bovine Reproduction Facility in San Marcos, Texas, in 1984. From 1991 to 1993, she worked as a livestock and dairy farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties of California. From 1998 to 2002, following the completion of her PhD degree, Van Eenennaam worked for Calgene (purchased by Monsanto Corporation in 1997) in Davis, California, first as a research scientist, and then as a project leader. She was recently selected to be on the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources Vision 2030, to help remake our approach to feeding the United States and the planet.

    Upcoming FASS SPC Activities

    Webinar on the Impact of Public–Private Investment in Agricultural Research
    The FASS Science Policy Committee and many other agricultural research and industry organizations provide many different forms of educational materials aimed at policy makers in state and federal government positions. These are clearly valuable but we have not focused as much on giving our end clientele—the American citizen and especially those students interested in agriculture, teachers, fellow faculty members, producers, and support people—the information they need to understand the major importance of public funding for agricultural research and the impact of public–private partnerships. It is not just the funding of scientists and student training in agriculture, but the longstanding deep positive effect on the US and world economy, and on the food security and health of the nation and world.

    We are preparing a webinar on this topic that we hope to release in February and we are asking all of you to contact us to let us know what you would like to learn. One group we especially would like to hear from are students and student groups in animal sciences and related departments who hope to work in agriculture or to support agricultural endeavors. Please contact the chair directly at mcnamara@wsu.edu with issues, information, or concerns you would like addressed. If you are in an academic department, please let your students know that this will be coming up and have them write directly on any issue they would like to learn more about.

    One major need that comes up in every meeting and workshop in agriculture is ensuring the “personal capital” and human resources as well as modern infrastructure needed to support agricultural research, teaching, extension, and application.

    Ken Olson has detailed recent activity by the USDA on these topics, and it is heartening that Secretary Perdue is very supportive. In the first report on improving rural America, we identified over 100 actions the federal government should consider undertaking to ensure growth in America’s heartland. These solutions are organized around five key indicators: connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technological innovation, and economic development. Taken together, these proposals create a road map to reinvigorate rural America’s economy and its most precious resource — its people. Each recommendation intersects with and complements the others, but the task force found one overarching need: improved high-speed internet access. To increase access to broadband in rural areas, we must incentivize private capital investment, including the use of public–private partnerships. We must also invest in making high-speed internet infrastructure more attractive by streamlining arduous review, approval, and permitting processes.

    November
    December 6, 2017

    During November, the ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in our elections and GOP efforts to pass a tax bill have garnered most of the attention. With the plea agreement on December 1 by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, it is certain that the Russian investigation will have an even higher profile in the media coverage and on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. In spite of this, many other issues require attention in the limited number of legislative days left this year. Here are some recent developments of interest.

    FASS Supports Preservation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
    FASS joined 119 other organizations in a coalition letter to members of Congress asking that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program be preserved. The program, established in October 2007, will forgive student loans of people who work full time in public service for a minimum of 10 years. This includes veterinarians, animal scientists, dairy scientists, equine scientists, poultry scientists, marine biologists, zoologists, animal nutritionists, epidemiologists, pathologists, ecologists, veterinary technicians, and many others working full time in eligible public-sector jobs where they promote animal health and welfare, protect public health, bolster food safety and security, and advance research and education. Federal, state, local, and tribal governments; the US military; nonprofit/tax-exempt clinics; and public educational institutions are all places of employment that would qualify. Under current law, student loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are not considered income for tax purposes. A copy of the letter is available on the FASS Science Policy site.

    Budget and Taxes
    While the Senate GOP leadership has been working to bring a tax proposal to the floor, another urgent funding issue needs to be addressed. The Continuing Resolution (CR) that currently allows the government to run expires on Friday, December 8. Without action, most government functions would shut down at that time. Reports are that House GOP leadership will seek to pass a short-term extension that would run to December 22. They hope that this would allow time for enough discussion of spending and immigration issues that a somewhat longer CR could be agreed to that would carry into the new year.

    Relative to the Senate tax proposal, it appears there have been enough changes made to bring enough GOP members onboard for it to pass. We will have to wait for Senate leadership to release the final language to see just what is included. The House passed their version earlier in November. The next step will be to find a way to bring the two plans together in a form that is acceptable to both. Obviously, this means that it is unclear yet as to what the effects will be on agriculture and agricultural research.

    USDA Nominations Lag
    It has been almost seven months since Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took office, but the USDA is still working with few members of its permanent leadership team in place. Only four of more than a dozen Senate-confirmed positions, including Perdue, have been filled. Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky, Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, and Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach are the others who are in place. There are only a few USDA nominees currently waiting for sign off, and the Senate has an extremely busy agenda over the remaining two weeks it will be in session before the holidays. Given this, it could be a few months before final votes are taken on nominations for which selections have yet to be made. Among those still waiting are the following:

    • Stephen Vaden: The nominee for general counsel who has not cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee. A markup has not been scheduled.
    • Bill Northey: The administration’s pick to head the newly created Farm Services and Conservation Mission area. He was expected to get a quick confirmation vote after the committee voted on October 19 to send his nomination to the Senate floor, but Sen. Ted Cruz still has a hold on the nomination.
    • Gregg Doud: He is awaiting a floor vote on his nomination to be US Trade Representative (USTR) chief agricultural negotiator, but he may not get anywhere soon. Sen. Jeff Flake put a hold on his nomination over the controversial seasonal produce proposal that the USTR put forward during the NAFTA 2.0 talks.
    • Michael Dourson: The pick to head the EPA's chemicals office, which oversees pesticides, has also run into trouble due to past consulting work where he pushed for legal limits far weaker than other scientists recommended for chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates.

    Other positions remaining to be filled at the USDA include the following:

    • Four undersecretary posts: Picks have not been announced for Natural Resources and the Environment; Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services; and Food Safety. The post of undersecretary for research, education and economics is also open. No frontrunners for that spot have been identified since Sam Clovis withdrew from consideration.
    • Three assistant secretary posts: The administration also has not announced selections for the assistant secretaries for Congressional Relations, Administration, or Civil Rights, and the same is true for the CFO post.

    The State of Global Nutrition
    The 2017 Global Nutrition Report was presented to members of Congress on November 29, 2017. The report presents a "grave" but hopeful message: Statistics on hunger are headed in the wrong direction, but it is hoped that solving the "large-scale and universal problem" that nutrition represents will be a catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that 193 nations agreed to in 2015. The goals include an effort to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

    "The SDGs are telling us loud and clear: We must deliver multiple goals through shared action," the report said. "Nutrition is part of that shared action. Action on nutrition is needed to achieve goals across the SDGs, and, in turn, action throughout the SDGs is needed to address the causes of malnutrition."

    How bad is the problem? Eighty-eight percent of countries for which data is available face a "serious burden" from either two or three types of malnutrition, like childhood stunting or anemia in women of reproductive age. While stats on children under the age of five who are "chronically or acutely undernourished" are improving in many countries, progress has not been fast enough to meet international goals. Now 815 million go to bed hungry compared with 777 million in 2015.

    What to do? The report called for governments and other entities to invest in nutrition in an integrated fashion, and for inequities to be considered in high-income nations as well as low and medium ones. "If we want to transform our world, for everyone, we must all stop acting in silos, remembering that people do not live in silos," the report said.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – November

    Conversing with Partners and Planning Ahead
    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator was in regular communication with other science and industry groups to assess implications of tax proposals as well as any progress on the Farm Bill and nominations. As noted above, we did join one coalition letter and another is currently under consideration. During the month, we participated in the FASS Science Policy Committee meeting. On December 5, we will participate via conference call in the National C-FAR Research Outreach Committee (ROC) meeting, where we will discuss the following:

    • 2018 Hill Seminar nominations—review and selection (first round)
    • Updates—appropriations, Farm Bill, administration appointments in REE Space, etc.
    • Preparation for December 11 board meeting—ROC Recommendations for 2018 Action Program

    The following week, we will participate in the year-end board meeting of National C-FAR and a meeting of the Animal Ag Coalition. Both will bring coalition partners together to focus on Farm Bill and budget priorities for 2018.

    For additional details contact
    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    Email: keolosn@prodigy.net
    https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy

    Updates from the Science Policy Committee Chair

    As the FASS science policy coordinator noted, while many other happenings are gaining significant attention in Washington, DC, around the country, agricultural and animal science, including research and education, continues in many exciting directions. I will provide a short summary of three related areas and links to more information; these will be covered in more depth in our upcoming Winter Webinar in early 2018.

    Research, Infrastructure and Capacity Building in "Data Sciences, Big Data, Complex Research, Integrated Sciences"
    The food and agricultural problems of the United States and ensuring food security require coordination of the research, teaching, and training of future researchers and teachers. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) continues to fund and support increased efforts in what has generally become known as “Big Data” or, more scientifically, “data sciences.” Data science(s) is a specific academic field with universities offering advanced degrees. Per Wikipedia, “Data science, also known as data-driven science, is an interdisciplinary field about scientific methods, processes, and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured, similar to data mining.”

    More specifically to agriculture, data science includes the recognition that we have and will continue to have (1) access to a century of data on all aspects of agricultural production from basic biology of corn or dairy cows; soils; weather; chemistry; physiology; nutrition; genetics; management; food chemistry and safety; human nutrition and health; and consumer purchasing—data that have already supplied knowledge to improve food security, but that also contain completely unknown information, which very well may be of great use; and (2) scientific problems, from basic cell biology to worldwide applications of plant or animal genetics to human food security, that now demand complex experimental approaches, whether in the laboratory, in silico, on farm, or in the store or household.

    NIFA is funding directed workshops and research in this area, with one recent example being the USDA Livestock High-Throughput Phenotyping and Big Data Analytics conference at the National Agriculture Library (Beltsville, MD; November 13 and 14). The meeting was organized through an NIFA meeting grant with a focus on phenotyping beef cattle, but the workshop used a variety of applications of technology. The conference focused on identifying and describing various types of technology to support research and application in the biology and on-farm production of food. Many examples were from cropping systems or other aspects of the food system. The conference presented a number of approaches to measure phenotypes using a wide variety of chemical and electrical processes, including soil chemistry, plant and tissue chemistry, water measurements, temperature measurements, and final practical outcomes. The conference description and links to most of the presentation videos can be found here.

    One more example of using an integrated, complex, data-driven approach to solving problems can be found in the recent article Nutritional and Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Removing Animals from US Agriculture (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1707322114).

    In a careful and thorough analysis, Drs. Mary Beth Hall and Robin White demonstrate that if all of US animal production “went away”—for example, on the advice of those who think that animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming—the amount of greenhouse gases would in fact increase. This is an extremely important example of using available data in a complex way to answer specific questions of international importance.

    More detail on the NIFA Programs and Approaches can be found at these links and go to specific study areas for granting opportunities: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/07/17/big-data-yields-big-opportunities-agriculture and https://nifa.usda.gov/search?keyword=data%20science&sort_by=search_api_relevance.

    The ADSA Foundation and the Journal of Dairy Science® Published a Special Issue on 100 Years of Dairy Science Research
    The first issue of the Journal of Dairy Science (JDS) was published in 1917. Since that first issue, the journal has published almost 30,000 articles and 200,000 pages. In the process, the work published in the journal has made a broad contribution to scientific knowledge and to the production of a safe and affordable food supply. To reflect on that century of research, the December issue of the journal’s 100th volume contained the ADSA Foundation Collection of 100-Year Reviews, a special 100th anniversary retrospective containing 30 focused reviews of progress in areas of research that are featured in JDS. The timelines in each review place major discoveries and events into historical context.

    The authors published in the first issue could recognize many current topics of research, but their work also laid the foundation for new fields of research they could not have foreseen. Topics unknown even 50 years ago are now standard areas for research and application. “As in all scientific fields, dairy science demonstrates the continuous loop between the initial question, the testing of the hypothesis (research), the defense and publication of the results, and the creation of new questions based on the original research. This constant cycle of scientific discovery fueled by the inborn curiosity of the human condition has led to a century of dairy science research and vast improvement in the production and processing of milk,” JDS editor-in-chief Matt Lucy said.

    “Students and researchers of the present need a solid foundation of current knowledge so that we do not repeat the past instead of creating the future. We hope that the articles themselves and the timelines become valuable resources for this purpose,” said John McNamara, guest editor for the special issue. A standalone reprint of the ADSA Foundation Collection of 100-Year Reviews is available from Elsevier for $35.00 plus the cost of shipping.

    October
    November 6, 2017

    Congress was in session during October and some actions were taken. The budget, hurricanes, and the investigation into Russian involvement in our elections garnered most of the attention. The Russian investigation continued and resulted in the first judicial actions that have been widely covered. They have also affected nominations. Funding for hurricane relief was approved, but relief efforts continue to be an area of concern, especially in Puerto Rico, where much of the island continues to be without power. Here are some recent developments of interest.

    Farm Bill Activity

    Subcommittee on Research and Technology Hearing
    The Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on November 2: Putting Food on the Table—A Review of the Importance of Agriculture Research. The subcommittee and all witnesses highlighted the value of and need for agricultural research funding.

    In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) noted that the purpose of the hearing was “... to examine federal agriculture research, including the scope, importance, value, and impact of such research. Agriculture research is a broad term that can include the study of diseases that threaten the nation’s animal agriculture industry and public health. It can also refer to research to increase and improve crop and yield production through advancements in science and technology. In other words, we rely on the research to help protect the nation from disasters, and we rely on it to help prepare us for the future, one in which agriculture research will benefit from developments in precision and automated technologies such robotics and artificial intelligence.”

    Hearing witnesses were:

    Links to the testimony are included at each witness’s name. A video recording of the hearing and additional information are available here.

    SoAR Releases Report Highlighting Ag Research
    The SoAR (Supporters of Agricultural Research) Foundation has produced a series of publications under the banner of “Retaking the Field.” The first, “Retaking the Field: The Case for a Surge in Agricultural Research,” is a collaborative report from 13 partnering universities and the SoAR Foundation that provides a compelling case to policymakers and the public for increased federal agricultural research funding by celebrating a few of the advances that have been made and exploring the untapped potential of the agriculture and food sciences.

    The second, “Retaking the Field: Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production,” is a collaborative report from 11 universities and the SoAR Foundation. It helps show ways in which scientists are solving some of the most difficult questions in food production, and it highlights research breakthroughs funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

    The third, “Retaking the Field: Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health,” is a collaborative report from 11 universities and the SoAR Foundation. It explores the success of research projects funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). They show how scientists are solving challenging and critical public health issues related to zoonotic diseases, nutrition, and food safety ranging from controlling drug-resistant bacteria to improving gut health.

    These reports indicate that China has now passed the United States in their funding for public agricultural research and development. They also raise concerns that AFRI can fund less than 25% of the project recommended through the peer-review process and that the USDA receives less than 4% of the federal non-defense R&D budget. The reports are available at http://supportagresearch.org/.

    Budget and Taxes

    Last week the House adopted the Senate version of the budget that allowed them to move on to the tax plan that can now be adopted with a simple majority vote. The budget does allow up to $1.5 trillion to be added to the deficit over the next decade to pay for tax cuts in the GOP plan. The total package will be determined later, but it instructs Energy and Natural Resources to save at least $1 billion over the next decade, cuts $473 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years. The tax plan was announced on November 2. It is unclear yet what the impacts will be on agriculture or agricultural research.

    USDA Nominations

    Important leadership spots at USDA remain open. Major news this week was that, due in large part to links to the ongoing Russia investigation, Sam Clovis has withdrawn his name from consideration to be USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics. His nomination was already in trouble, so this was not unexpected, but the nomination process must now begin again. The confirmation of Bill Northey as undersecretary for farm production and conservation has also taken an unexpected turn. Senator Ted Cruz placed a hold on the nomination, which prevents the full Senate from taking action on it. Senator Cruz has said he will keep the hold in place until the Trump administration organizes a meeting on the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is uncertain when this may happen.

    Other nominations are moving more smoothly. The Senate has confirmed Greg Ibach as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, and the Senate Finance Committee advanced to the floor the nomination of Gregory Doud to serve as chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

    Concern over EPA Action Relative to Advisory Panels

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a new rule barring scientists who receive EPA research funding from serving on the agency’s three main advisory panels: the Science Advisory Board, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), and the Board of Scientific Counselors. In a memo announcing the change, he said, “Members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of an EPA federal advisory committee be currently a recipient of EPA grants, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant. This principle shall not apply to state, tribal, or local government agency recipients of EPA grants.” No similar action was taken relative to scientists funded by organizations affected by EPA regulations. The move significantly reduces the number of individuals with appropriate expertise to advise the agency and serve on the panels, which are meant to serve as a check on policies at the agency.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – October

    Meeting with Media and Partners
    The FASS Science Policy coordinator attended World Dairy Expo and met with editors of national and regional dairy trade publications. All were supportive of agricultural research as it provides the basis for much of the news reported in their publications. Moving forward, they are interested in helping to encourage support for research funding. While at the expo, he also visited with Kathryn VandenBosch, dean and director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about the Farm Bill, research funding, and possible future collaboration on these issues. The FASS Science Policy coordinator also attended a seminar titled “Consumer and Public Perceptions of the US Dairy Industry: Implications for Practices, Policy and Market Demand” presented by Christopher Wolf, professor, Michigan State University. Wolf’s work focuses on the effect of public policy on farm behavior and financial outcome, especially on issues of current and future importance to policymakers and industry decision-makers.

    Later in the month, the coordinator participated in the annual meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA). While there, he discussed 2018 Farm Bill and FY18 budget priorities with staff from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as well as state and federal animal health officials. All have strong interest in assuring an adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank as well as funding for animal health research. During the meeting, USAHA passed a resolution urging support of federal funding for an FMD vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and state programs for the prevention of foreign animal disease.

    September
    October 10, 2017

    Congress was back in session in September. There was activity, but health care, hurricanes, and the investigation into Russian involvement in our elections captured most of the attention. Health care legislation died, but it is unlikely to go away. The Russian investigation can be expected to continue to raise headlines periodically in the coming weeks, so it too is unlikely to go away. Hurricane relief fits with other issues of interest and may be used in an effort to move other legislation forward. Here are some recent developments:

    Hurricane Damage and Relief
    The country has never been hit with three major hurricanes so close together before. Reporting is focused on the loss of life and the impact on people’s lives due to loss of homes, access to water, food, medical care, power and other necessities of life. We are now starting to hear more about the impact of the hurricanes on agriculture.

    In Texas, no official estimate has been given on the number of cows, horses, and other livestock that died as a result of Hurricane Harvey, but farmers and ranchers report the final count is likely in the thousands; the 54 counties that bore the storm’s brunt are home to about 1.2 million cattle, a quarter of the state’s total.

    Florida’s senators have urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to approve disaster aid “as quickly as possible” so that farmers and affected communities can rebuild. They noted that nearly all agricultural operations, including citrus, sugarcane, and dairy, across the state suffered “intense damage” from Hurricane Irma. Two weeks after Irma battered through the peninsula, growers in affected areas are still trying to figure out how they will deal with the damages. The Florida Farm Bureau estimates that 60 to 70% of the state’s crops were destroyed, causing a potential economic loss of billions of dollars for the state's agriculture industry.

    Less than a week after Hurricane Maria battered through Puerto Rico, the island lost an estimated 80% of its crops, according to Carlos Flores Ortega, secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture. Plantain and coffee crops were dealt the largest blow, but all agriculture, including dairy livestock, suffered major losses. Puerto Rican Department of Agriculture preliminary figures estimate a $780 million loss in agriculture yields. According to NPR, dairy farmers in Puerto Rico, who make up a large portion of the island's agricultural output, are scrambling to get their operations back together in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. "They have found cows all over the place, and they're still looking," said one farmer, who used to have 670 cows. He's been able to locate only about a quarter of his herd.

    FY 18 Budget
    Senate Republicans released their 2018 budget blueprint Friday, which includes two potentially key items for agriculture. First, it clears the way for a tax overhaul that is likely to have only GOP support, and second, it gives flexibility to lawmakers when setting spending amounts for the 2018 Farm Bill. Details are short; however, independent estimates found that it might allow tax writers to add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. The Senate measure includes $1 billion in savings over 10 years, as opposed to the $203 billion in mandatory cuts laid out by the White House earlier this year. What's next? The House version was introduced in July, but it has yet to go to the floor for a vote because of disagreements between Republicans over how much should be cut. The House measure includes about $10 billion in cuts over the next decade to Farm Bill programs. As noted, there is still a long way to go before a budget is passed and signed. The potential impact on research is still unknown.

    Tax Reform
    With health care off the table for now, the focus has moved to tax reform. Basic blueprints have been floated, but details are limited and currently appear fluid. Groups are weighing in with their wants and concerns, but it is far from certain what will emerge.

    Farm Bill
    Discussions continue in many venues over the shape of the Farm Bill, which includes both old and new players in the arena. There are few areas of agreement, but in general, there appears to be a desire to not cut food aid or conservation programs and to support agriculture research and technology. A positive in advocating for ag research occurred when it was announced that American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall is joining the board of directors for the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, a move that adds the clout of the nation’s largest farmer organization to the group's push to increase funding for research in the 2018 Farm Bill. “Agricultural research and investment have given American farmers and ranchers a firm foundation to battle the challenges of the twenty-first century,” Duvall said in a statement. “The Farm Bureau clearly supports ongoing efforts to elevate food, agricultural, and natural resources research as a national priority.”

    One item of note for the Senate Ag Committee is that the GOP primary runoff in Alabama creates an opening on the committee because Senator Luther Strange is a current member of the committee. It may not have direct effects on the committee, but other senators may be concerned about potential primary challenges.

    USDA Appointments
    Action to fill vacancies in USDA leadership positions continues to move slowly. On September 19, Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney were cleared as part of a large number of nominations approved by voice vote en bloc by the Senate, a day after the two were advanced by the Agriculture Committee. Censky, former CEO of the American Soybean Association, will serve as the deputy agriculture secretary, and Ted McKinney, former director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, fills the newly created position of undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs.

    The Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing on Thursday, October 5, to consider Greg Ibach, nominated to be undersecretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs, and Bill Northey, of Iowa, to be undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services. It is expected that the committee will hold a markup on the nominees shortly after returning from recess on October 16 and send the nominations forward for a final vote as soon as possible after that.

    On other nominations, Senator Stabenow, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, said she could not support Sam Clovis to be the USDA’s chief scientist. She said, “Since day one, I've been concerned that Sam Clovis is not qualified to lead the important science and research arm of the USDA.” It is still uncertain if or when his nomination will be considered.

    In another move affecting staff at the USDA, Ann Bartuska, the acting deputy undersecretary for research, education, and economics at USDA, will join Resources for the Future (RFF) as vice president for its new land, water, and nature program, the group announced. Bartuska will help run a program that aims to “deliver research and solutions for cost-effectively managing key land, water, and marine resources that support a thriving economy and society, while ensuring healthy and productive natural systems and building resilience in a changing climate,” the organization said.

    New Land-Grant Center
    West Virginia University in Morgantown opened a new academic center on September 28 focused on the nation's land-grant colleges and universities. The Center for the Future of Land-Grant Education will be a hub for researchers aimed at providing accessible public higher education. It arrives in an era of decreased public funding and persistent disconnect between higher education and the public, the university said.

    It will be led by Nathan M. Sorber, a land-grant-movement scholar and coordinator of the university's higher education administration program. Each state has at least one land-grant school as part of a system established by Congress in the 19th century to bolster agricultural and technical education to a broader portion of the population. Learn more about the center here.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – September

    Evidence-Based Policy
    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator participated in a Farm Foundation Forum, examining specific issues and challenges facing agricultural innovation in the United States. Panelists at the forum were Ken Ash and Catherine Moreddu, both of the OECD, and Margaret Ziegler of Global Harvest Initiative. The issues identified were not unusual. They included food safety, quality, and availability; animal welfare; sustainability; and environmental issues, including water and greenhouse gases.

    Relative to the Farm Bill, panelists noted that in the current environment, more money is not likely, so there is a need to focus on how to make the best, most effective use of what is available. Looking at existing practices, technology can reduce greenhouse gas production by animals. It is important for research to focus on enhanced productivity as that generally reduces gases.

    The speakers observed that farm/commodity groups give good lip service to research but, in the end, their focus/push is on commodity programs. Universities provide the scientists needed by academia and industry for the future. Private sector support is important and needed, but it is important for universities and scientists to speak to legislators and the public about the importance of funding research.

    FASS Science Policy Rep Named to NC-FAR Board
    Dr. Ken Olson, FASS Science Policy representative, was recently named to the board of directors of National C-FAR, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based and customer-led coalition that brings food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and natural resource stakeholders together with the food and agriculture research community. Through education and outreach efforts, National C-FAR is seeking to sustain and enhance federal funding for food and agricultural research, extension, and education to help bring about research outcomes that provide a range of major public benefits. FASS is a longtime member of National C-FAR.

    For additional details contact
    Ken Olson Ph.D., PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    Email: keolosn@prodigy.net
    https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy

    Update from the FASS Science Policy Committee Chair

    For those interested in learning how to increase agricultural productivity and influence priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill, it is educational to read the recent National Geographic article on agricultural production in the Netherlands, including the research/production cooperation between producers, consumers, and Wageningen University. Their intense focus on efficiency has yielded real-world practices that could easily be adapted in large segments of agriculture in the United States. This type of research, especially the academic/business partnerships to speed implementation and benefit to producers and consumers, could dramatically improve nutritional security in the United States.

    Be on the lookout for announcements in agricultural list serves, publications, and online notices for two webinars that the FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) is working on, one likely to be presented between Thanksgiving and Christmas and one after the holidays in mid to late January. They are aimed at academics, producers, consumers, and decision makers. The first topic is the impact of public/private partnerships in research on productivity in animal agriculture, and the second is the role of animal products in the human diet. We hope that these can be used in Farm Bill discussions and in college classes and extension seminars across the United States.

    The chair of the FASS SPC will be attending two separate and relevant workshops in Washington, DC, in November that have implications for animal agriculture research and practice.

    The first is titled “Livestock High-Throughput Phenotyping and Big Data Analytics (Livestock HTP and Big Data),” being held by USDA and NIFA as part of their continuing effort to support integrative sciences through the FACT (Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools) program for planning and conducting research. The chair will report to the committee and membership on this very relevant priority for animal agricultural research, integrating across animal disciplines (genetics, disease, nutrition) as well as plant and cropping systems, consumer needs and preferences, and overall profitability and sustainability. This workshop is part of the larger effort by USDA and NIFA to fund integrative sciences to improve nutritional security for the US population: NIFA Introduces New Vision for Data Science in Agriculture | National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

    For information on this workshop, click here.

    The second event is The Science of Science Communication III (SSCIII) by The National Academy of Sciences. This workshop contains many relevant speakers and working groups to help individuals and organizations better communicate evidence-based science to any audience. Clearly, in animal agriculture there is no shortage of need for that aspect of research and education. The chair hopes that this information will help the SPC to continue and improve our efforts to increase support of animal agriculture, agricultural research and education, and nutritional security. More information on this program and workshop can be found here.

    For additional details and input on the FASS Science Policy Committee, please contact the FASS SPC chair, John P. McNamara, at 509-592-0099 or mcnamara@wsu.edu.

    August
    September 7, 2017

    Most members of Congress and their staff leave town during August for the summer break. This means that there is no legislative action, but some things are happening in preparation for the upcoming action. Here are some recent developments.

    Congress Returns to a Large Workload

    While Congress was not in session, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and the Gulf Coast, resulting in major damage and subsequent calls for large federal outlays to aid in the recovery. Action is expected to move quickly as long as it remains a clean bill. Even before action can be considered for Harvey relief and recovery efforts, another major storm (Irma) is heading for Florida. It is likely to cause substantial damage as well and result in new calls for funding to aid in recovery there. As this is taking place, Congress will need to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling in order to keep the government running. Also on tap are efforts to pass a budget for FY18, tax reform efforts, ongoing efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, the Administration’s threat to end the current trade agreement with South Korea, immigration reform, action on DACA, and the need to deal with a backlog of appointments for agency leadership that have not yet been considered or, in some cases, submitted for consideration. As these high visibility and high priority issues are to be considered, efforts will continue to move the 2018 Farm Bill forward. It will be an interesting fall.

    USDA Nominees Announced

    On Friday evening, President Trump announced his selections for three crucial USDA posts:

    • Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has been selected to serve as undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), a position Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue created as part of his reorganization of USDA.
    • Gregory Ibach, director of Nebraska's Department of Agriculture, has been picked to serve as undersecretary of agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP). Ibach formerly served as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
    • Stephen Vaden has been selected to serve as USDA's general counsel. Vaden has practiced law at Patton Boggs and Jones Day. He has been the acting general counsel at USDA since January.

    The undersecretary for FPAC oversees three critical USDA agencies: the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency. The undersecretary for MRP also oversees three critical agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the Agricultural Marketing Service; and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.

    In addition to the three individuals just named, Trump nominees for deputy secretary, Steve Censky, undersecretary for trade, Ted McKinney, and USDA chief scientist, Sam Clovis, have been formally nominated, but none have yet received a Senate confirmation hearing or full Senate vote. It is uncertain when this will happen.

    Farm Bill Activity

    During August, both the House Ag Committee and the Secretary of Agriculture held multiple listening sessions around the country to gather input for upcoming Farm Bill negotiations. Trade, farm prices, farm programs, and insurance have been items of concern for most groups speaking at the sessions. Feedback to date has been positive for research, but there is no language yet proposed to know where it will go. Groups we have met with encourage scientists to speak to their members of congress about the value and importance of publically funded research for the future of agriculture.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – August

    Evidence-Based Policy

    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator participated in a webinar titled "Evidence-based policy–The role for agricultural and applied economists." Topics and speakers included

    • Improving the Evidence Base for Government Decisions;
      Kenneth Troske, commissioner, US Commission on Evidence-Based Policy
    • Census-FNS-ERS Next-Generation Data Platform for USDA Food Assistance Program Research;
      Dr. Mark Prell, senior economist at the USDA’s Economic Research Service

    The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was established by the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140), jointly sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2016. The law established a 15-member commission that would examine improving federal data used in evaluating spending and tax programs, while protecting the privacy rights of the public from which basic data comes. The members of the commission represent "disciplines relevant to program evaluation and data management, including economics, statistics and data security." The law aims to use existing data to improve how government programs operate. A report from the commission is to be released on September 7.

    Meetings in Washington, DC

    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator met with several of the organizations and coalitions that FASS has worked with during a recent visit to Washington, DC. We discussed ways to be most effective in working with coalitions to support inclusion of research in the Farm Bill, increase funding for research in the budget, and ensure that animal research funding is treated equitably compared with plant research. The following are a few highlights from the groups and the staff visited as well as some general and consistent feedback from the visits.

    AVMA Government relations: Drs. Mark Lutschaunig, Lauren Stump, Ashley Morgan, and Kent McClure.

    • They have an action center used to provide grassroots input on issues. They noted it is challenging to get a response, but what is obtained is useful.
    • They are interested in the webinars that are in our plans and may be interested in co-hosting them if appropriate.

    American Farm Bureau Federation: Dale Moore

    • AFBF is interested in and supportive of research; however, farm income, commodity programs, and related issues have a higher legislative priority for them.
    • AFBF is a member of the SoAR coalition (with whom we also met).

    SoAR (Support of Ag Research): Tim Fink

    • SoAR is a coalition working to grow funding for agriculture research. The initial thrust is overall growth of funding, but they are interested in knowing of any specific priorities for research.
    • They seek to communicate the value and benefits of agriculture research to the public. They are interested in the JDS press releases being done with Elsevier as well as other sources of information.
    • They are currently seeking input on the most effective structure for research in the future.

    Animal Ag Coalition (AAC) and NPPC: Bill Davis

    • AAC seeks to bring a common voice in support of animal agriculture to farm bill and budget discussions.
    • NCBA is not a part of AAC, but is working with the group in support of including a FMD vaccine bank in the farm bill with funding in the budget.
    • AAC will be active in proposing items of interest across livestock species in the Farm Bill, so are interested in identifying priority issues.

    USDA: Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of NIFA

    • Dr. Ramaswamy noted that the first scientific meeting that he attended as the director of NIFA was the JAM. He had found that very useful and he would welcome an opportunity to meet with FASS participants again.
    • Dr. Ramaswamy recalled discussions early in his tenure when he promised to address the disparity in research funding between the plant and animal side. He noted that while not yet ideal, good progress has been made.
    • NIFA is pushing to include language supporting “tactical science” in the Farm Bill. This is an effort to be able to rapidly address emerging diseases that could be catastrophic to agriculture.
    • NIFA is actively seeking to make information on the value of research as easily available as possible. He pointed out that they have a number of infographics available at https://nifa.usda.gov/resources/field_resource_type/infographics-1125. They would appreciate feedback on others that would be of value.
    • Their data portal (https://nifa.usda.gov/data) includes a good deal of information, including a breakdown of funding by congressional district that can be of value for talking to legislators.

    Before traveling to Washington, we met via conference call with Caron Gala of CFARE. She is also active with NCFAR and FASA. NCFAR is planning a summit to create a vision for Food and Ag research, education, and economics (REE) that will likely be held in early 2018. It is being co-convened by the Riley Memorial Foundation and is intended to build on other complementary efforts.

    Some general observations:

    • The Farm Bill and budget are priorities for all the groups. Research is supported by all but is a higher priority for some.
    • All look forward to including FASS SPC as part of coalition efforts and will welcome input on the identification of issues for advocacy and development of language for letters and other proposals.
    • All are interested in any specific priorities we may have.
    • All recognize there is interest in Congress in moving the Farm Bill forward, but know it will be challenging. A few feel that the House may be able to put Farm Bill language forward this year, but none felt that the Senate would be able to do it, so there is little chance of a bill before next year.

    For additional details, contact
    Ken Olson Ph.D., PAS, FASS Science Policy Coordinator
    keolson@prodigy.net
    https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy

    News Update from the FASS Science Policy Committee – August

    We hope you have enjoyed both a productive and restful summer. The somewhat seasonal nature of food production as well as education affords us, occasionally, time to both work and reflect upon our opportunities and challenges, always with the goal of providing high-quality abundant food for all of humanity. The fires and smoke in my little corner of the world, the hurricanes in the other corner of our continent, and the reality of weather patterns everywhere remind us of the constant vigilance we need with science-based decision making in all food production.

    At this time, with the summer meetings over, changes in FASS management and consultants, and school and Congress back in session, the FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) renews our commitment to supporting scientific research and science-based decision making at all levels of business, government, and any organization charged with feeding people in the best way possible.

    First, we want to thank Lowell Randall and Walt Smith for their long and effective service and support as our go-to people in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, working with policy makers, scientists, elected officials, and people in all walks of food production. We thank them very much for their work and we wish them well in their continued endeavors.

    We welcome our colleague Ken Olson, who has served ADSA well as an educator and liaison between scientific and other organizations for a long time. He now represents FASS and the FASS SPC in many aspects of our relationship with government offices and officers.

    Please be sure to check out the FASS Science Policy website for our existing statements and for upcoming information on educational webinars. Two webinars are planned for this fall, one on the effects and importance of scientific research in agriculture, and the other on the scientific basis of animal products in the human diet.

    If there is anything you think we should address related to food animal agricultural science, please let me know (mcnamara@wsu.edu). Thanks for supporting animal agriculture production of high-quality food!

    As the branches of government continue to discuss the best ways forward for our nation and the world, including food production and science policy within the USDA, NIFA, and all government agencies charged with oversight and protection of our environment, food supply, and people, the FASS SPC renews our commitment to support for scientific research in all aspects of food production conducted efficiently and effectively, and integrated throughout the environmental and food production supply chain.

    We renew our statements on supporting free and open communication between all parties involved in government and private research and application.

    We renew our support for the best scientifically trained and able people, along with policy makers, business managers, NGO leaders, university and private research and educators, and everyone in government service or elected representatives to be hired and to work together to support a safe and effective food supply system.

    The SPC has recently and in the past already researched and provided information on several science areas. Some areas upon which FASS SPC has made simple policy statements are Free and Open Communication, Climate Change, and Co-Promotion of Environmental Stewardship and Production Efficiency. A summary is provided here and the full texts can be found at https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy.

    We have added the following statement to our website:

    The Science Policy Committee of FASS provides science-based information to public policy makers and regulators on issues pertaining to humane, sustainable, safe, and bountiful food animal production. To ensure that sound, peer-reviewed science is available when setting governmental policy and making regulations, it is imperative that the voice of science, be it verbal or written, is not restricted in any way.

    As a background, the committee provides this information:

    The Science Policy Committee of the FASS represents animal agricultural researchers and educators in many capacities. We provide science-based information on animal agricultural production and supply of high-quality food to anyone. As such, we work with colleagues in the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, other federal and state government departments, and many private companies and organizations on a routine basis to obtain and disseminate research published by scientists at the USDA, ARS, and all government agencies. We also work with universities and private research companies and organizations all over the United States, as well as with colleagues all over the world.

    It is thus imperative that we have access to free and open communication on all aspects of agricultural research, teaching, and application. We want to let all our membership and the public know that we support free and open communication of all science discussions and decisions, research, procedures, and results from research conducted with taxpayer dollars at our public research departments and universities.

    We hope that all professionals involved in agricultural science in private and public entities share our view that with excellent research and education we can continue to best feed our people in the most science-based, effective, and efficient ways possible, using resources wisely and sustaining our planet for future generations. We support and encourage everyone to continue free and open communication in all scientific endeavors in animal agriculture.

    Climate Change

    Rationale:
    Scientific evidence strongly suggests that climate change is occurring and has the potential to affect global food security. Animal agriculture can contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, and animal production is in turn impacted by climate change and variability. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through various techniques including dietary manipulation, improved productivity, and manure management.

    Policy Statement:
    FASS supports use of technology to maximize feed efficiency as well as increased public funding for research, extension, and education related to quantification and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and adapting animal production to a changing climate to ensure a safe and abundant food supply.

    Policy Objectives:

    • FASS supports a multi-faceted approach to climate change solutions that are compatible with other environmental, societal, and economic concerns relating to food systems.
    • FASS supports opportunities for the animal production industry to adopt production systems and technologies that reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by improving the efficiency of feed utilization.
    • FASS supports increased public funding:
    • For research to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture to allow improved accuracy of greenhouse gas emission inventories
    • For research to discover greenhouse gas mitigation strategies for animal agriculture
    • For research to find effective solutions to adapt animal production systems to a changing and variable climate
    • For extension programs to support implementation of these strategies and solutions.

    Co-Promotion of Environmental Stewardship and Production Efficiency.

    Rationale:
    Preservation of the ability of future generations to meet their needs while adequately serving the present population (sustainability) requires control of greenhouse gas (GHG) production and avoiding damage to air, water, and soil. Simultaneously, growing populations and rising purchasing power in developing countries will strain the earth’s finite capacity to produce enough high-quality protein and nutritionally rich foods, demanding efficient production of food. Fortunately, a growing body of evidence related to production of foods of animal origin suggests that production efficiency leads to environmental stewardship.

    Policy Statement:
    FASS supports minimization of greenhouse gas production and proper management of manure nutrients to avoid environmental damage from the necessary production of food of animal origin.

    Policy Objectives:

    • FASS opposes restriction on animal production technology when these restrictions may reduce efficiency and therefore increase environmental degradation.
    • FASS supports increased funding for research, extension, and education directed to improving environmental quality by increasing the efficiency of feed use by animals.

    We hope that this information is useful to you. If you need any help or support in discussing these topics with interested audiences, please let us know!

    July
    August 4, 2017

    Agriculture Budget

    Much work remains to be done before we have an FY18 budget, but the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have taken significant steps as both advanced their agriculture discretionary spending bills for fiscal 2018. The Senate version is somewhat more generous in that it provides $352 million less than fiscal 2017 compared with the House version, which provides $876 million less than the fiscal 2017 levels for the USDA, FDA, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Both make cuts across the majority of programs including farm loans, rural development, agricultural research, and efforts to control pests and diseases. On the positive side, it should be noted that both committees rejected President Trump’s request for billions of dollars in additional cuts.

    The House Appropriations Committee rejected calls from the White House to close 17 of the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) 112 research facilities. Instead, they are calling for USDA to report to Congress on its research initiative and facility needs. It is reported that ARS is at least $1 billion behind in deferred maintenance needs. Lawmakers are encouraging ARS to develop a plan to open up its more modern facilities to researchers to cut costs. But no funding is provided for USDA’s buildings, arguing instead that the department needs to establish a fund for facilities: "The Committee urges the Department to utilize this authority to address physical infrastructure needs."

    Indirect costs: The committee also wants USDA to report within 60 days on how universities and other non-USDA labs are reimbursed for administrative and overhead costs of research. The committee noted that current rates are inconsistent between programs. Universities have long complained that the current reimbursement rate of about 30% from the USDA’s competitive grant program is too low and that this is contributing to crumbling infrastructure at agricultural research institutions.

    The White House Office of Management and Budget has been considering severe cuts for indirect cost rates. In President Trump’s FY18 budget, the Administration called for capping overhead grant rates from the National Institutes of Health at 10%. The American Council on Education has said this "would significantly harm the important work being performed at colleges and universities, and threaten America’s current leadership role in medical research." Agriculture would have similar concerns.

    The Senate version includes $2.55 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This amount includes $375 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, maintaining the increase provided in FY2017. Formula research funding for land-grant universities is maintained at FY2017 enacted levels. The bill also rejects proposed extramural research project terminations and laboratory closures included in the budget request.

    FASA Meets and Acts

    The FASS Science Policy rep joined, via conference call, a meeting of the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA). During the meeting, members of the coalition discussed the following actions:

    • Submitting a letter in support of Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Research Service (NASS) funding to the leaders and members of the budget conference committee from FASA members.
    • Developing a set of talking points for those meeting with members and staff on ERS and NASS that highlight the importance of data collection and analysis.
    • Nominating an individual to receive an award for being a “Friend of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis” to highlight work done in this area.

    Following action by both appropriations committees, a coalition letter was submitted to chairs and ranking members of both committees. The letter will be available on the FASS website. FASS had previously joined a coalition letter from National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NC-FAR) strongly supporting funding for all areas of Research, Education, and Economics (REE). Action on the other items noted above will be moving forward.

    Stephen Censky Nominated as Deputy Agriculture Secretary

    The White House announced late Thursday that Stephen Censky, president and CEO of the American Soybean Association (ASA), has been nominated for the role of Deputy Agriculture Secretary. If confirmed for the position by the Senate, he would be responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the Department of Agriculture and overseeing implementation of policies set by the Trump Administration and Congress. Importantly, this includes work on the new Farm Bill, which lawmakers will try to enact before the current legislation expires in September 2018.

    Censky has served as ASA’s leader for about two decades. He made expanding US soybean exports a priority, particularly in China, and sought approvals for new biotech traits in seeds. He played a key role in the coalition that advocated against mandatory, on-package labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. This resulted in compromise legislation that was passed last July.

    Censky does have experience on Capitol Hill, where he started his career as a legislative assistant to former South Dakota Republican Senator Jim Abdnor, in which capacity he worked on transportation and agricultural issues. He also served at USDA in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, worked on the 1990 farm bill, and eventually became administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.

    Clovis Nominated for Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE)

    On July 19, 2017, President Trump nominated Dr. Sam Clovis to be Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE), the department’s top scientific post, and Chief Scientist for USDA. Sam Clovis is currently the White House representative at the USDA, in charge of coordinating White House and USDA policy and staffing under President Donald Trump.

    Clovis attended the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Over his 25-year career in the Air Force, he commanded the 70th Fighter Squadron and ultimately rose to the rank of Colonel. Upon his retirement in 1996, Clovis was the Inspector General of the United States Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Clovis holds an MBA from Golden Gate University and a PhD in public administration from the University of Alabama. He also studied national security at Georgetown University.

    Clovis was a tenured professor of economics at Morningside College in Iowa. He was a co-chair and policy advisor for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was responsible for crafting policy and explaining it in media appearances for the campaign. This post requires Senate confirmation. Several senators have raised questions relative to his qualifications to serve as chief scientist. It is uncertain when action will be taken on the nomination.

    Farm Bill Activity

    All parties are taking action to move forward on the Farm Bill. Both Senate and House Ag Committees have held hearings on various aspects of the bill and listening sessions are being held around the country. The hearings have focused largely on risk management tools and NAFTA preparation. Research has not been a focus to date. The House Agriculture Committee’s "Conversations in the Field" listening sessions are scheduled:

    Thursday August 3, 9:30 a.m. (Central time), Minnesota Farmfest, Gilfillan Estates, Morgan, Minnesota.

    Saturday August 5, 11:00 a.m. Central time/9:00 a.m. Pacific time, Modesto, California

    On the USDA side, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is set to depart on a five-state Farm Bill tour, beginning Thursday, August 3, at the Wisconsin State Fair. The secretary has indicated that he wants to be "intimately" involved in developing the 2018 bill. Perdue’s summer road trip—dubbed "Back to Our Roots"—will also take him to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. His schedule includes listening sessions with producers and consumers from across the country. "USDA will be intimately involved as Congress deliberates and formulates the 2018 Farm Bill," Perdue said in a statement. "We are committed to making the resources and the research available so that Congress can make good, facts-based, data-driven decisions. It’s important to look at past practices to see what has worked and what has not worked, so that we create a farm bill for the future that will be embraced by American agriculture in 2018."

    Invitation to NAS Science Town Hall

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has announced Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research, a new study to identify ambitious scientific opportunities in food and agriculture made possible by incorporating knowledge and tools from across the science and engineering spectrum. The year-long project involves the scientific community in describing research directions with high potential to open new frontiers for food and agriculture science. The public and the scientific community are invited to participate in person or online (via live webcast) in a town hall–style meeting on critical areas for research in food and agriculture on August 8 in the National Academy of Sciences Auditorium in Washington, DC. Online and in-person feedback on the presentations and panel discussions will help the committee focus its search for breakthroughs research. Public submissions to IdeaBuzz will also be spotlighted at the Town Hall.

    Register for the Town Hall here.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – July

    Internet sources are monitored daily for activities related to science policy that may be areas for potential action. We have reached out to coalitions and other groups that FASS has worked with in the past to ensure that we maintain strong working relationships. The following are some of our specific activities for July:

    Meetings
    Participated via conference call in a meeting with the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA) relative to support of funding for NASS and ERS as part of the overall research package in the budget and later in the 2018 Farm Bill.

    Conversed electronically with NC-FAR to discuss past and future activity.

    Letters and related activity
    Joined coalition letter originated by FASA supporting funding for research in the FY18 budget. See item above for more.

    Reporting

    • Provided information to the Science Policy Committee relative to the status of the Ag Budget in both houses for FY18
    • Shared information on USDA nominees
    • Shared information and invited input on the NAS Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research.

    Planning
    The FASS Science Policy Coordinator will be in Washington, DC, for meetings from August 17 to 23, including confirmed appointments with Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA; three members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Government Relations staff; Caron Gala with the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (CFARE), FASA, and NC-FAR; and Bill Davis with Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Several others visits are still being arranged.

    For additional details, please contact

    May
    April
    May 4, 2017

    Senate Confirms Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture

    On Monday, April 24, the Senate voted to confirm Sonny Perdue as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture. The final vote was 87–11, showing strong bipartisan support for the former governor of Georgia. Secretary Perdue was sworn in on April 25.

    After his swearing in, Perdue gave a speech outlining four principles for his time at USDA:

    • Maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper.
    • Prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers. They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.
    • Continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established. Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist.
    • Remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land. And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.

    More information on Secretary Perdue can be found by clicking here.

    Congress Announces Agreement on FY 2017 Appropriations

    The federal government has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions; the most recent passed on April 28. The one-week stopgap measure avoided a shutdown and allowed negotiators to keep working. On May 1, Congressional leaders announced that they had reached a deal on funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. The omnibus spending package provides over $1 trillion in funding.

    The package funds all aspects of the federal government, including the USDA. Within the USDA research accounts, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would receive $1.170 billion, a $27 million increase over FY 2016. Included in this increase are additional funds to support poultry production and health research and workforce development related to the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The bill also includes $99.6 million for ARS Buildings and Facilities to continue funding projects prioritized in the ARS Capital Investment Strategy. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), most accounts were funded at the same level as last year, the major exception being the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which received a $25 million increase from $350 million to $375 million. A summary of selected key accounts is listed below:

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2016 – FINAL
    FY 2017 – House
    FY 2017 - Senate
    FY 2017 – Omnibus (FINAL)
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.143 billion
    $1.151 billion
    $1.178 billion
    $1.170 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $212 million
    $99.6 million
    $64.3 million
    $99.6 million
    NIFA Research and Education
    $819.6 million
    $832.8 million
    $851.5 million
    $849.5 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $350 million
    $375 million (discretionary)
    $0 (mandatory)
    $375 million (discretionary)
    $0 (mandatory)
    $375 million (discretionary)
    $0 (mandatory)
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $4 million
    $4 million
    $4 million
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $475.8 million
    $477.3 million
    $476.2 million
    $477.4 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $30.9 million
    $36 million
    $36 million

    The House Rules Committee is expected to consider the omnibus bill on May 2, with full House and Senate action to occur shortly thereafter. It is expected that the bill will pass both chambers and be signed by President Trump this week. A copy of the omnibus bill can be found here.

    White House Forms Task Force on Rural America

    On April 25, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. The Executive Order creates an interagency task force to examine the concerns of rural America and suggest legislative and regulatory changes to address them. The ultimate goal is to spur economic growth in rural America.

    The policy in the Executive Order states:

    “A reliable, safe, and affordable food, fiber, and forestry supply is critical to America's national security, stability, and prosperity. It is in the national interest to promote American agriculture and protect the rural communities where food, fiber, forestry, and many of our renewable fuels are cultivated. It is further in the national interest to ensure that regulatory burdens do not unnecessarily encumber agricultural production, harm rural communities, constrain economic growth, hamper job creation, or increase the cost of food for Americans and our customers around the world.”

    The order creates an interagency task force composed of representatives from over 20 government departments and agencies. The task force is charged with identifying legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life in rural America. The group is to submit a report to the President in 180 days. A copy of the Executive Order can be found here.

    Senate Agriculture Committee to Hold Farm Bill Field Hearing

    The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold its second Farm Bill field hearing on May 6, 2017. The hearing is titled “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan” and will be held at the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center of Michigan State University in Frankenmuth, Michigan. The committee will hear from a wide variety of agricultural producers and Farm Bill stakeholders, examining agriculture, as well as conservation, rural economic development, research, forestry, energy, and nutrition policies that affect Michigan. More information on the hearing can be found here.

    Justice Department Weighs In on Animal Abuse Records

    The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a lawsuit against the USDA regarding the removal of animal abuse information from the APHIS website. The data was removed from the APHIS website in early February as part of an agency review. Some of the information has since been added back to the site. The Trump Administration’s Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Justice Department is arguing that USDA has no legal obligation to repost enforcement records regarding animal abuse to the website.

    FASS Washington Representative Speaks at UMD Career Center

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in a career panel at the University of Maryland on April 17. Randel joined other panelists from the Washington, DC, area to discuss careers in animal science. More than 20 animal science students from the University of Maryland attended the session, which produced a lively discussion about the variety of careers available in the animal sciences. The program was cosponsored by the Washington, DC, chapter of ARPAS and the University of Maryland.

    Visit of FASS Science Policy Committee Chair to NIFA

    In late April, John McNamara met with several leaders of National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (NIFA/AFRI), including Mark Mirando and Steve Smith, national program leaders, Division of Animal Systems; Adele Turzillo, division director, Division of Animal Systems; and Parag Chitnis, deputy director, Institute of Food Production and Sustainability. They discussed the role of the FASS Science Policy Committee in supporting top-quality scientific research, extension, and education in animal agriculture and all forms of agricultural research and production.

    Updates from AFRI included their ongoing support of foundation research in animal sciences including agricultural systems and technology; animal health and production of animal products and other areas. Information can be found at https://www.nifa.usda.gov/grant-search/field_special_notation/3452.

    Also discussed was the new and expanding commodity board system for funding of projects, including basic science projects, that meet commodity board (such as pork, dairy, beef, or poultry) goals. Commodity boards can submit topics to NIFA/AFRI and these topics can then be integrated into ongoing funding processes; they are a 1:1 match with significant funding levels. They are a 1:1 match with significant funding levels. Applicants have to specifically address the needs of the commodity board in their applications and must be specifically recommended for funding by the commodity board, and the normal AFRI/NRI reviews decide which are funded. This is an excellent possibility to extend research funds and speed application of research findings to the field. More information can be obtained from https://nifa.usda.gov/commodity-boards-frequently-asked-questions#funding and agency leaders.

    The FASS Science Policy Committee urges members to research this program and discuss potential support with the national commodity boards in their field.

    Newer initiatives include the Tactical Sciences program, which has the purpose of researching and supporting the safety and efficiency of food production and broadly to strengthen our national capacity to detect diseases and pests, prevent/minimize outbreaks, deal with natural disasters, and, when outbreaks do occur, support containment and recovery efforts. Contact Adele Turzillo for more details.

    The Big Data program supports the integration of research, data publication and management, and data sharing to improve the efficiency of large-scale research and application. One thing that is supported through this program is informational and planning workshops to provide input into AFRI for the funding of large-scale data projects. More information can be obtained from Parag Chitnis and recent announcements at https://nifa.usda.gov/resource/food-and-agriculture-data-science and https://nifa.usda.gov/announcement/usda-announces-135-million-support-data-driven-farm-management-practices.

    March
    April 3, 2017

    NIFA Releases Study on the Value of Capacity Programs

    On March 27, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a new report that measured the effectiveness of NIFA’s investments in capacity programs. The report entitled, “National Evaluation of Capacity Programs,” was prepared by TEConomy Partners. The report found that capacity funding remains a relevant program that offers multiple benefits. Investments respond to the specific needs of local, regional, and state agricultural producers. Capacity funds offer an essential funding stream for research and extension programs of relevance to producers that are unlikely to receive national-scale attention. Each dollar of capacity funding leverages $1.85 in additional investments from state, local, and private sector sources.

    NIFA commissioned the study to determine whether funding based on 100-year-old legislation is still a suitable model to support 21st century university needs. The results of the study will be helpful in defending the federal investment in capacity programs such as Hatch and Smith Lever as budget constraints lead to discussions about potential cuts to the USDA budget.

    House Subcommittee Holds Farm Bill Hearing on Livestock Issues

    On March 21, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a public hearing titled “The Next Farm Bill: Livestock Producer Perspectives.” The subcommittee heard testimony from four witnesses representing the beef, turkey, sheep, and pork industries.

    Witnesses included

    • Mr. Craig Uden, President, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Johnson Lake, NE
    • Mr. Carl Wittenburg, Chairman, National Turkey Federation, Alexandria, MN
    • Mr. Bob Buchholz, Region V Executive Board Representative, American Sheep Industry Association, Eldorado, TX
    • Mr. David Herring, Vice President, National Pork Producers Council, Newton Grove, NC

    Each of the witnesses mentioned the importance of agricultural research to their industry. Below are selected quotes from their respective testimonies:

    Mr. Uden stated support for increased funding for research on production practices, genetics, animal diseases, economics, nutrition, food safety, and environmental impacts. He went on to say that the research components of USDA and our land-grant universities continue to provide critical knowledge to our industry, allowing us to be the most efficient and effective producers possible.

    Mr. Wittenburg’s testimony included a request for mandatory funding to support a four-part package of programs to target animal disease prevention and mitigation. The package includes mandatory funding for a new Animal Pest and Disease Disaster Prevention Program, a vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), and research under NIFA.

    Mr. Buchholz addressed the importance of minor use drug research and the Agricultural Research Service’s U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) and Animal Disease Research Unit (ADRU). He also stated support for the creation and maintenance of an FMD vaccine bank and continued research.

    Mr. Herring expressed NPPC’s support for expanding federal funding for research, education and extension programs by improving the quantity and quality of USDA research through the agency’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Basic, competitive agricultural research allows America’s farmers to remain globally competitive in the face of a growing world population, improves public health and strengthens national security. NPPC supports increasing the funding for agricultural research to ensure that the U.S. livestock industry maintains its competitiveness in the global marketplace.

    The importance placed on agricultural research by the four witnesses is a key step in building the foundation for increased support for research in the next Farm Bill. More information on the hearing can be found here.

    Trump Budget Blueprint Proposes Cuts to USDA

    On March 16, President Trump released his budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018. The blueprint provides proposed funding levels across the government, but in most cases does not get into many programmatic details. The Department of Defense would receive an increase of $54 billion, while most other departments would face significant cuts.

    Under the blueprint, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be cut by 21% from the current FY 2017 Continuing Resolution level. The blueprint does not provide many details on how these cuts would impact agricultural research. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive $350 million under the blueprint, which represents the same level received in FY 2016 and the current FY 2017 Continuing Resolution. However, this is $25 million less than the House and Senate Appropriations Committee versions of the FY 2017 agriculture appropriations bill. Funding levels for capacity programs such as Hatch and Smith Lever are not mentioned.

    The blueprint states that in-house research funding within the Agricultural Research Service would be focused on the highest priority agriculture and food issues such as increasing farming productivity, sustaining natural resources, including those within rural communities, and addressing food safety and nutrition priorities. Without providing specifics, it appears that the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service would be cut significantly, although the Census of Agriculture would be supported.

    It is important to note that this is one of the first steps in the development of the FY 2018 budget. Major cuts like those proposed in the Budget Blueprint would have to be approved by Congress through the annual appropriations process. A copy of the Budget Blueprint can be found here.

    House Agriculture Subcommittee Hold Hearing on Research

    On March 16, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a public hearing titled “The Next Farm Bill: Agricultural Research.” The subcommittee heard testimony from three witnesses:

    Dr. Jay Akridge – Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; on behalf of APLU Link to Testimony

    Mr. Richard Wilkins – Chairman, American Soybean Association, Greenwood, DE; on behalf of NCFAR Link to Testimony

    Dr. James Carrington – President, Danforth Center, St. Louis, MO; on behalf of the Danforth Center Link to Testimony

    Each of the witnesses talked about the importance of research to the future success of agriculture and the farm economy. Dr. Akridge, testifying on behalf of the land grant universities, spoke about the need to support competitive and capacity programs, as well as infrastructure. Mr. Wilkins, representing the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (of which FASS is a member), gave the perspective of stakeholders who use and benefit from agriculture research to support their businesses. Dr. Carrington focused his testimony on the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), its operations, and the need for increased support.

    This was the first research-focused hearing conducted in preparation for the next Farm Bill. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to hold numerous additional hearings as they work to develop the next Farm Bill.

    National Academies of Sciences to Conduct Food and Agriculture Research Study

    The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has recently announced the initiation of Science Breakthroughs 2030, a new study to develop a 10-year plan for food and agriculture research. The goal of the project is to involve the scientific community in describing scientific opportunities with high potential to create breakthroughs for the food and agricultural enterprise. Input will be sought through a call for white papers, participation in community science meetings, and via online discussions of key questions.

    NAS recently completed the process for seeking nominations for individuals to serve on a senior-level executive committee that will oversee the study. Nominees (who can be from any field of science or engineering) should be known as big thinkers with the ability to envision the kind of breakthroughs made possible by interdisciplinary collaboration. The executive committee will organize efforts to receive input from scientists, particularly those not previously engaged in food and agricultural issues, and ultimately articulate strategic research directions that are both grounded by an understanding of food and agricultural challenges and elevated by the breakthrough potential of insights and tools from converging fields of science.

    To learn more about the study, click here.

    NEWS UPDATE FROM THE FASS SCIENCE POLICY COMMITTEE

    March 2017

    To our members and friends, hello! Thank you for allowing me to be the new chair of the FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) and please join me in thanking outgoing chair Brandon Nelson, who served excellently as FASS underwent major changes in management and focus.

    Now, the FASS SPC is back up and running and we hope to provide you with regular reports through our monthly updates and website. Please be sure to check out the FASS SPC website. If there is anything you think we should cover or address related to food animal agricultural science, please let me know. Thanks for supporting animal agriculture production of high quality food!

    The FASS SPC thanks you for your support of science in agricultural animal production. As the FASS SPC is charged with providing evidence based policy statements, we direct your attention to our Science Policy website. The SPC has already researched and provided information on a number of science areas: Free and Open Communication, Climate Change and Co-Promotion of Environmental Stewardship and Production Efficiency. A very brief summary is provided here and the full texts can be found at https://www.fass.org/Science-Policy.

    We have added the following statement to our website:

    Open Communication

    The Science Policy Committee of FASS provides science-based information to public policy makers and regulators on issues pertaining to humane, sustainable, safe, and bountiful food animal production. To ensure that sound, peer-reviewed science is available when setting governmental policy and making regulations, it is imperative that the voice of science, be it verbal or written, is not restricted in any way.

    As a background, the committee provides this information: The Science Policy Committee of the Food Animal Science Societies represents animal agricultural researchers and educators in many capacities. We provide science-based information on animal agricultural production and supply of high quality food to anyone. As such we work with colleagues in the USDA, NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture); the ARS (Agricultural Research Service); the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, other federal and state government departments, and many private companies and organizations on a routine basis to obtain and disseminate research published by scientists at the USDA scientists; ARS and all government agencies. We also work with Universities and private research companies and organizations all over the United States, as well as with colleagues all over the world.

    It is thus imperative that we have access to free and open communication on all aspects of agricultural research, teaching and application. We want to let all our membership and the public know that we support free and open communication of all science discussions and decisions; research, procedures and results from research conducted with taxpayer dollars at our public research departments and universities.

    We hope that all professionals involved in agricultural science in private and public entities share our view that with excellent research and education we can continue to best feed our people in the most science based, effective and efficient ways possible, using resources wisely and sustaining our planet for future generations. We support and encourage everyone to continue free and open communication in all scientific endeavors in animal agriculture.

    Climate Change

    Rationale: Scientific evidence strongly suggests that climate change is occurring and has the potential to affect global food security. Animal agriculture can contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, and animal production is in turn impacted by climate change and variability. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through various techniques including dietary manipulation, improved productivity, and manure management.

    Policy Statement: FASS supports use of technology to maximize feed efficiency as well as increased public funding for research, extension, and education related to quantification and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and adapting animal production to a changing climate to ensure a safe and abundant food supply.

    Policy Objectives:

    • FASS supports a multi-faceted approach to climate change solutions compatible with other environmental, societal, and economic concerns relating to food systems.
    • FASS supports opportunities for the animal production industry to adopt production systems and technologies that reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by improving the efficiency of feed utilization.
    • FASS supports increased public funding
      • for research to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture to allow improved accuracy of greenhouse gas emission inventories;
      • for research to discover greenhouse gas mitigation strategies for animal agriculture;
      • for research to find effective solutions to adapt animal production systems to a changing and variable climate; and
      • for extension programs to support implementation of these strategies and solutions.

    Co-Promotion of Environmental Stewardship and Production Efficiency.

    Rationale: Preservation of the ability of future generations to meet their needs while adequately serving the present population (sustainability) requires control of greenhouse gas (GHG) production and avoiding damage to air, water and soil. Simultaneously, growing populations and rising purchasing power in developing countries will strain the earth’s finite capacity to produce enough high-quality protein and nutritionally rich foods, demanding efficient production of food. Fortunately, a growing body of evidence related to production of foods of animal origin suggests that production efficiency leads to environmental stewardship.

    Policy Statement: FASS supports minimization of greenhouse gas production and proper management of manure nutrients to avoid environmental damage from the necessary production of food of animal origin.

    Policy Objectives:

    • FASS opposes restriction on animal production technology when these restrictions may reduce efficiency and therefore increase environmental degradation.
    • FASS supports increased funding for research, extension and education directed to improving environmental quality by increasing the efficiency of feed use by animals.

    We hope that this information is useful to you; if you need any help or support in discussing these topics with interested audiences, please let us know!

    February
    March 3, 2017

    Trump Administration Further Delays Obama “Midnight” Regulations

    On January 8, USDA announced that it is delaying implementation of the organic animal welfare regulations for an additional 60 days. That puts the new implementation date at May 19, 2017. The move is consistent with the Trump Administration’s policy of freezing late-term Obama regulations pending a review. The move was applauded by many livestock and poultry groups who have been critical of the regulation. A copy of the Federal Register notice can be found here.

    In addition, the Trump Administration has delayed the effective date of controversial Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations that the Obama Administration published intended to provide protections to poultry growers in their relationships with processors. The interim final rule’s effective date is now April 22, 2017. The comment periods for two related proposed rules have also been extended until February 21, 2017. The Federal Register notice can be found here.

    Both of these moves are consistent with the Trump Administration’s desire to address regulatory burdens facing agriculture. While the delays are relatively short-term, they will give the new administration additional time to review the regulations and determine if they want to further delay or potentially change the regulations.

    APHIS Removes Animal Welfare Enforcement Data from Website

    On February 3, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it had removed inspection data related to the Animal Welfare Act from its public website. APHIS cited an ongoing review of its information posting practices as a key factor in the decision. According to APHIS, in the future, the agency will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication. APHIS will also review and redact, as necessary, the lists of licensees and registrants under the AWA, as well as lists of designated qualified persons (DQPs) licensed by USDA-certified horse industry organizations. A copy of the APHIS announcement can be found here.

    The removal of the animal welfare information drew sharp criticism from the Humane Society and other animal welfare organizations. The Humane Society and PETA have filed lawsuits seeking to have APHIS return the information to its website. In addition, shortly after APHIS removed the information, a watchdog group posted much of the data to a site at memoryhole2.org.

    Since the original removal of information, APHIS has reposted some of the inspection data. APHIS has indicated that it is continuing to review the removed data and will be reposting information that is deemed appropriate for the website.

    FASS Participates in USDA Tactical Sciences Meeting

    The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the University of Maryland sponsored a meeting on February 15 to 16 titled “Tactical Sciences for the Protection of the U.S. Agricultural Enterprise: NIFA’s Call to Conversation”. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the meeting along with approximately 70 representatives from government, universities, and industry. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss strategies related to advancing the tactical sciences.

    Participants considered issues including:

    • What economic, political, social, technological, and scientific trends/forces will impact security of the American food system enterprise in the next 10 years?
    • What efforts are currently working related to the Tactical Sciences, and where are opportunities for improvement?
    • What should a successful approach and strategy for the Tactical Sciences look like moving forward?

    There was a strong consensus among the participants that increased coordination and support for the Tactical Sciences is important for securing the nation’s food production system. The group also identified the need to develop a shared vision and message related to Tactical Sciences to communicate the importance to external and internal audiences. More information about the event can be found here.

    Senate Holds First Farm Bill Field Hearing

    The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first Farm Bill field hearing on February 23 on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kansas. The committee heard testimony from 21 witnesses across three panels. Animal agriculture was represented by dairy, beef, and pork producers, and several of the witnesses from production agriculture mentioned the importance of agricultural research. In addition, witnesses from the beef and pork industries discussed the importance of developing a foot and mouth disease vaccine bank and supporting efforts to strengthen science-based programs to help prevent and mitigate impacts of animal disease.

    The hearing represents the beginning of the 2018 Farm Bill process in the Senate, with many more hearings to come. The House has also initiated hearings and is beginning its preparations for the next Farm Bill. More information on the Senate field hearing, including a full witness list and testimony, can be found here.

    GAO to Review Federally Conducted Animal Research

    A bipartisan group of 11 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) and Rep. Titus (D-NV), wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in December 2016 requesting a review of federal animal research. The letter requests a review of the accountability and transparency of intramural animal research conducted by federal agencies. The letter references the allegations of mistreatment at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, as well as NIH research on chimpanzees and other agency studies involving dogs. The study is expected to cover issues including:

    • Which federal agencies are conducting animal research
    • Systems for tracking and reporting animal research, including any instances of noncompliance
    • Amount of money spent on animal research and number of animals involved

    The effort is being driven by the White Coat Waste Project, which is an organization opposed to federal funding of animal research. The timeline for the GAO study has not been announced. A copy of the letter to GAO can be found here.

    February Presentation Recording from the ADSA Board Meeting
    February 13, 2017
    January
    February 6, 2017

    Obama White House Releases 2017 Update to Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology

    On January 4, the White House announced the release of a 2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. The update comes as a part of an Obama Administration effort to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology products that charged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accomplish three tasks:

    • clarify the current roles and responsibilities of the EPA, FDA, and USDA in the regulatory process;
    • develop a long-term strategy to ensure that the federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess the risks, if any, of the future products of biotechnology; and
    • commission an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products.

    The update is intended to be a comprehensive summary of the roles and responsibilities of the three principal regulatory agencies with respect to regulating biotechnology products. In addition, the government also released a National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products, which details the regulatory structure and oversight for all products of modern biotechnology. The strategy is intended to provide a framework for federal agencies to maintain high standards that, based on the best available science, protect health and the environment, while also establishing transparent, coordinated, predictable, and efficient regulatory practices.

    Trump Selects Perdue for Agriculture Secretary

    On January 19, just one day before his inauguration, President-Elect Trump announced his nomination of Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture. Perdue is a part of Trump’s agriculture advisory group and was thought to be a strong candidate shortly after the election. The announcement of Purdue completes the nominations for cabinet positions.

    Perdue is a former two-term governor of Georgia and has a history of working on agriculture issues. He grew up on a farm, holds a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia, and has run several agribusinesses. His veterinary experience is a hopeful sign that the nominee for understands the importance of animal science and will support animal agriculture during his tenure at USDA. Confirmation hearings for Perdue are expected to be scheduled in mid- to late-February.

    USDA Transition Efforts Expanding

    Along with the announcement of Sonny Perdue as Trump’s nominee for Agriculture Secretary, the Trump transition team has recently announced that Sam Clovis will be leading the “beachhead” team at USDA. Clovis, a national co-chair of Trump’s campaign, is an Iowa native and former economics professor. After the inauguration, beachhead teams were deployed to the various departments to help ensure a smooth transition, start establishing new administration policies, and continue the process of filling other political positions (USDA has approximately 250).

    First 2018 Farm Bill Hearing Scheduled

    On January 25, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) announced plans to hold the committee’s first hearing for the next Farm Bill. The hearing will take place on February 23 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and is titled “Hearing from the Heartland: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Kansas.” The hearing will officially mark the beginning of the 2018 Farm Bill process, with more hearings expected by the Senate and House Agriculture Committees this year.

    Obama Administration Finalizes Organic Animal Welfare Rules

    As one of the last regulatory actions of the Obama’s Department of Agriculture, the Agricultural Marketing Service published its Final Rule on organic animal welfare standards on January 18. The Final Rule goes into effect 60 days from publication and establishes production standards for organic livestock and poultry, including transport and slaughter.

    Key components of the rule include

    • Requiring that producers provide animals with daily access to the outdoors and that outdoor areas include vegetation and/or soil. Additionally, exit doors must be distributed to ensure animals have ready access to the outdoors. It does not allow enclosed porches to be considered outdoors or to meet the requirement for outdoor access.
    • Specifying the amount of space required indoors for chicken broilers and layers, prohibits forced molting, restricts the use of artificial light, limits the amount of ammonia in the air indoors, and requires perching space for laying chickens indoors.
    • Describing when producers can confine animals indoors temporarily and codifies flexibility for producers to confine animals when their health, safety, or well-being could be jeopardized.
    • Adding humane handling requirements for transporting livestock and poultry to sale or slaughter, and clarifies humane slaughter requirements.
    • Prohibiting several kinds of physical alteration, like de-beaking chickens or docking cows’ tails.

    The Final Rule was met with strong criticism by livestock, dairy, and poultry groups, as well as bipartisan concerns from several key Members of Congress. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) both issued statements critical of the USDA action. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) also expressed his disappointment in the Final Rule. For text of the Final Rule and additional information, click here.

    Trump Administration Places Temporary Freeze on Late-Term Obama Regulations

    On January 20, 2017, the new White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” The memorandum, which is subject to exemptions for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters, is designed to ensure that the President's appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations. The move is similar to a freeze that President Obama placed on regulations at the beginning of his first term.

    Specifically, the memorandum asks departments and agencies to

    • Send no regulations to the Federal Register until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2017, reviews and approves the regulation.
    • For regulations that have been sent to the Federal Register but not yet published, immediately withdraw them (subject to the exceptions described above and consistent with Federal Register procedures).
    • For regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but have not taken effect, temporarily postpone their effective date for 60 days for the purpose of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy (and possible further review). This provision will temporarily delay the effective date of the Organic Animal Welfare Rule and the recently finalized GIPSA rule.

    Trump Signs Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

    On January 30, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” The action addresses a promise he made on the campaign trail to curtail the impact of federal regulations. The Executive Order institutes a policy that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations must be identified for elimination. The order also calls for a reduction in costs of regulations and places a cap of zero dollars on new regulations for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. Any new incremental costs associated with new regulations in 2017 must be offset by the elimination of existing regulatory costs. Beginning in fiscal year 2018, each agency will be given a set budget for regulatory expenses. Agencies will be required to identify budget offsets for any regulation that is estimated to have increased costs in that fiscal year. The White House Office of Management and Budget will provide additional guidance to agencies on how to comply with the new policies.

    Trump’s actions signal a significant shift in the regulatory climate. The new policies may make it more difficult for USDA to advance rules such as those required by the GMO labeling legislation signed into law last year.

    Interim Communications Policies Cause Controversy

    In addition to a temporary freeze on regulations, several agencies have placed temporary restrictions on external communications. A memo from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Chief of Staff caused concern as it was reported by media that the agency would be restricting any outward-facing communications until further notice. USDA’s Acting Deputy Secretary clarified the Department’s official policy with guidance that superseded the ARS memo. The USDA’s interim measures sets protocols that press releases and policy statements must be routed through the Secretary’s office.

    The Acting Deputy Secretary, a long-time career employee, stated in the memo that “In order for the Department to deliver unified, consistent messages, it's important for the Office of the Secretary to be consulted on media inquiries and proposed response to questions related to legislation, budgets, policy issues, and regulations.” “Policy-related statements should not be made to the press without notifying and consulting the Office of the Secretary. That includes press releases and on and off the record conversations.” The interim policy is very similar to the policy instituted during the early stages of the Obama Administration.

    Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Roster Announced

    On January 24, Senate Appropriations Committee chair Thad Cochran announced the roster for the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) was selected to replace outgoing chair Jerry Moran (R-KS) to head the Subcommittee. Other members of the subcommittee include:

    Republicans
    Democrats
    John Hoeven (ND) – Chair
    Jeff Merkley (OR) – Ranking Member
    Thad Cochran (MS)
    Dianne Feinstein (CA)
    Mitch McConnell (KY)
    Jon Tester (MT)
    Susan Collins (ME)
    Tom Udall (NM)
    Roy Blunt (MO)
    Patrick Leahy (VT)
    Jerry Moran (KS)
    Tammy Baldwin (WI)
    Marco Rubio (FL)
     

    2016

    December
    January 4, 2017

    Interviews for Secretary of Agriculture Continue

    As of January 1, President-elect Trump has yet to name his nominee for Secretary of Agriculture. The position is one of three cabinet-level jobs that remain to be filled. President-elect Trump spent much of the week of December 26 interviewing candidates. Among those being vetted are four Texans: former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, current Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, former House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Henry Bonilla and former President of Texas A&M University Elsa Murano. All four of these candidates spent time with Trump and senior members of his team discussing agriculture and food policy issues. In addition, former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado has been interviewed. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was interviewed in late November and has re-emerged as a strong contender for the position. A decision on the nominee is expected soon.

    FDA Report Shows Increase in Antibiotic Sales During 2015

    On December 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its annual report on the sales of antibiotics for use in farm animals. The data show a 1% increase in sales from 2014 to 2015. “Medically important” antibiotics represented 62% of all sales and grew by 2% over 2014 levels. The growth in sales drew criticism from consumer groups and some in the medical community, as concerns over antibiotics increase. A copy of the FDA report can be found here.

    Members of Congress Urge Renaming of Plant-Based “Milk”

    On December 16, a bipartisan group of 34 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding policies for labeling plant-based products as “milk.” The letter expresses concern that using the term “milk” for plant-based products is misleading to consumers and harmful to the dairy industry. In addition, the term “milk” carries the expectation of a certain level of nutritional value. The nutritional profile of plant-based “milk” is not equivalent to the level of nutrition found in milk from animal sources.

    The letter states that using the term “milk” violates the clear identity standard defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, which should make the marketing of plant-based products as “milk” illegal. The representatives are urging the FDA to require companies to use a more appropriate name before allowing for further marketing of the products. The letter was met with strong support from the dairy industry.

    USDA Publishes GIPSA Rule

    On December 14, the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. According to the USDA, the rules are intended to target the most harmful practices hurting farmers and clearly outline commonsense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

    The USDA asserts that the new rules would level the playing field for farmers by proposing protections against the most egregious retaliatory practices harming chicken growers. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules comprise an interim final rule and two rules proposed by GIPSA. The interim final rule affirms the Department's long-time position that it is not necessary to demonstrate that an unfair practice harms the entire market in order to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. One of the proposed rules would clarify what GIPSA views as practices that clearly violate the Act and would establish criteria to protect the legal rights of farmers. The other proposal would establish criteria that GIPSA would consider in determining whether a live poultry dealer has engaged in a pattern or practice to use a poultry grower ranking system unfairly. A copy of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules can be found on the GIPSA website.

    The rule was met with strong criticism from industry. Responses from various groups can be found here: National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

    FASS Washington Representative Speaks to ARPAS Group

    On December 7, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel spoke to the Washington, DC, area ARPAS group. During his presentation, Randel discussed the results of the 2016 elections and their potential impacts on agriculture and research policy. Randel also provided an update on appropriations for fiscal year 2017 and preparations for the 2018 Farm Bill.

    November
    December 5, 2016

    Names Emerging for Agriculture Secretary as Trump Transition Begins

    With President Elect Donald Trump’s success on election day, efforts to fill cabinet positions are underway.  While several nominations have been announced, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture is still uncertain.  Speculation continues about potential candidates for Secretary of Agriculture. 

    Names mentioned thus far include:

    • Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas
    • Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa
    • Chuck Conner, CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
    • Dave Heineman, Former Governor of Nebraska
    • Charles Herbster, Agri-businessman from Nebraska
    • Mike McCloskey, Dairy industry executive from Indiana
    • Sonny Perdue, Former Governor of Georgia
    • Rick Perry, Former Governor of Texas
    • Bruce Rastetter – Summit Ag Group of Alden, Iowa

    All of these people also currently serve on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, which was named in August 2016 to help guide the campaign’s agriculture policy.  The over 60-person committee includes Congressional leaders, former and current state elected officials and representatives from industry. 

    In addition to filling the top spot at USDA, there are large number of other appointed positions at USDA.  Helping to manage this transition process will be Joel Leftwich, who serves as the Senate Agriculture Committee Staff Director under Chairman Pat Roberts.

    Congressman Tom Price Selected for Secretary of HHS

    President elect Trump has announced his intention to nominate Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) as the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  While one of his first, and largest jobs, will be to address potential changes to Obamacare, he will also have responsibility for policies related to the Food and Drug Administration.  This includes the Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.  Price will be in an important position on issues including antibiotic resistance and food safety.  It is interesting to note that Price voted against the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which FDA is charged with implementing and enforcing. 

    2300 Scientists Write Open Letter to President-Elect Trump

    In response to President-Elect Donald Trump’s election victory, over 2300 scientists penned a letter calling for the new administration to respect and include scientific evidence in policy decisions.  The signers include 22 Nobel Prize winners.  The letter states, in part, that “People benefit when our nation’s policies are informed by science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence.” 

    Some have expressed concern with how the Trump Administration will address science.  Trump’s policy positions on science issues are largely undefined at this point.  However, he has shown skepticism regarding climate change and regulations related to global warming.  A recent Science Advisory Board survey showed that 72 percent of respondents were concerned about the impact that Trump would have on Science.

    Republicans Maintain Control of House and Senate

    The 2016 Congressional elections brought less change to the makeup of the House and Senate than was anticipated.  Democrats gained two seats in the Senate and six seats in the House.  However, Republicans will have control of the House, Senate and White House for the first time in decades.  Current House and Senate Agriculture Committee members fared well in the elections, with only Representative Brad Ashford (D-NE) being defeated.  While committee assignments for the next Congress have not been made, major changes in the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are not expected.

    FASS Authors Chapter in AAAS Report on FY 2017 R&D Funding

    On November 18th, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a report detailing the status of funding for science and technology in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations cycle.  FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the Intersociety Working Group and authored Chapter 20 addressing federal investments in science related to food security.  More information on the AAAS effort and a copy of the final report can be found by clicking here.

    October
    November 2, 2016

    Annual One Health Day to be Held November 3rd

    The One Health Commission is coordinating an annual event to recognize the importance of the one health concept. Per the Commission, One Health Day (held annually on November 3rd) is “a day of declaration and action wherever possible to bring global attention to the crucial need and benefits of using trans-disciplinary approaches to complex challenges involving animals, people, and planetary ecosystems.” Through activities and events around the world, One Health Day is designed to give scientists, practitioners and advocates a powerful, unified voice to advance an interdisciplinary effort to address challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, climate change and environmental pollution. More information about One Health Day, along with a list of events (many of which are in the United States) can be found here.

    FFAR Adds Board Members, Holds Public Session

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) held a board meeting the week of October 3rd. During the meeting, the board officially added the following six new members.

    • Doug Cameron- managing director of First Green Partners, an early-stage venture investment company and of Alberti Advisors, a family business focused on innovation and education.
    • Carl Casale- president and chief executive officer of CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation’s largest member-owned cooperative.
    • Gail Christopher- senior advisor and vice president at W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
    • Mehmood Khan- vice chairman and chief scientific officer of global research and development (R&D) at PepsiCo.
    • Pam Marrone- founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, a company Marrone founded to discover and develop natural products for pest management in agriculture and water.
    • Bob Stallman- rice and cattle producer and past president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a nonprofit membership organization with affiliates in 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

    More information on the FFAR board members can be found here.

    As a part of the board meeting, a public session was held to share the latest information on the foundation’s programs and activities. FASS Washington Representative, Lowell Randel participated in the session. FFAR Executive Director, Sally Rockey provided updates on the following programs:

    • New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research - Awards for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research are scheduled to be made in the next four weeks and FFAR is currently fundraising for the next round of solicitations.

    Dr. Rockey also unveiled FFAR’s new challenge areas which will help guide the foundation’s priorities. The seven challenges areas are: Food Waste and Loss, Protein Challenge, Water Scarcity, Innovation Pathway to Sustainability, Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms, Urban Food Systems, and "My Food Plate".

    USDA Advisory Committee on Animal Health Seeking Nominations

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it is seeking nominations for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health (SACAH). SACAH advises the Secretary of Agriculture on strategies, policies, and programs to prevent, control, or eradicate animal diseases. According to USDA, the committee considers agricultural initiatives of national scope and significance and advises on matters of public health, conservation of national resources, stability of livestock economies, livestock disease management and traceability strategies, prioritizing animal health imperatives, and other related aspects of agriculture. The committee will be comprised of up to 20 members from across the agricultural community, including producers, processors, marketers, researchers, State and Tribal agricultural agencies and trade associations. Members serve for a term of two years.

    USDA is soliciting nominations from interested organizations and individuals. An organization may nominate individuals from within or outside its membership. Individuals may nominate themselves or someone else. Nomination forms are available by clicking here and are due by November 28, 2016.  More information on the SACAH can be found here.

    NIFA Holds Data Summit, Announces New FACT Initiative

    On October 10th, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) held a Data Science in Agriculture Summit to discuss to future of data in agriculture and build on existing U.S. government wide-efforts and investments in Big Data. The summit featured leaders in the fields of data science and agriculture and engaged a diverse array of stakeholders to identify new opportunities for data science in agriculture.

    During the summit, NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy announced a new initiative entitled Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT). According to Ramaswamy, the FACT initiative is designed to develop data-driven solutions for addressing complex problems facing agriculture today. Central to FACT is the recognition that analyses of agricultural systems to identify novel solutions require multi-scale data, machine learning, data visualization, and predictive modeling. These efforts will require transdisciplinary teams to work across scientific, economic, environmental, industrial, and political spheres.

    NIFA is encouraging stakeholders to use an “Ideas Engine” to identify opportunities to advance data science in agriculture.  Suggested areas include:

    • Data-driven advances in agriculture and the food production system;
    • Cross-sector advances in data applications;
    • Data-driven advances to address societal well-being and consumer demands;
    • Data management and application;
    • Developing a data literate workforce and end-user; and
    • Big data in communication, property rights, and communities

    The deadline for providing input through the “Ideas Engine” is October 31, 2016.

    FSIS Seeks Input on Animal Raising Claims

    On October 5th, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) published guidance in the Federal Register related to documentation needed to substantiate animal raising claims for label submission. The updated guideline reflects FSIS's current position and procedures for reviewing animal-raising claims and includes explanations of animal-raising claims that FSIS may approve and the types of supporting documentation that the Agency requires to be submitted to support these claims.  The changes included in this version of the guideline include definitions for frequently used animal-raising claims, the detailed supporting documentation required for each specific claim that appears on the label, additional information regarding the claim grass fed, information required for duplicating raising claims from purchased product, and examples of labels bearing claims. Public comments are due by December 5, 2016. More information on the guidance can be found here.

    Administration Proposes Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology

    Last year, the Obama Administration initiated an effort to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology with the goal to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system for biotechnology products and to improve the transparency, predictability, coordination, and, ultimately, efficiency of that system. As part of the effort, the Administration issued a memo tasking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with:

    • clarifying the current roles and responsibilities of the EPA, FDA, and USDA in the regulatory process;
    • developing a long-term strategy to ensure that the Federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess the risks, if any, of the future products of biotechnology; and
    • commissioning an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products.

    This process has resulted in the publication of an update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. The update to the framework details of the roles and responsibilities of the three principal regulatory agencies with respect to the regulation of biotechnology products and outlines for stakeholders the regulatory process and structure. A copy of the updated framework can be found here.

    ARS and NIFA Holding Animal Health Stakeholder Webinar Series

    The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are continuing their efforts to solicit stakeholder input on priorities for animal health research. As a part of this process, the agencies will be hosting a series of webinars to identify, discuss, and prioritize the most pressing research, education and extension needs of our animal health stakeholders. Registration is on a “first come, first served” basis, so those interested are encouraged to registered early to ensure a spot on the webinar. Below is a listing of the scheduled webinars with hyperlinks to the registration for each. More information on the webinar series can be found here.

    TOPIC
    DATE/TIME (ET)
    Tuesday, Oct 20, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Oct 20, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Oct 25, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Tuesday, Oct 25, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Oct 27, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Oct 27, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 1, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 1, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Nov 3, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Nov 3, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Nov 10, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Nov 10, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 15, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    September
    October 4, 2016

    FASS Science Policy Update – September 2016

    Congress Approves Continuing Resolution

    With only a few days left in the fiscal year, Congress came together to pass a stop-gap appropriations bill to keep the government running. The legislation will continue funding federal programs, including research funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at fiscal year 2016 levels through December 9, 2016. However, in order to meet discretionary spending caps, a 0.5 percent reduction across the board would be applied. The CR also includes $1.1 billion in funding to address the Zika virus and $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states. In addition, the 2017 appropriations provisions for military construction and veterans were approved for the full fiscal year.

    The "clean" continuing resolution does not include controversial policy riders, but was the subject of criticism because it does not include funding to address water issues in Flint, Michigan. The Flint water issue threatened to derail the CR, but a compromise was struck to fund Flint under the Water Resources Development Act.

    The House of Representatives and Senate both passed the continuing resolution (CR) with strong bipartisan support and President Obama has signaled that he will sign it.

    FFAR Announces Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) Program

    On September 26th, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced the launching of the Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) program. According to FFAR, the ROAR program will provide swift disbursement of research and extension funds in response to new and emerging agricultural pests and pathogens. The new program is designed to accelerate first steps needed to combat unforeseen agricultural emergencies and serve as a bridge to traditional funding.

    The program has the potential to help animal agriculture respond to pest and disease emergencies by quickly supporting and delivering science based solutions. Stakeholders are encouraged to develop consortia and enter into an agreement with FFAR. The agreement will lay the groundwork for the rapid review of a potential application for ROAR funding if and when a disaster strikes that threatens the commodity or commodities of interest.

    When a disaster arises that affects the commodity of interest, ROAR participants may submit a proposal to address a pest or pathogen outbreak through research and outreach. FFAR will render the decision to fund or not fund a proposal within one week of submission. Program applicants will be responsible for providing funds to match the amount, up to $150,000, requested from the Foundation.

    FFAR will hold a webinar on October 21st to share more information about the ROAR program. Additional details, along with webinar registration information can be found by clicking here.

    FDA Begins Review of "Healthy" Definition

    On September 27th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has started a public process to redefine the "healthy" nutrient content claim for food labeling. FDA is considering changes to the definition of "healthy" as a part of an overall plan to provide consumers with information about food choices.

    Part of the FDA process is seeking public input on the term "healthy". FDA has issued a Request for Information and is inviting public comment on the term "healthy", generally, and as a nutrient content claim in the context of food labeling and on specific questions contained in this document. FDA has also released a guidance document entitled: Guidance for Industry: Use of the Term "Healthy" in the Labeling of Human Food Products. According to FDA, the purpose of the guidance is to advise manufacturers who wish to use the implied nutrient content claim "healthy" to label their food products as provided by our regulations. It also alerts food manufacturers that FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion relative to foods that use the implied nutrient content claim "healthy" on their labels which:

    1. Are not low in total fat, but have a fat profile makeup of predominantly mono and polyunsaturated fats; or
    2. contain at least ten percent of the Daily Value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of potassium or vitamin D.

    More information on FDA’s efforts to redefine the term “healthy” can be found here.

    United Nations Adopts Goals to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

    On September 21st, the United Nations announced a global commitment to address the issue of antibiotic resistance. U.N. member sountries reaffirmed their commitment to develop national action plans on AMR, based on the World Health Organization’s "Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance". U.N. leaders identified the need for stronger systems to monitor drug-resistant infections and the volume of antimicrobials used in humans, animals, and crops, as well as increased international cooperation and funding. Countries are pledging strengthen the regulation of antimicrobials, improve knowledge and awareness, promote best practices and support the development alternatives and new technologies for diagnosis and vaccines.

    A copy of the declaration approved by the U.N. can be found here.

    FSIS Issues Directive on Avian Influenza

    On September 21st, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a directive to inspectors regarding what to do in case of an avian flu outbreak. The document guides inspectors through a series of steps to identify infected flocks and mitigate the spread of the disease. Some key points from the directive include:

    • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has responsibility for the critical activities in the event of an outbreak, defines the control areas, and must issue permits for flock movement from control areas
    • Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) are to examine every truck load of birds, from control areas, during ante-mortem inspection
    • On-line inspectors are to retain (e.g., hang back) all carcasses exhibiting signs of high path avian influenza (HPAI) for veterinary disposition
    • When PHVs suspect that birds or carcasses exhibit clinical signs or lesions consistent with HPAI, they are to stop the establishment from further slaughtering the flock, retain all affected birds, carcasses and parts, and contact the District Office (DO)
    • Inspectors are to comply with the same sanitary and hygiene procedures and biosecurity measures that establishments have in place for their personnel

    A full copy of the directive can be found here.

    Vilsack Suggests Creation of White House Food Council

    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) during its meetings on September 8th and 9th. During his remarks, he suggested that the next administration should consider creating a White House food council. Citing the 15 federal agencies with jurisdiction over food and agriculture policy, Vilsack asserted that the establishment of an administration wide council would help facilitate a more coordinated approach to policy. Vilsack cited the precedence of such councils for environmental quality and rural affairs. A White House Food Council could help bring together agencies with producers, processors and others in the food and agriculture sector to foster policies that will strengthen the industry.

    Finally, are YOU interested in serving on the FASS Science Policy Committee? To learn more, contact Jamie Ritter at jamier@assochq.org.

    August
    September 6, 2016

    FASS Science Policy Update – August 2016

    USDA Announces Stakeholder Webinar Series on Animal Health Research Priorities

    On August 24th, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced a series of webinars to solicit stakeholder input on animal research priorities. The webinars will be used to identify, discuss, and prioritize the most pressing research, education and extension needs for animal health research.

    The webinar series will cover 13 different topics ranging from specific species to crosscutting issues. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and slots are limited. Where possible, USDA requests that multiple participants at the same location register only once and join the webinar as a group to make the best use of the available slots. After the webinar a recording and copy of the slides will be made available.

    USDA is also seeking input prior to the webinars. USDA is asking stakeholders to provide their top five animal health issues are via email to animal.health@nifa.usda.gov. Please include the webinar topic in the subject line. All comments received by September 30, 2016 will be reviewed and incorporated into the discussion. Please limit your submission to 500 characters as only the first 500 characters will be reviewed.

    Even if you are unable to attend the webinar, USDA encourages stakeholders to provide input on what they consider are the top 5 animal health issues, including information on: where the largest gaps of knowledge lie; what types of research, education or extension questions need to be answered; and what tools are needed to address the knowledge gaps and what research is needed to develop such tools.

    More information about the webinar series can be found by clicking here.

    Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Announces Advisory Councils

    On August 10th, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced that it has formed six advisory councils to assist the foundation regarding program development and implementation, potential partnerships to address food and agriculture challenges. Council members will serve two or year terms.

    Membership in the advisory council on Sustainable Farm Animal Productivity, Resilience, and Health is listed below. Dr. Morgan Scott of Texas A&M University will serve as Chair of this council.

    SUSTAINABLE FARM ANIMAL PRODUCTIVITY, RESILIENCE, AND HEALTH

    Name
    Affiliation
    Sheila Andrew, Ph.D.
    University of Connecticut
    Lisa Becton, D.V.M.
    National Pork Board
    Sebastian Belle
    Maine Aquaculture Association; Econ-Aqua; TAAG
    Barry Bradford, Ph.D.
    Kansas State University
    D. Layne Coppock, Ph.D.
    Utah State University
    Lauren Gwin, Ph.D.
    Oregon State University; Niche Meat Processor Assistant Network
    G. Donald Ritter, D.V.M.
    Mountaire Farms
    *Harvey Morgan Scott, D.V.M., Ph.D.
    Texas A&M University
    John Smith, D.V.M.
    Fieldale Farms Corporation
    Duane Theuninck, Ph.D.
    Cargill, Inc.
    Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D.
    University of California, Davis

    More information on FFAR and the advisory councils can be found by clicking here.

    President Signs GMO Labeling Legislation

    On July 31st, President Obama signed legislation that would establish a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products. The bill had passed the Senate and House with strong bipartisan support and was seen as a workable compromise to establish a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products and preempts individual state labeling laws. The State of Vermont was one of the first states to pass its own labeling law, which went into effect on July 1, 2016. Vermont officials stated that they would stop enforcing the law after President Obama signed the new federal legislation into law. Under the new policy, companies will have the option to include an on-package statement about GMO contents, or point consumers to a website for more product information. Products from animals that consume GMOs would not be subject to any labeling requirements. The text of the legislation can be found here.

    One final thing: Don’t forget to listen to our recorded Science Policy update that is posted below.

    July Presentation Recording from the ADSA Board Meeting
    August 8, 2016
    July
    August 4, 2016

    FASS Science Policy Activities at JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel participated in the recent Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) in Salt Lake City. They provided an update to the ADSA Board of Directors, as well as spending time in the FASS booth in the exhibit hall. The FASS Science Policy Committee also met during JAM to discuss emerging policy issues and refine the committee’s policies and procedures.

    OSTP Seeks Input on Agriculture Workforce Development

    On July 20th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a blog post entitled "An Agriculture Workforce for the 21st Century." The post details challenges facing U.S. agriculture, specifically with regards to workforce shortages, and issues a public Call to Action to meet these challenges through targeted investments in food and agriculture education, outreach, and academic research.

    OSTP is interested in hearing from stakeholders including companies; academic institutions and schools; non-profit organizations; commodity groups; scientists and scientific societies; youth groups; and others on the steps they will take to:

    • Address workforce shortages
    • Broaden and diversify the agriculture workforce
    • Make investments in education and outreach programs
    • Support academic research and training

    To participate in the OSTP process, e-mail your submission to science@ostp.eop.gov by August 31, 2016 and include "Ag Workforce" in the subject line.

    USDA Holds Stakeholder Webinar on Antimicrobial Resistance

    USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Office of the Chief Scientist held a stakeholder webinar on July 19th to discuss, prioritize, and develop strategies to help meet the most pressing animal health research education and extension needs related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the webinar.

    The goal of the webinar was to identify AMR Research, Education and Extension priorities for the next 5 years from the perspective of animal agriculture. Five major themes were discussed including:

    • Risk Analysis
    • Optimizing Antibiotic Therapy
    • Alternative Approaches to Health
    • "One Health" Challenges
    • Underserved/represented Groups

    USDA will now review and analyze of all comments provided via webinar or other mediums and develop a final report. The report is expected to be completed in 2017 and will be used to inform the development of RFAs and scientific priorities.

    NIFA and ARS are planning to conduct additional stakeholder sessions through the fall of 2016 on 13 additional topics related to animal health. FASS plans to participate in these sessions as the process moves forward.

    FFAR Announces New Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

    On July 13th, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced that it has established the first-ever National Academy of Sciences (NAS) prize dedicated to food and agriculture research. The new prize is endowed by FFAR and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will enable the prize to be awarded in perpetuity.

    Beginning in 2017, NAS will recognize one annual prize recipient for an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. The prize may also be shared by one or more individuals for a collaborative accomplishment. Winners of the prize will be awarded $100,000.

    The prize is targeting "mid-career" scientists, which is defined as no more than 20 years since Ph.D. completion. For the purposes of the prize, areas of science with applications to agriculture include plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science, soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. Nomination requirements and submission instructions can be found by clicking here. Applications are due by October 3rd.

    Congress Passes GMO Labeling Legislation

    On July 7th, the Senate voted by a margin of 63-30 to approve legislation that would establish a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products. The House followed suit by passing the bill on July 14th by a vote of 306 – 117. The legislation establishes a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products and preempts state laws like the one passed in Vermont and sets national policy for labeling of products with GMO contents. Companies will have the option to include an on-package statement about GMO contents, or point consumers to a website for more product information. Products from animals that consume GMOs would not be subject to any labeling requirements.

    The legislation, now approved by both chambers of Congress, will be prepared and sent to the President for his expected signature. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the legislation, despite the White House receiving a petition with over 100,000 signatures urging his veto. The text of the legislation can be found here.

    June
    July 1, 2016

    USDA Seeks Stakeholder Input on Antimicrobial Resistance

    USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Office of the Chief Scientist has announced that they will host a stakeholder webinar on July 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time to discuss, prioritize, and develop strategies to help meet the most pressing animal health research education and extension needs related to AMR.

    Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and slots are limited. USDA is requesting that, whenever possible, multiple participants at the same location register only once and join the webinar as a group to accommodate the maximum number of participants. Registration can be found at the following link:  Register now

    USDA is also asking for pre-webinar input to help drive the discussion during the live event.  USDA requests that stakeholders share their views on the top five antimicrobial resistance issues in the context of animal health by sending an email to animal.health@nifa.usda.gov (include “AMR” in the subject line).  When drafting input, USDA encourages that stakeholders consider the following issues: (1) the largest gaps of knowledge, (2) the major research, education or extension questions that need to be answered, and (3) the tools needed to address the knowledge gaps and answer major questions.  (Please note: Only the first 500 characters in each comment will be reviewed.)  Comments received by July 5 will be reviewed and incorporated into the webinar discussion.

    FDA Publishes Progress Report on Antibiotic Resistance

    On June 30th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its fifth Biannual Progress Report on Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in Food-producing Animals.  FDA has called on animal drug sponsors of approved medically important antimicrobials administered to food-producing animals through medicated feed or water to remove from their product labels indications for use related to growth promotion, and to bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products under the oversight of a veterinarian by the end of December 2016.  The Progress Report affirms that all of the affected drug sponsors have committed in writing to making the changes described in the guidance by the end of 2016.  The report also includes information about FDA’s efforts on outreach to industry and efforts to improve data collection.  A copy of the Progress Report can be found here.

    USDA Launches “One Health” Web Portal

    On June 29th, USDA announced the creation of a web-based portal to help stakeholders and the public better access agency information.   The page features USDA’s collective body of work on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), avian influenza and swine influenza as well as other One Health resources.  USDA’s One Health approach embraces the idea that a disease problem impacting the health of humans, animals, and the environment can only be solved through improved communication, cooperation, and collaboration across disciplines and institutions.  Using this collaborative approach, USDA, with its partners, seeks to maintain or reduce health risks to animals, humans, the environment and society.  USDA has also released a One Health Fact Sheet in June to help promote the department’s approach.

    SoAR Foundation Publishes Report Supporting Agricultural Research

    In June 2016, the SoAR Foundation, published a report entitled “Retaking the Field: The Case for a Surge in Agricultural Research.” The report is intended to help make the case to policymakers and the public for increased federal agricultural research funding by celebrating the advances and exploring the untapped potential of the agriculture and food sciences.  SoAR is conducting briefings with Congress regarding the report to help build support for increased investments in agricultural research.  More information on SoAR and the report can be found at the following website:  http://supportagresearch.org/retakingthefield/

    Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Reach Agreement on GMO Labeling

    Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced on June 23rd that they had reached an agreement on legislation to address the labeling of GMO products.  The agreement represents a bipartisan compromise aimed at establishing a national policy for GMO labeling and stopping the efforts by some states that would have created a patchwork of labeling requirements for the food industry.

    The State of Vermont was one of the first states to enact its own labeling policy, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016.  Under the Senate agreement, the Vermont law, and others like it, would be preempted.  The Senate agreement also provides options for the food industry to provide consumers with GMO related information without stigmatizing the use of biotechnology.

    A copy of the Senate agreement can be found here.  The full Senate is expected to vote on the legislation when it returns after July 4th.  The House passed its version of GMO labeling legislation in 2015, which contains several differences with the Senate version.  Given the timing of the Vermont law going into effect, supporters of the Senate agreement will be urging members of the House to approve the Senate version quickly.

    Legislators Fight Against “Meatless Mondays” in the Military

    Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Senator Jodi Ernst (R-IA) have introduced legislation that would prohibit the military from participating in “meatless Mondays”.  Congressman Smith was successful in including the language as an amendment to the House version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017, which was passed on June 16th.  The current Senate version of the defense appropriations bill, which has passed through the Appropriations Committee, but not the Senate floor, does not include the language.

    Congress Considers Changes to Catfish Inspection Program

    Historically, inspections of catfish have been under the jurisdiction of the FDA.  That policy changed in the 2008 Farm Bill when the inspection authority was moved to the USDA.  The move was championed by southern lawmakers in an attempt to assist the domestic catfish industry and slow imports of catfish from Asia.  Efforts are now underway to move the inspection program back to FDA.  Proponents of the switch back to FDA site a GAO report stating that the program is duplicative and results in wasteful spending.  Vietnam has also threatened to challenge the policy in the World Trade Organization.  Legislation moving the program back to FDA passed the Senate in late May and a group of lawmakers are now working to advance the legislation in the House.  Debate on the issue is getting heated as lawmakers from the South, joined by some northern Democrats who believe the USDA program is more rigorous for food safety are pushing to keep the program at USDA.

    May
    June 3, 2016

    USDA Seeks Stakeholder Input on Research Priorities

    The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have recently developed an online mechanism to solicit input on animal science research priorities.  ARS and NIFA are seeking input on how Federal investments can best address current needs and challenges facing animal production.  The ideas you provide will help form the framework for developing the next ARS National Program Action Plan and defining priorities for NIFA’s animal production research, education and extension.

    If you are interested in providing your insight by suggesting, refining, and prioritizing ideas around any of the topics listed below, send an email with your name, affiliation, email address, and topic of interest (in the format provided below) to Insight@nifa.usda.gov by June 6th. You will receive instructions on how to join.  The system will be open throughout the month of June 2016 and operate much like a Wikipedia site.  Space is limited, so those interested in participating are encourage to register as soon as possible.

    Topic 1:  Animal Genetics, Genomics and BioinformaticsTopic 2:  Applications of Biotechnology to Animal ProductionTopic 3.  Animal Well-Being, Stress and ProductionTopic 4:  Animal Reproductive BiologyTopic 5:  Quality, Nutritional Value and Healthfulness of Animal ProductsTopic 6: Lactation Biology and Nutritional Efficiency of AnimalsTopic 7: Animal Growth Biology and Alternatives to Antimicrobials for Growth PromotionTopic 8: Forages and Forage Utilization for Animal ProductionTopic 9: Reducing Environmental Impacts of Animal ProductionTopic 10: General Priorities for Animal ProductionFirst NameLast NameAffiliationEmailAddressTopic(s) of Interest

    (Please list the topics by your preference: Example Topic 6, Topic 4, and Topic 9)

    USDA Dedicates $6 Million to Research on Antimicrobial Resistance

    On May 2nd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will be making $6 million available through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to support research related to antimicrobial resistance.  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated that, "Through our Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics, and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics,".  Research supported under this announcement will help advance efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health.

    Applications are due August 3, 2016 and must address one or more of the following areas:

    • Develop novel systems approaches to investigate the ecology of microbial resistance microbes and gene reservoirs in the environment in animals, in crops, in food products, or in farm-raised aquaculture products.
    • Develop, evaluate, and implement effective and sustainable resources and strategies, to include alternative practices, techniques, technologies or tools that mitigate emergence, spread or persistence of antimicrobial resistant pathogens within the agricultural ecosystem, in animals, in crops, and in food.
    • Identify critical control points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in the pre- and post-harvest food production environment.
    • Design innovative training, education, and outreach resources (including web-based resources) that can be adapted by users across the food chain, including policy makers, producers, processors, retailers and consumers.

    More details about the program and the Request for Applications can be found here.

    Legislation Introduced to Restrict Livestock Ownership by Meatpackers

    On May 10th, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation that would prohibit meatpackers from owning livestock intended for slaughter.  Recent moves by Tyson Foods to acquire Hillshire Brands and JBS USA to purchase and Cargill’s pork operations prompted Grassley to introduce the legislation.  Grassley has offered similar bills in the past as he has worked to prevent further consolidation in the meat industry.  The bill, S. 2911, has been criticized by the meatpacking industry.  Industry representatives have stated that adoption of the legislation would be detrimental to producers, packers and consumers.

    USDA Announces Availability of $130 Million in AFRI Funds

    On May 16th, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced that $130 million would be available in fiscal year 2016 for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Foundational Program.   The AFRI Foundational Program funds projects that continue building a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences. The Foundational Program addresses six priority areas of the 2014 Farm Bill, with various amounts of funding allocated to each priority area. Funding for 2016 is allocated as follows plant health and production and plant products, $33 million; animal health and production and animal products, $31 million; food safety, nutrition and health, $19 million; bioenergy, natural resources and environment, $14 million; agriculture systems and technology, $11 million; and agriculture economics and rural communities, $17 million.  The $31 million available for animal health and production and animal products is up from approximately $28 million in FY 2015 and continues the recent trend in increases to this component of the Foundational Program.

    Application submission deadlines vary by program.  Below are some deadlines relevant to the animal sciences:

    July 14, 2016

    • Animal Reproduction
    • Animal Nutrition, Growth and Lactation
    • Animal Well-Being
    • Animal Health and Disease
    • Tools and Resources - Immune Reagents for Agricultural Animals

    August 3, 2016

    • Tools and Resources - Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics

    The full Request for Applications can be found on the NIFA website by click here.

    NAS Publishes Report on Genetically Engineered Crops

    On May 17th, the National Academies of Science published a study entitled Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects.  The study looked at available data to examine the effects that genetically engineered crops have on human health and the environment.  The study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops.  The committee also did not find any conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from GE crops.  However, the report does flag evolved resistance to current GE characteristics in crops as a significant issue.  The committee recommends that it is the end product of genetic engineering that should be the subject of potential regulation, and not the technology applied.

    In addition to looking at safety issues, the study finds that the distinction between conventional breeding and genetic engineering is becoming less obvious.  New technologies in gene editing are blurring the lines between conventional breeding techniques and genetic engineering.

    The National Academy of Sciences has developed a website with additional information about the report that can be found by clicking here.  The study was sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the New Venture Fund, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with additional support from the National Academy of Sciences.

    Senate Committee Approves FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On May 19th, the Senate Appropriations Committee met to consider its version of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  The bill was approved unanimously and includes $21.25 billion in discretionary funding, $250 million below the FY2016 enacted level. Mandatory funding in the bill totals $126.5 billion, for a total of $147.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding. The overall funding level is $21.7 billion below the President’s budget request and $7.1 billion above the FY2016 enacted level.

    Within the research accounts, the Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.178 billion, an $35 million increase over FY 2016.  Included in this increase is an additional $2 million for poultry production and health research and $1 million for workforce development related to the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.  The committee bill also includes $64.3 million for ARS Buildings and Facilities to continue funding projects prioritized in the ARS Capital Investment Strategy.  For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), most accounts were funded at the same level as last year, the major exception being the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which received a $25 million increase from $350 million to $375 million.  A summary of selected key accounts is listed below:

     

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2016 – FINAL
    FY 2017 – President’s Budget
    FY 2017 - House
    FY 2017 - Senate
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.143 billion
    $1.161 billion
    $1.151 billion
    $1.178 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $212 million
    $94.5 million
    $99.6 million
    $64.3 million
    NIFA Research and Education
    $819.6 million
    $836.9 million
    $832.8 million
    $851.5 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $350 million
    $375 million (discretionary) $325 million (mandatory)
    $375 million (discretionary) $0(mandatory)
    $375 million (discretionary) $0(mandatory)
    ExpandedSection 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    $4 million
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $475.8 million
    $501.8 million
    $477.3 million
    $476.2 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $35.2 million
    $30.9 million
    $36 million

    Floor action for the Senate and House version of the bill has not been scheduled at this time.  Given that this is an election year it is uncertain at this time whether either of the bills will reach the floor for consideration.      More details on the Senate committee bill and report can be found at the following links:     Bill Text       Committee Report

    April
    May 6, 2016

    FDA Finalizes Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

    On April 5th, the Food and Drug Administration released the FSMA Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. The rule establishes requirements for shippers, loaders, carriers by motor or rail vehicle, and receivers involved in transporting human and animal food to use sanitary practices to ensure the safety of that food. Key requirements of the rule include:

    Vehicles and transportation equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.

    Transportation operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.

    Training:Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training. This training is required when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.

    Records:Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred, but does not exceed 12 months.

    Small businesses will have two years to comply with the regulation, while all other businesses will have one year to comply. FDA has developed a fact sheet on the rule, and more information can be found here.

    USDA Proposes Organic Animal Welfare Regulations

    On April 7th, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a proposed rule regarding organic livestock and poultry production practices. According to AMS, the proposal is designed to provide clear guidance for organic producers and handlers to provide for their animal’s welfare.

    Major provisions of the proposed rule include:

    • Clarifying how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter.
    • Specifying which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.
    • Establishing minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.

    AMS asserts that the rule is needed to ensure a consistent standard for organic production and will strengthen consumer confidence in organic meat, poultry and eggs. The rule has drawn criticism from some in industry, particularly large egg producers. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has also expressed concern with the egg provision requiring producers to “train” their chickens to go outside to enriched environments. Sen. Roberts is preparing a letter to USDA detailing his questions and concerns.

    More information on the proposed rule can be found on the AMS website including text of the proposed rule and a questions and answers document.

    USDA Amends Dairy Margin Protection Program to Incorporate Intergenerational Transfers

    On April 12th, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced changes to the Margin Protection Program (MPP) that will enable participating dairy farms to update their production history when an eligible family member joins the operation. As a result of the change, when children, grandchildren or their spouses become part of a dairy operation that is enrolled in MPP, the production from the dairy cows they bring with them into the business can now be protected. The change is intended to help new dairy farmers get started in the family business and ensure that safety net coverage remains available for growing farms.

    The MPP is a voluntary program established in the 2014 Farm Bill to help protect participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below a selected level of protection. The program changes are effective on April 13, 2016. Any dairy operation already enrolled in the Margin Protection Program that had an intergenerational transfer occur will have an opportunity to increase the dairy operations production history during the 2017 registration and annual coverage election period. More information on the MPP program can be found here.

    House Committee Approves FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On April 19th, the House Appropriations Committee met to consider its version of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The bill provides $21.3 billion in discretionary spending, including funds for agricultural research. Within the research accounts, the Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.151 billion, an $8 million increase over FY 2016. The committee bill also includes $99.6 million for ARS Buildings and Facilities to continue funding projects prioritized in the ARS Capital Investment Strategy. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), most accounts were funded at the same level as last year, the major exception being the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which received a $25 million increase from $350 million to $375 million. A summary of selected key accounts is listed below:

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2016 – FINAL
    FY 2017 – President’s Budget
    FY 2017 – House
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.143 billion
    $1.161 billion
    $1.151 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $212 million
    $94.5 million
    $99.6 million
    NIFA Research and Education
    $819.6 million
    $836.9 million
    $832.8 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $350 million
    $375 million (discretionary) $325 million (mandatory)
    $375 million (discretionary) $0 (mandatory)
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $475.8 million
    $501.8 million
    $477.3 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $35.2 million
    $30.9 million

    The committee continues to express its concern for animal welfare at ARS research locations. While the committee acknowledges in its report that some of the claims made in the 2015 New York Times article alleging problems at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center were exaggerated or taken out of context, the committee states very clearly no type of abuse or mistreatment will be tolerated. The report also contains language demanding that all animals be treated humanely and that the risk of premature death will be limited wherever possible.

    Floor action for the House Bill has not been scheduled at this time. It is expected that the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will mark-up its version of the bill in the coming weeks. More details on the House committee bill and report can be found at the following links: Bill Text  / Committee Report

    March
    April 1, 2016

    Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Meets in DC

    The Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria met in Washington, DC on March 30-31.  The Advisory Council heard reports from five working groups including: Antibiotic Stewardship; One Health Surveillance; Diagnostic Innovations; Treatment, Prevention and Control Research and Development; and International Collaboration on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB). The council considered a report which outlines recommendations related to human medicine and government implementation of the national action plan.  Recommendations address issues including:

    • Phasing out antibiotic use for growth promotion in food animals
    • Increased veterinary oversight
    • Enhanced surveillance
    • Educational outreach
    • Development of alternatives

    The plan is drawing some criticism from public health interest groups because they believe the effort should include specific targets for the reduction of antibiotic use in animal agriculture.  More information on the Advisory Council meeting can be found here.

    House Holds Hearing on Agriculture Research Appropriations

    On March 16th, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the President's FY 2017 budget request for the USDA's Research, Education and Economics Mission Area and agencies.  Witnesses included Under Secretary Cathy Woteki, ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young, NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy, ERS Administrator Mary Bowman and NASS Administrator Joe Reilly.  USDA testimony included several examples of high priority animal science that would be funded through the President's budget request including, antibiotic resistance, foreign animal disease and avian influenza.

    Members of the subcommittee expressed general support and recognition for the importance of agricultural research.  However, concerns were raised with the President's proposal to use mandatory funding to elevate investment in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to reach the program’s fully authorized level of $700 million.  Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) called the proposal a "budget gimmick".

    Concerns also continue to be raised regarding animal care issues within ARS and the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (US-MARC).  There was interest in the status of the Inspector General's report and how ARS is working with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that good animal care practices are being used across the agency.  More information on the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

    The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to hold a hearing specific to agricultural research, but Secretary Vilsack did highlight the importance of research during in his testimony to the subcommittee during an overall USDA budget hearing held on March 9th.  A copy of his testimony can be found here.

    Pew Report Recommends Changes to FSIS Residue Program

    On March 9th, the Pew Charitable Trusts released a report criticizing the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) implementation of the National Residue Program (NRP).  The NRP is a testing program to designed to control residues of drug, pesticide and environmental contaminants in meat, poultry and egg products.

    The Pew Charitable Trusts evaluated the process by which the NRP tests for veterinary drugs and other chemical compounds as part of its larger efforts to determine risks in the U.S. meat and poultry supply. This study focused on whether the NRP is monitoring high priority compounds, whether changes need to be made to the monitoring process and how the system incorporates new scientific evidence and address emerging hazards.  According to the report, there are major deficiencies in data transparency and the quality of reporting on the decision-making processes underlying compound selection, the documentation of the sampling plans, and the reporting of sampling results. The study also raises concerns about the NRP’s ability to effectively monitor or respond to emerging risks.

    A full copy of the report and its recommendations can be found by clicking here.

    FDA Finalizes BSE Regulations

    On March 17th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the publication of a final rule designed to further reduce the potential risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease,” in human food.  The final rule provides definitions for prohibited cattle materials and prohibits their use in human food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics, to address the potential risk of BSE. These materials include:

    • Specified risk materials (SRMs ): brain, skull, eyes, trigeminal ganglia, spinal cord, vertebral column (excluding the vertebrae of the tail, the transverse processes of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, and the wings of the sacrum), and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of cattle 30 months of age and older, and the tonsils and distal ileum of the small intestine from all cattle.
    • The small intestine from all cattle unless the distal ileum has been properly removed,
    • Material from nonambulatory disabled cattle,
    • Material from cattle not inspected and passed, or mechanically separated (MS) (Beef).

    A copy of the final rule can be found here.

    FSIS Proposes Changes to Trichinae Regulations

    On March 18th, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a proposed rule that would consolidate and streamline existing regulations for meat and poultry products. The intention of the rule is to eliminate redundant trichinae control requirements for pork and pork products and consolidate regulations for thermally processed, commercially sterile meat and poultry products.  Currently, facilities are required to administer prescribed treatment of pork products for trichinae, in addition to implementing a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan.  Under the proposed rule, the separate trichinae requirements would be eliminated and facilities would address trichinae and other food safety issues through HACCP.  FSIS has also posted draft guidance for industry that can be found here.

    NAS Appoints Committee to Study Future of Biotechnology

    On March 22nd, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced that it has provisionally named 13 people to serve on a committee to study the "Future Biotechnology Products and Opportunities to Enhance Capabilities of the Biotechnology Regulatory System".  The study is designed to answer the following questions:

    "What will the likely future products of biotechnology be over the next 5-10 years?"

    "What scientific capabilities, tools, and/or expertise may be needed by the regulatory agencies to ensure they make efficient and sound evaluations of the likely future products of biotechnology?"

    According to the Statement of Task, the committee will:

    • Describe the major advances and the potential new types of biotechnology products likely to emerge over the next 5-10 years.
    • Describe the existing risk analysis system for biotechnology products including, but perhaps not limited to, risk analyses developed and used by EPA, USDA, and FDA, and describe each agency’s authorities as they pertain to the products of biotechnology.
    • Determine whether potential future products could pose different types of risks relative to existing products and organisms. Where appropriate, identify areas in which the risks or lack of risks relating to the products of biotechnology are well understood.
    • Indicate what scientific capabilities, tools, and expertise may be useful to the regulatory agencies to support oversight of potential future products of biotechnology.

    The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on April 18th.  More information on the study can be found here.

    February Presentation Recording from the ADSA Board Meeting
    March 11, 2016
    February
    March 10, 2016

    President Releases FY 2017 Budget Proposal

    On February 9th, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, the last of his presidency.  FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in budget briefings with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and REE Under Secretary Cathy Woteki as they rolled out the President's budget.  Included in the $4.15 trillion in proposed spending is funding for agriculture research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The total amount requested for USDA discretionary spending on research, education and economics activities is $2.9 billion.

    The largest increase for USDA research programs comes in the form of a request for $700 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).  This would double the current funding available for AFRI and bring the program to its fully authorized level.  The President’s budget requests $375 million in discretionary funding and $325 million in mandatory funding.  Bringing mandatory funding to AFRI would be a new approach, and may face some resistance within Congress.

    Nonetheless, it is very encouraging that the President’s budget request recognizes the critical importance of agriculture research and proposes to fully fund AFRI.  Funding for most other major NIFA programs, including capacity funds, would remain at FY 2016 levels.

    In keeping with recent Presidential budget proposals, there is no funding requested for Section 1433.  This account received $4 million in FY 2016 and strong efforts are expected this year to try and increase funding for the program.  This section was expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to create a new competitive grants program focused on animal science research.  The expanded program will address the priority focal areas of food security, one health and stewardship that were identified through the FAIR 2012 process.

    The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would receive $1.286 billion under the President's proposal.  Within this request there is a $13 million increase requested for Livestock Protection research, raising that program from $93 million to $106 million.  The President’s budget request would also increase Livestock Production research from $87 million to $89 million.  Also included is $94.5 million for buildings and facilities, which would enable ARS to continue addressing needs at facilities that have been identified as high priority through the agency’s Capital Investment Strategy.

    Below is a table reflecting the final fiscal year 2016 appropriations and the President's fiscal year 2017 request for selected agriculture appropriations accounts.  More details on the proposed 2017 budget for USDA can be found here.

    Account
    FY 2016 – Final
    FY 2017 – President’s Request
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.355 billion
    $1.286 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $212 million
    $94.5 million
    NIFA Total – Discretionary Programs
    $1.338 billion
    $1.379 billion
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    AFRI
    $350 million
    $700 million ($375 million discretionary / $325 million mandatory)
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0

    FASS Signs Coalition Appropriations Letters

    With the release of the President’s FY 2017 Budget, coalitions have begun the process of developing their appropriations requests for Congressional support.  FASS is an active participant in a number of coalitions working to support agricultural research and animal agriculture more broadly.  Below are examples of coalitions in which FASS is participating:

    AFRI Coalition

    On February 23rd, the AFRI Coalition sent a letter to leaders of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in support of funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program.  The letter requests that Congress provide $700 million for the AFRI program in fiscal year 2017.  This would bring the AFRI program to its fully authorized level and meet the President’s FY 2017 budget request for the program.  Funding the AFRI program at $700 million would enable the support of high priority agricultural research including important areas within the animal sciences such as foreign animal disease and antibiotic resistance.  The American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and FASS were among 31 organizations that signed the coalition letter.  A copy of the letter can be found here.

    Animal Agriculture Coalition

    FASS joined over 50 animal agriculture related organizations in signing the Animal Agriculture Coalition’s letters to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees.  The letters, which can be found here (House, Senate), urge support for key USDA research programs, as well as important animal programs within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Friends of the Agricultural Research Service Coalition

    ADSA and FASS also signed letters to the House and Senate sponsored by the Friends of the Agricultural Research Service (FARS) Coalition in support of the ARS budget.  The letters highlight a number of key ARS budget initiatives including efforts to address foreign animal diseases and avian influenza.  A copy of the FARS Coalition letters can be found here (House, Senate).

    Leadership Changes at FDA

    On February 24th, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf as the new Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Dr. Califf served as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco from February 2015 until his appointment as commissioner in February 2016.  Prior to joining FDA, he was professor of medicine and vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at Duke University.  Carliff also served as director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute and founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.  He takes over FDA at a time with the agency is working on a number of high profile issues important to the food and agriculture sector including implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, antibiotic resistance and GMO labeling.

    Also in February, Dr. Bernadette Dunham announced that she would be leaving the role of Director for the Center of Veterinary Medicine.  She has served as Director since 2008 and provided strong leadership to the agency during her tenure.  Dr. Dunham will leave in April to participate in a One Health collaborative effort between the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University and the FDA.  An FDA release on her transition can be found here.

    Senate Committee Clears GMO Labeling Bill

    On March 1st, the Senate Agriculture Committee met to consider legislation regarding labeling of products with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  The legislation, sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, would establish a national standard for GMO labeling and prevent states from creating their own patchwork of labeling requirements.  The bill passed the committee by a vote of 14-6, which reflected unanimous support from Republicans plus three of the committee’s Democrats.  More information on the Senate bill can be found here.  Committee passage paves the way for full Senate consideration.  The House passed similar legislation last year.

    House Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing on FMD

    On February 11th, the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the preparedness of the United States in the event of the introduction of foot and mouth disease (FMD) into the United States. Witnesses included scientists from veterinary schools, practicing veterinarians and industry members.  Testimony and questioning centered around what steps have been taken and what still needs to be done to achieve the objective of establishing a vaccine stockpile deployable within 24 hours of an outbreak.  More information on the hearing can be found here.

    House Homeland Security Committee Holds Hearing on Agriculture Defense

    On February 23rd, the House Homeland Security Committee’s Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the risk to the nation from a terrorist attack or natural disruption to our agricultural or food systems.  Witnesses included representatives from industry, academia and state government.  The witnesses discussed public and private sector prevention, planning, and preparedness activities aimed at reducing vulnerabilities of the food and agricultural sector to an intentional attack or natural disruption.  More information about the hearing can be found here.

    January
    Febuary 4, 2016

    USDA Announces Funding Opportunity for Fellowships

    On January 27 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $18.9 million in competitive grants to support fellowships and other higher education training projects in food, nutrition, natural resources, and agriculture fields. These fellowships are administered through US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture and will support pre- and postdoctoral fellowships, undergraduate fellowships, and professional development for secondary school teachers and educational professionals. According to USDA, funded fellowships will span the six challenge areas identified by AFRI: childhood obesity prevention, climate change, food safety, food security, sustainable bioenergy, and water. Additional information on the program, eligibility requirements, and deadlines can be found here.

    FASS Washington Representatives Present at Annual Department Heads Meeting

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the annual meeting of the animal, dairy, and poultry science department heads on January 26 to 27 in San Diego. Lowell and Walt led a discussion on the current political forecast in Washington, DC, including issues related to the effect of agriculture research funding and policy issues on the animal sciences. Other issues discussed at the meeting included a recent Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) report on deferred maintenance and regional reviews of multistate projects. The meeting was held in conjunction with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention.

    Forum on Antimicrobial Stewardship Held in Washington, DC

    On January 20 to 21 the APLU, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), Farm Foundation, and the Economic Research Service held a forum titled “Antimicrobial Stewardship: Policy, Education and Economics.” The forum was attended by approximately 150 representatives from government, academia, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the meeting.

    Speakers included high level officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA as well as representatives from universities and the private sector. Much discussion centered around the government’s recent actions to improve antimicrobial stewardship, including the President’s Executive Order on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the government’s National Action Plan, and FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive and related guidance.

    In addition, the Farm Foundation and APLU/AAVMC discussed their recent activities related to antibiotic resistance. The Farm Foundation recently conducted a series of 12 regional educational workshops to provide livestock producers, feed suppliers, veterinarians, and support service organizations information about recent policy changes. The results of these workshops can be found on the Farm Foundation website.

    APLU and AAVMC reported on the results of their joint Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture. The task force produced a document outlining recommendations for education, outreach, and research. A copy of the report can be found here. The Farm Foundation, APLU, and AAVMC all indicated plans to continue work to address the complex issue of antimicrobial stewardship. It is anticipated that additional meetings will be held in different regions around the country to increase awareness and identify ways to address the recommendations contained in the reports.

    FFAR Calls for Nominations for New Innovator Award and Advisory Councils

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is busy working to develop new programs and policies. One of the first programs announced is the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Award. The award is designed to support, through grants of up to $200,000 per year over three years, standout food and agriculture scientists within the first three years of a tenure-track or equivalent career. Awardees will possess innovative ideas with the potential to propel a specific area of food and agriculture science forward. Institutions of higher education are invited to nominate one outstanding individual. Please be prepared to submit via online form the nominee name, department, title, institution, and area of research. More information on the New Innovator program can be found here.

    FFAR is also seeking Advisory Council members who will play an important role in advising the FFAR staff and board on future programming decisions and other ways in which the Foundation may fulfill its mission to build unique partnerships to support innovative research addressing today’s agricultural challenges. Knowledge and experience is sought in each of FFAR's seven research target areas. More information on the Advisory Council can be found here. Nominations for both programs were due on January 20, 2016.

    In addition to these programs, FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey has announced that one of the next programs initiated by the foundation will address rapid response to emerging issues. While details about how the program will operate are not yet available, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Rapid Response Program is intended to allow for the nimble deployment of research, education, and outreach support from FFAR in the event of a sudden and unanticipated threat to the nation’s food supply or agricultural systems. This rapid funding can serve as a bridge to traditional funding sources that require more time and capacity to obtain.

    USDA and HHS Release New Dietary Guidelines

    On December 7 the USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. The guidelines had come under fire for controversial provisions being considered that were critical of the meat industry. The guidelines advisory committee had recommended the inclusion of environmental sustainability as a consideration and cited concerns about the environmental impact of animal agriculture. The advisory committee also suggested dropping lean meat from recommendations for a healthy diet.

    However, in the final version, USDA and HHS stuck to recommendations related to diet and nutrition and did not include provisions related to environmental sustainability. The new version also maintains the recommendation that lean meat is part of a healthy diet. The guidelines also include recommendations for the inclusion of fat-free or low-fat dairy in the diet. Animal industry groups commended USDA and HHS for sticking to diet and nutrition and acknowledging the science supporting the inclusion of lean meats in a healthy diet.

    Highlights of the dietary guidelines can be found below:

    • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
    • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
    • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume in an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
    • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
    • Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

    A healthy eating pattern includes:

    • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
    • Fruits, especially whole fruits
    • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
    • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
    • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
    • Oils

    A healthy eating pattern limits:

    • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

    Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

    • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars [2].
    • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats [3].
    • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium [4].
    • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

    A copy of the guidelines can be found here.

    2015

    December
    January 6, 2016

    Congress Reaches Agreement on FY 2016 Omnibus

    On December 16, House and Senate leaders reached agreement on an omnibus appropriations package for fiscal year 2016. The package will fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year and also includes several policy provisions related to agriculture.

    The bipartisan debt deal enacted earlier this fall eased spending caps and provided $80 billion in additional funding for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. As a result, Congress was able to improve on the funding level for a number of accounts in the agriculture appropriations bill. For agriculture research, the largest increases were for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) building and facilities. AFRI receives $350 million in the omnibus, a $25 million increase over 2015. ARS building and facilities receives $212 million, up from the $45 million provided in 2015. This funding will allow for the completion of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory and begin work on other high priority ARS facilities.

    From a policy perspective, the omnibus includes language reinforcing the provisions included in the House and Senate versions of the bill regarding animal care at ARS. Congress continues to express concern over the USDA response to allegations of animal mistreatment at the US Meat Animal Research Center. The omnibus withholds $57 million from ARS until the Secretary certifies to Congress that ARS has updated its animal care policies and that all labs conducting animal research have functioning Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCS).

    The omnibus includes language related to the updating of dietary guidelines. Much controversy has surrounded the dietary guidelines process as the draft version provided by the Advisory Committee was very critical of the meat industry. The draft moved away from recommending lean meat as a part of a healthy diet and included considerations based on environmental sustainability. The omnibus directs USDA and HHS to focus solely on diet and nutrition and ensure that the guidelines are based on strong scientific evidence.

    Congress also responded through the omnibus to repeal the mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat and poultry. The World Trade Organization has ruled that these requirements violated U.S. trade obligations and has authorized Mexico and Canada to retaliate with over $1 billion in tariffs. The repeal will help bring the U.S. back into compliance and avoid retaliation from Mexico and Canada.

    Lawmakers debated other labeling provisions while finalizing omnibus. Industry unsuccessfully attempted to include language that would have prohibited states from creating their own GMO labeling requirements. At the same time, language was included to direct FDA in fiscal year not to allow the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food that contains genetically engineered salmon until FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content.

    The following table show the funding levels for selected agricultural research accounts.

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts<

    Account
    FY 2015 – FINAL
    FY 2016 – President's Budget
    FY 2016 – Omnibus
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.132 billion
    $1.191 billion
    $1.143 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $45 million
    $205 million
    $212 million
    NIFA Research and Education
    $787 million
    $998 million
    $819 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $325 million
    $450 million
    $350 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $472 million
    $475 million
    $475 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $29 million
    $30.9 million

    Congress passed the omnibus shortly before leaving adjourning for the remainder of the year. President Obama signed the bill into law on December 18th. A copy of the omnibus appropriations bill can be found on the House Rules Committee website by clicking here.

    Riley Memorial Foundation Hosts Meeting on Unified Message

    On December 9th, the Riley Memorial Foundation (RMF) hosted a meeting with representatives from scientific societies to discuss efforts to develop a unified message in support of agricultural research. The meeting was held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and included a broad group of scientific societies. Representatives from ADSA, ASAS and PSA all participated in the meeting. Washington Representative, Lowell Randel, who serves as a member of the RMF Board, was also in attendance.

    The RMF has been working to develop a unified message to bolster support for agricultural research for the last two years. They held a kickoff meeting in December 2014 to announce the effort and also met with university associations earlier in 2015. The goal of the effort is to build broad based support across agriculture, food, and natural resources for a singular message that can be communicated to policy makers in an attempt to increase federal investments. The RMF plans to hold additional meetings in 2016 to further the goal. More information can be found on the RMF website by clicking here.

    FSIS Announces Actions on Residues and Chemicals

    On December 23rd, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service announced that it will be standardizing its approach for dealing with meat, poultry and catfish samples that test positive for drugs or other substances that do not have set tolerance levels. Such testing occurs as part of the National Residue Program's (NRP's) Tier 2 exploratory program.

    The new policy will apply to substances such as environmental contaminants, heavy metals, industrial chemicals and mycotoxins. FSIS will establish de minimis levels for chemicals. When a residue is found above the set level, FSIS will notify the FDA, EPA, or other appropriate federal partners for possible trace-back investigations and consideration of potential mitigation actions. A copy of the Federal Register notice can be found here.

    USDA Issues Final Rule on Exemption of Organic Products from Checkoffs

    On December 30th, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service issued a Final Rule entitled: "Exemption of Organic Products from Assessment under a Commodity Promotion Law." The regulation is required by a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill. The rule amends the current regulations to allow persons that produce, handle, market, process, manufacture, feed, or import "organic" and "100 percent organic" products to be exempt from paying assessments associated with commodity promotion activities, regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also produces, handles, markets, processes, manufactures, feeds, or imports conventional or nonorganic products. Currently, only persons that exclusively produce and market products certified as 100 percent organic are eligible for an exemption from assessments under commodity promotion programs. The rule change will apply to all checkoff programs administered by AMS including those for beef, dairy and eggs. The final rule will become effective in March 2016.

    November
    December 7, 2015

    FASS Participates in OSTP Meeting on Raising the Profile of Agriculture

    On December 1st, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) held a meeting entitle "Raising the Profile of Agriculture". The meeting was attended by approximately 100 representatives from academia, industry and government to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, with a focus on identifying strategies to address workforce development to meet the projected shortfall in trained scientists and other agricultural workers needed to meet future demand. The animal sciences were well represented in the meeting including FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated, FASS Science Policy Committee Past President Matt Koci, ADSA representative Ken Olson and others.

    The morning program began with presentations from federal agencies including the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy and the Department of Education. Plenary presentations were then given by Wendy Wintersteen of Iowa State University, Steven Rhines of the Noble Foundation and Matthew Dillon of Clif Bar and Company. Each of the speakers stressed the critical importance of a strong agricultural research system to meet societal grand challenges and the need for building partnerships and developing a unified message in support of agricultural research. The morning program ended with a panel discussion with student leaders from the National FFA Organization, 4-H, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS).

    The afternoon program included breakout sessions where small groups discussed various aspects of raising the profile of agriculture. Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science at OSTP opened and closed the meeting and expressed appreciation for the input received during the meeting. Dr. Handelsman indicated that OSTP will be examining the recommendations made and explore options to advance the cause of raising the profile of agriculture.

    OSTP Seeks Input on Agriculture Innovation

    On November 5th, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on future innovations in agriculture. The purpose of the RFI is to discover new ideas that will spur innovation in agriculture and food systems and raise the profile of agricultural research. OSTP is seeking information about programs, public or private, that are actively working to innovate agricultural science, as well as areas of need in research, education, and training. Input is sought from biological and agricultural stakeholders, including researchers in academia and industry, non-governmental organizations, scientific and professional societies, and other interested members of the public.

    The RFI includes the following list of questions for which it is seeking feedback:

    1. Over the next ten years, what are the most important research gaps that must be addressed to advance agricultural innovation?
    2. What interdisciplinary agriculture and food programs successfully impact agricultural innovation?
    3. What elementary, middle, and high school outreach programs are successful examples of introducing students to agricultural careers, and what are examples of effective ways to introduce agriculture to suburban and urban students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)?
    4. How can colleges and universities recruit STEM undergraduates into agricultural disciplines? What effect, if any, do introductory courses that engage students in discovery-based research have for this purpose?
    5. What resources are fundamental to addressing agricultural research needs?
    6. What further training is needed among agricultural professionals to take advantage of advances in agriculture research?
    7. Is there any additional information, not requested above, that you believe OSTP should consider in identifying crucial areas of agricultural research?

    A full copy of the RFI can be found by clicking here. Responses can be provided through a web form on the OSTP site. They are due by December 4, 2015.

    Congress Working on Omnibus Appropriations Bill

    The federal government is currently funded through a continuing resolution that expires on December 11th. Congress is working to craft an omnibus appropriations bill that will provide funding for the remainder of FY 2016. One hurdles facing the appropriations process appears to have been avoided based on the announcement of language to restore funding for the federal crop insurance program as a part of the surface transportation reauthorization bill. Approximately $3 billion was cut from the crop insurance program as a part of the budget/debt legislation passed earlier this fall. Congressional leaders had agreed to restore the funding as a part of the omnibus spending package. This could have created significant pressure on other agriculture accounts, including research, should the Appropriations Committees have been required to find offsets to fund crop insurance. Instead, Congress found a way to fund crop insurance as a part of the transportation bill, which is scheduled for final action in December.

    USDA Hosts Listening Sessions on Public Access to Science

    On November 10th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that is seeking public comment on the development of a policy to increase access to the results of federally-funded agricultural research. USDA will receive comments during two live teleconferences and via email through Dec. 9, 2015. USDA has stated that the goal is to help stakeholders understand and participate in planning for an increase in public access to scholarly publications and scientific data funded by USDA.

    The two webinars and their topics have been scheduled. The first was held on November 23rd and focused on policy impacts related to scholarly papers. The second will be held on December 4th. Additional detail on the second webinar can be found below:

    Friday, December 4, 2015, 2:00pm EST: Policy impacts related to scientific data

    Participant Instructions:

    The conference begins at 2:00 PM Eastern Time on December 04, 2015; you may join 10 minutes prior.

    Step 1: http://ems7.intellor.com/login/700706

    Step 2: Instructions for connecting to conference audio will then be presented on your computer

    You will be connected to the conference with the AT&T Connect Web Participant Application - there is no software download or installation required. If you are unable to connect to the conference by computer, you may listen by telephone only at 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633 using 0392090# or Find an Alternate Number If you need technical assistance, call the Help Desk at 1-888-796-6118 or 1-847-562-7015.

    Comments will also be accepted in writing through December 9th by either sending them online to: (USDAresearchaccess@nifa.usda.gov) or mailing them to:

    United States Department of Agriculture
    National Institute of Food and Agriculture
    c/o Paul Tanger, Institute of Food Production and Sustainability
    1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 2240
    Washington, DC 20250-2201

    FDA Approves GE Salmon, Rejects Mandatory GE Labeling Requirement

    On November 19th, FDA announced that it is taking several important steps regarding food from genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals, including the first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon. The agency is issuing two guidances for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from GE or non-GE sources: a draft guidance on labeling foods derived from Atlantic salmon, and a final guidance on foods derived from GE plants.

    The FDA officially approved AquaBounty Technologies' application for AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. FDA ruled that the application submitted regarding AquAdvantage Salmon meets the regulatory requirements for approval. The FDA determined that food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat and as nutritious as food from other non-GE Atlantic salmon and that there are no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

    FDA also ruled that no mandatory labeling of the AquAdvantage Salmon is required. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA can only require additional labeling of foods derived from GE sources if there is a material difference – such as a different nutritional profile – between the GE product and its non-GE counterpart. In the case of the AquAdvantage Salmon, the FDA did not find any such differences.

    In addition to the actions on GE salmon, FDA also issued final guidance on voluntary labeling related to foods derived from GE plants. Again, FDA has found no material difference between GE and non-GE foods that would lead to the requirement of mandatory labeling.

    Additional information on FDA's actions can be found at the following links:

    Press Release

    Draft Guidance on Voluntary Labeling of GE Salmon

    Final Guidance on Voluntary Labeling of Foods Derived from GE Plants

    October
    November 3, 2015

    WHO Releases Report on Cancer and Meat

    On October 26th, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a controversial report claiming that there is a linkage between the consumption of red and processed meat and certain types of cancers. The report places processed meats into issued Category 1, which asserts that there is sufficient evidence to state that process meats causes cancer in humans. The report puts red meat in Category 2A, which signifies the red meat is a probable carcinogen to humans. According to IARC, this classification is based on limited evidence from epidemiological studies showing positive associations between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer as well as strong mechanistic evidence. IARC has published a Q&A on the report, as well as a press release. A summary of the report can be found on The Lancet (free registration required).

    The report drew sharp criticism from the meat industry and commodity organizations. The North American Meat Institute responded with a statement that "the vote by an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph panel classifying red and processed meat as cancer "hazards" defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and many more studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat."

    At the same time, the IARC report served as a catalyst for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to file a petition with USDA calling for a halt of distributing hot dogs and other processed meats to children through the National School Lunch Program.

    On October 29th, IARC released a clarifying statement in response to the questions and criticisms raised by the report. The statement includes, in part, that, "IARC’s review confirms the recommendation in WHO’s 2002 "Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases" report, which advised people to moderate consumption of preserved meat to reduce the risk of cancer. The latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer."

    Debt Deal Struck, Omnibus Appropriations to Follow

    During the last week of October, leaders of the House and Senate struck a deal with the Obama Administration to establish government funding levels for the next two years and suspend the debt limit until March 2017. Funding for FY 2016 will be increased by $50 billion and FY 2017 will receive an additional $30 billion. Increases will be split evenly between defense and non-defense accounts.

    The bipartisan deal was one of House Speaker John Boehner’s last actions before his retirement at the end of the month. While top line spending is now established, Congress must still complete the appropriations process for FY 2016. It is expected that Congress will craft an omnibus appropriations bill before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11th.

    FASS Participates in FAANG Meeting

    On October 7-8, more than 100 scientists, administrators and representatives for commodity groups and funding agencies, met in Washington, D.C. to discuss recent advances and jointly explore new opportunities for genotype-to-phenotype research using domesticated animal species. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel, along with numerous scientific society members, participated in the meeting. The workshop was organized by the Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG) consortium, which seeks to map the functional elements in the genomes of domesticated animals. The National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Illumina Inc. and Iowa State University sponsored the workshop.

    The event included presentations from leaders in the genomics field — John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington; Christine Wells, University of Glasgow; and Paul Flicek, European Bioinformatics Institute — who described the latest in genome function analysis in the human and mouse species. A recurring theme of these presentations was that the domesticated animal community is well-positioned to exploit the knowledge gained in human and rodent projects through adapting technologies, data analysis and in comparative analyses across vertebrate and invertebrate species.

    The workshop’s sessions are available on-line at www.faang.org. Further information on the FAANG consortium, including its recent white paper published in Genome Biology, also are online. Reports on pilot FAANG projects in the U.S. and France included information on the collection and initial analysis of selected tissues and the development of plans for bioinformatic pipelines to collect, share and analyze data. Breakout sessions were held to plan specific approaches to data creation and analysis, with an emphasis on collaboration and sharing.

    Funding agencies from several countries also presented their perspective on FAANG. Representatives of the NSF, USDA, the Canadian Genome Enterprise, the National Institutes of Health, the Research Councils of the United Kingdom, as well as the European Commission presented information on relevant research opportunities for FAANG projects. Several representatives also suggested mechanisms to create new opportunities for research funding, including international research consortia that would organize the research enterprise, and potential joint funding opportunities in which funding agencies would partner to sponsor new competitive grant programs.

    ARS Seeks Input on Animal Health Research Priorities

    The Animal Health National Program Leaders for USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have issued an invitation to stakeholders to assist with identifying research priorities for the next National Program research cycle as well as assess the performance of the Animal Health National Program 103 over the last five years. ARS is encouraging those interested in animal health research programs to fill in the survey found at the following link: http://199.133.10.15/surveys/2015animalhealth/survey.htm The survey will help ARS know the impact of its current programs and the animal health diseases most important as they create the NP 103 Five Year Action Plan.

    September
    October 6, 2016

    Congress Passes CR, Avoids Government Shutdown

    Leaders of the House and Senate were able to pass a short term continuing resolution (CR) on September 30th that funds the government through December 11th. Under the CR, all government programs, including research programs administered by USDA, would be funded at current levels (minus a 0.21 percent reduction across the board). The CR was very controversial, as many Republicans in Congress wanted to use the bill to defund Planned Parenthood amid the recent videos that have been released. House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement on Friday, September 25th that he will be resigning from Congress helped paved the way for passage of a “clean” CR without additional fights to include a Planned Parenthood provision. He had been under strong pressure from some House Republicans to include the defunding provision and was also being targeted for ouster from his leadership post.

    FDA Releases Final Rule on Preventive Controls for Animal Food

    On September 10th, the Food and Drug Administration’s Final Rule on Preventive Controls for Animal Food. The rule is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which is the largest update to FDA’s food safety authorities in over 70 years. While the main focus of the legislation is human food, there are several regulations that impact food for animals. The Preventive Controls rule creates a system by which regulated facilities must establish food safety plans that include hazard analysis and risk based preventive controls. Compliance for large businesses begins in September 2016, while small and very small businesses have additional time to come into compliance. A fact sheet on the final rule can be found here.

    At the same time as FDA is finalizing major FSMA rules, the agency is continuing its push for funding to implement and enforce the regulations. In a recent hearing before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on September 16th, FDA leaders expressed concern that without adequate funding the effectiveness of FSMA will be impacted. FDA has requested an increase of $109 million for FSMA in FY 2016. The House and Senate bills for FY 2016 would provide $41 and $45 million in additional funds, respectively. FDA stated that unless full funding is provided, the agency will have to make hard choices about delaying or disrupting the implementation of FSMA programs.

    House Agriculture Committee Schedules Hearings on Research Innovations and Dietary Guidelines

    On Tuesday, September 29, The House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held a hearing on held a public hearing to review research innovations achieved by the nation’s agricultural colleges and universities. While the focus of the hearing centered on research in general, several of those testifying gave a more direct emphasis to animal agriculture and the needs which are present in the field. Former FASS and PSA board member Mike Lacy from the University of Georgia was one of the witnesses. He discussed the importance of animal and poultry science in addressing critical issues such as food security, health and sustainability and the need for additional federal investment including the importance of the Sec. 1433 competitive funding mechanism which was authorized in the Farm Bill and how it should be funded at an adequate level. Research on other topics such as avian influenza and food safety, and the handling of meat products all were discussed. Members specifically pressed witnesses on the scope and need for agriculture research funding. A link to the Committee press release on the hearing as well as links to the testimony of each witness can be found here.

    In addition, the House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans on October 7th. The draft guidelines have come under fire from animal agriculture because the current draft does not recognize the value of lean meat as a party of a healthy diet. The current version also greatly expands the scope of the guidelines to consider non-dietary factors such as environmental sustainability. The draft is critical of the meat industry and its perceived impact on sustainability. ASAS submitted public comments to USDA and HHS expressing concerns about these provisions and the apparent disregarding of science-based information indicating the importance of lean meat in a healthy diet.

    FDA Holds Public Meeting on Antibiotic Use Data Collection

    On September 30th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a jointly sponsored public meeting to obtain public input on possible approaches for collecting additional on-farm antimicrobial drug use and resistance data. The meeting was held in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a part of the government’s response to Executive Order 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the agencies are working to improve the collection of antibiotic use data to better assess the impact of measures being implemented to foster the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. A copy of the Federal Register notice with additional details about the meeting can be found here.

    FASS Washington Representative Participates in AAC Meeting

    The Animal Agriculture Coalition held a meeting in Washington on September 14th. FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith participated in the meeting. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss AAC member priorities for the remainder of the year. A consistent theme emerged from the AAC members. Each of the organizations indicated that animal health and disease was a major priority, ranging from avian influenza and PEDv to antimicrobial resistance. There was consensus that additional research and science-based solutions will be critical to address these issues.

    August
    September 2, 2015

    FDA to Hold Public Meeting on Antibiotic Use Data Collection

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced its plan to hold a jointly sponsored public meeting to obtain public input on possible approaches for collecting additional on-farm antimicrobial drug use and resistance data. The meeting will be held in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a part of the government's response to Executive Order 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the agencies are working to improve the collection of antibiotic use data to better assess the impact of measures being implemented to foster the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals.

    The public meeting will be held on September 30, 2015 from 8:00am to 4:30pm, at the USDA's Jefferson Auditorium, located at 14th and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201. Registration is required to participate in the public meeting. Registration information (including name, title, organization, address, telephone and fax numbers) should be sent by email to Kelly.Covington@fda.hhs.gov by September 18, 2015. Those interested in making an oral presentation during the public comment period must notify FDA by September 16, 2015, and submit a brief statement of the general nature of information they wish to present. A copy of the Federal Register notice with additional details about the meeting can be found here.

    Animal Welfare Policy Remains Hot Topic in Washington

    The issue of animal welfare has remained a hot topic during the summer of 2015. On July 23rd, the Animal Handling and Welfare Review Panel established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its findings from the Phase II review entitled: "Final Report of the Findings and Recommendations on the Phase II Review of the Animal Care and Well-Being at the Agricultural Research Service to the REE Under Secretary." The review examined the agency-wide animal care and well-being policies, procedures, and standards for agricultural livestock in research at the Agricultural Research Services (ARS). Phase II of the review consisted of site visits to five additional ARS research locations conducting research on farm animals. While the report identifies areas where ARS processes can be improved, it was the “strong opinion of the panel that there was no evidence for misuse or abuse of animals at the ARS sites visited.”

    The Panel transmitted the final report to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board for additional discussion and public comment. On August 11th, the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board (NAREEE Board) met via teleconference to discuss the Phase II final report. The NAREEE Board heard a summary of the report from the Aaron Olson, Chair of the Task Force. Dr. Olson reiterated that the Task Force found no evidence of animal mistreatment or improper handling during their review. He also stated that each of the sites visited during the review had a properly functioning Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). He then highlighted the major findings and recommendations of the report, which focus on refining the Agricultural Research Service's IACUC policies and procedures. A copy of the final report can be found here.

    Concurrent to activities undertaken by USDA and the review panel, Congress has also remained active on the issue of animal welfare. Both the House and Senate versions of the FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill include language related to animal welfare at ARS. The House bill includes language that withholds $56 million from ARS until the Secretary certifies that ARS has taken steps to ensure proper animal care in its facilities. The Senate bill expresses directs ARS to ensure all of its facilities conducting agricultural research comply with standards that are equivalent to the Animal Welfare Act. The language also directs ARS to enter into an agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to have APHIS Animal Care conduct routine inspections of ARS facilities to ensure humane treatment of animals.

    In addition to appropriations activities, Congress is considering other legislation regarding animal welfare issues. For example, on July 21st, Rep. Blum of Iowa introduced H.R. 3136, the Enforcement Transparency Act of 2015. The legislation would require the Secretary of Agriculture to issue guidelines relating to civil fines imposed for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The bill directs USDA to publish the guidelines to the public internet and update them on a quarterly basis.

    Given the actions on appropriations, the introduction of stand-alone legislation, and the recent release of final report of the USDA Task Force, expect animal welfare to remain a hot topic in the months to come.

    Congress Returns to Full Agenda in September

    As Members of Congress return to Washington after the August recess, they will find themselves with a very full agenda. Fiscal year 2016 appropriations, for agriculture and all of the other spending bills, will need to be addressed before October 1st, the beginning of the next fiscal year. Both the House and Senate committees have completed their work, but very few bills, have made it to the chamber floor for consideration, and none have passed both chambers and been presented to the President for signature. As a result, it is likely that Congress will develop a continuing resolution to keep the government running after September 30th. This will give the House and Senate additional time to develop an omnibus funding package for the remainder of FY 2016. At the same time, Congress will be debating issues such as the Iran nuclear agreement, surface transportation authorization and tax extenders. Add in the Jewish holidays and a joint meeting with the Pope, and the month of September will be extremely busy.

    July
    August 6, 2015

    Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On Tuesday, July 14th, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met to consider its version of the fiscal year 2016 agriculture appropriations bill. The subcommittee passed the bill and sent it forward to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. The full committee approved the bill on July 16th. The text and report of the bill have not been released, but some high level numbers have been announced.

    The Senate bill contains $143.8 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding, $24 billion below the President’s budget request and $3.7 billion below the FY2015 enacted level. The discretionary funding portion of the bill totals $20.51 billion, which is $65 million below the FY2015 enacted level. For agricultural research, the bill provides a total of $2.7 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Under the Senate version, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative would be funded at $325 million, which is the same amount as last year. Hatch and Smith-Lever formula programs are also level funded at $244 million and $300 million, respectively.

    Below is a table reflecting the levels for selected research accounts:

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2015 - FINAL
    FY 2016 – President’s Budget
    FY 2016 - House
    FY 2016 - Senate
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.132 billion
    $1.191 billion
    $1.122 billion
    $1.136 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $45 million
    $205 million
    $45 million
    $0
    NIFA Research and Education
    $787 million
    $998 million
    $781 million
    $791 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $325 million
    $450 million
    $335 million
    $325 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    $4 million
    Innovation Institutes
    $0
    $80 million
    $0
    $0
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $472 million
    $475 million
    $472 million
    $489 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $29 million
    $30.9 million
    $13.7 million

    The manager’s amendment approved during the full committee meeting includes language related to animal welfare issues. The language, similar to that in the House bill, expresses concerns over the allegations of improper animal care at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and directs ARS to ensure all its facilities conducting agricultural research comply with standards that are equivalent to the Animal Welfare Act. The language also directs ARS to enter into an agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to have APHIS Animal Care conduct routine inspections of ARS facilities to ensure humane treatment of animals. The language further requires ARS to conduct a full review of its animal welfare policies and procedures and provide quarterly reports to the committee.

    The committee has released a summary of the bill, which can be found here.

    House Passes GMO Labeling Legislation

    On Thursday, July 23rd, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. The bill passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 275-150. The legislation requires companies to give the Food and Drug Administration a premarket notification regarding GMO products that includes the developer’s determination that the GMO product is as safe as a comparable non-GMO food. FDA would have the authority to object to the developer’s determination. Additionally, if FDA determines that there is a material difference between a GMO food and a comparable non-GMO food, FDA can specify labeling. The bill preempts states from implementing their own GMO labeling requirements.

    The legislation also authorizes USDA, through the Agricultural Marketing Service, to develop a voluntary program for non-GMO food and directs FDA to regulate the use of “natural” on food labels. GCCA is an active member of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which has been an active advocate for passage of the legislation. More information on the bill can be found on the GCCA Advocacy Portal.

    The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration. To date, companion legislation has not been introduced in the Senate. However, several senators have indicated an interest in the issue.

    USDA Animal Handling and Welfare Review Panel Completes Phase II Review

    The Animal Handling and Welfare Review Panel established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the final report of its findings from the Phase II review of the agency-wide animal care and well-being policies, procedures, and standards for agricultural livestock in research at the Agricultural Research Services (ARS). The Panel has transmitted the final report to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board for additional discussion and public comment.

    Phase II of the review consisted of site visits to five additional ARS research locations conducting research on farm animals. While the report identifies areas where ARS processes can be improved, it was the “strong opinion of the panel that there was no evidence for misuse or abuse of animals at the ARS sites visited.” A copy of the final report can be found here.

    The NAREEE Advisory Board will hold an open meeting via teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on August 11, 2015, to hear a presentation of the report, discuss and identify additional recommendations to USDA, and receive public comment. Those interested in participating in the open meeting can register by clicking here.

    House Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Avian Influenza

    On July 30th, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to examine the federal and state response to avian influenza. The subcommittee heard from federal and state experts involved in responding to the outbreak.

    Witnesses included:

    • Dr. David Swayne, Laboratory Director, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Services, Athens, GA – Swayne Testimony
    • Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Washington, DC – Clifford Testimony
    • Dr. R. Douglas Meckes, State Veterinarian, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Raleigh, NC – Meckes Testimony
    • Dr. Bill Hartmann, Executive Director, Minnesota Board of Animal Health, St. Paul, MN – Hartmann Testimony

    An archived webcast of the hearing can be found here.

    Washington Representatives Speak to ADSA, ASAS and PSA Boards

    Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA and ASAS in Orlando. Lowell and Walt met with both boards to update them on the latest policy developments in Washington, DC including appropriations, animal care and antibiotics policy issues. Lowell and Walt also spoke at the ASAS Business Meeting in Orlando. In addition, Lowell addressed the PSA board via conference call to share the latest information with PSA board members.

    June
    July 1, 2015

    House Subcommittee Approves FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On June 18th, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met to take action on agriculture appropriations for fiscal year 2016. The bill considered by the subcommittee provides $20.65 billion in discretionary funding, which is $175 million lower than fiscal year 2015. When funding for mandatory programs is included, the overall bill totals $143.9 billion.

    For research programs, within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), funding is largely provided at last year’s levels. The largest increase of any NIFA program is $10 million for AFRI, bumping the program from $325 million to $335 million. The expanded Sec. 1433 program remains at the FY 2015 level of $4 million. Information for selected key accounts can be found in the table below.

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2015 - FINAL
    FY 2016 – President’s Budget
    FY 2016 - House
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.132 billion
    $1.191 billion
    $1.122 billion
    ARS Buildings and Facilities
    $45 million
    $205 million
    $45 million
    NIFA Research and Education
    $787 million
    $998 million
    $781 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $325 million
    $450 million
    $335 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    (NEW)Innovation Institutes
    $0
    $80 million
    $0
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $472 million
    $475 million
    $472 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $30.9 million
    $29 million
    $30.9 million

    Also included in the bill are a number of policy provisions related to the administration of agency activities. Two of these are of particular interest to animal science and animal agriculture. First, in response to the allegations of improper animal care at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), the bill contains language that withholds 5 percent of the ARS budget ($56 million) until the Secretary of Agriculture certifies that ARS has updated its animal care policies and that all of the agency’s facilities at which animal research is conducted have a fully functioning Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee with all appropriate and necessary record keeping. The report language accompanying the bill provides additional information on the committee’s expectations for ARS, including that ARS must: (1) enter into an agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to provide animal care oversight; (2) report to Congress in detail on the allegations made about animal care at USMARC; and, (3) conduct a review of the easy care sheep project. The bill would provide additional resources for APHIS to support its implementation and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

    Second, the bill includes language that prohibits the release for finalization of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans unless it is demonstrated that all recommendations are based on scientific evidence that has been rated "Grade I: Strong" by the grading rubric developed by the Nutrition Evidence Library of the Department of Agriculture and are limited in scope to only matters of diet and nutrient intake. This language comes in response to the strong criticism of the draft dietary guidelines from animal agriculture and other industries. The scientific basis for some of the draft recommendations has been strongly questioned and the draft goes well beyond the scope of diet and nutrition by considering environmental sustainability as a factor for making dietary recommendations.

    The subcommittee approved the bill on voice vote. The full committee was scheduled to consider the bill during the week of June 22nd, but the proceedings have been postponed until after the 4th of July recess. A copy of the bill language can be found here.

    FASS Participates in White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship

    On June 2nd, the Obama Administration convened a “White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship” to bring together key human and animal health constituencies involved in antibiotic stewardship. Representatives from more than 150 food companies, retailers, and human and animal health stakeholders participated in the meeting to discuss commitments to implement changes over the next five years to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections. Mike Lilburn, Past President of FASS, participated on behalf of FASS and share his perspectives on the role of scientific societies in providing education and outreach on antibiotic stewardship. FASS is listed as one of the organizations making a commitment to address the issue of antibiotic stewardship, which can be found on a White House Fact Sheet entitled “Over 150 Animal and Health Stakeholders Join White House Effort to Combat Antibiotic Resistance”. USDA Under Secretary Cathy Woteki also wrote a blog article on the forum, which can be found here.

    In conjunction with the forum, President Obama also signed a memorandum directing Federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the final Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation, which facilitates bringing the feed-use of antibiotics under the oversight of licensed veterinarians.

    Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) Names Executive Director

    On June 11th, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) named Dr. Sally Rockey its first Executive Director to lead the foundation. Dr. Rockey currently serves as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deputy director for extramural research and will assume her role with FFAR in September 2015. Prior to joining the NIH in 2005, Rockey spent 19 years of at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where she oversaw the competitive research component of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service including the National Research Initiative (NRI). As executive director, Rockey will be charged with steering FFAR’s approach to addressing challenges in food and agriculture through funding cutting edge research, fostering public-private sector collaboration, and supporting young scientists in the agricultural field.

    House Passes Legislation to Repeal COOL Regulations

    On June 10th, the House of Representatives voted to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations for meat and poultry. The COOL regulations have been the subject of controversy over the last few years as Canada and Mexico challenged the validity of the regulations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO ruled in May that the regulations violate U.S. trade obligations and that Canada and Mexico would be entitled to take retaliatory action. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) moved the repeal legislation quickly in his committee and successfully through the House floor on a bipartisan vote of 300-131. More information on H.R. 2393 can be found here.

    The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to examine the COOL issue on June 25th and the Ranking Member of the committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has proposed draft legislation that would make COOL regulations voluntary. Canada and Mexico have indicated that changing the program to make it voluntary is not acceptable and would still violate WTO obligations.

    House Committees Examine GMO Labeling Policy

    On June 18th, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in response to the increasing number of states considering law and regulations that would require the mandatory labeling of food products with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The legislation would preempt states from creating a patchwork of different labeling requirements and create a national policy. Under the legislation, GMO labeling would only be mandatory if there is a material difference between the GMO product and non-GMO products. The bill would also authorize USDA to develop a voluntary non-GMO labeling program. On June 25th, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing to discuss USDA’s ability to develop the voluntary program, which would be administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service.

    May
    June 4, 2015

    FASS Representative to Participate in White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship

    On June 2nd, the White House is convening a One Health Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship to bring together key human and animal health constituencies involved in the development, promotion, and implementation of activities to improve antibiotic stewardship nationwide. Government agencies, along with key human and animal health stakeholders, will be discussing strategies to create meaningful impact on antibiotic stewardship, slow the emergence of resistant bacteria, and prevent the spread of resistant infections. The goal of the Forum is to exchange ideas on ways public and private sector stakeholders can collaborate to improve responsible antibiotic use and to discuss opportunities for further improvement. Dr. Michael Lilburn, past president of FASS, will be participating in the event representing FASS.

    FDA Proposes Antibiotics Data Collection by Species

    On May 20th, the Food and Drug Administration published a proposed rule that would require animal drug sponsors of all antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals to obtain estimates of sales by major food-producing species (cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys). FDA claims that the additional data would improve understanding of how antimicrobials are sold or distributed for use in major food-producing animals and help the FDA further target its efforts to ensure judicious use of medically important antimicrobials. A copy of the proposed rule can be found here. The deadline for public comments is August 18, 2015.

    Appropriations Committees Set Subcommittee FY 2016 Allocations

    As a part of the annual appropriations process, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee establish 302(b) allocations, which determine the amount of funding each of the appropriations subcommittees have to craft their respective appropriations bills. On May 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2016 allocations to the subcommittees, which totaled $1.01 trillion, the statutory limit set in the 2011 debt law. The approval came on a party line vote, as Democrats criticized the allocations as not providing enough resources to properly fund key programs.

    Funding for discretionary programs, which includes most agricultural research programs, in the agriculture appropriations bill is $20.51 billion. This is less than the $20.65 billion for agriculture provided in the House allocations. The fiscal year 2015 allocation for agriculture was $20.6 billion. The limited amount of funds allocated to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees will make achieving increases to research programs challenging in fiscal year 2016. It is anticipated that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will be the first to act on its bill, with committee action likely to occur in early June.

    WTO Rules against U.S. COOL Regulations

    On May 18th the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling against the United States regarding a dispute brought by Canada and Mexico challenging the validity of mandatory country of origin labeling regulations (COOL). USDA issued COOL regulations in 2013 that require labeling of meat products including where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The U.S. was appealing an initial ruling that the COOL regulations violate trade obligations and that Canada and Mexico would be entitled to take retaliatory action against the U.S. The WTO's appellate body affirmed that the mandatory regulations violate U.S. trade obligations and impose a disproportionate burden in record-keeping and verification requirements on meat producers and processors.

    In response to the WTO ruling, the House Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan bill (H.R. 2392) that would repeal COOL requirements for meat and poultry. More information on COOL repeal legislation can be found here.

    OSTP Issues Request for Information on Microbiome

    On May 20th, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input science and policy issues surrounding the microbiome. OSTP has stated an interest in developing an effort to unify and focus microbiome research across sectors. The purpose of the RFI is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholder groups on both the overarching questions that unite all microbiome research and the tools, technologies, and training that are needed to answer these questions.

    While seeking broad input on issues related to the microbiome, OSTP has highlighted the following questions in which it is seeking feedback:

    • What are the most pressing, fundamental questions in microbiome research, common to most or all fields?
    • Over the next ten years, what are the most important research gaps that must be addressed to advance this field?
    • What tools, platform technologies, or technological advances would propel microbiome research from correlative to predictive?
    • What crucial types of scientific and technical training will be needed to take advantage of harnessing the microbiome's potential?
    • What fields of microbiome research are currently underfunded or underrepresented?
    • What specific steps could be taken by the federal government, research institutes, universities, and philanthropies to encourage multi-disciplinary microbiome research?

    A copy of the RFI, including instructions for how to submit comments can be found here. Responses to the RFI are due by June 15, 2015.

    2015 AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture Announced

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced the 2015 Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at the AAAS headquarters (1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC) on June 16 at 4:00pm (registration will open at 3:30pm) featuring Steven Leath, President of Iowa State University. His talk— A University President's Perspective on the Economic Importance of Pursuing a Unifying Message to Make Agriculture a National Priority— will address the ability to meet the needs of a burgeoning global population; the U.S.'s alarming lag in investments in food, agricultural, and natural resources research; and the ways public and private entities across multiple disciplines can and must come together to reclaim the U.S.'s global leadership in these important areas. Following the Lecture, there will be a panel discussion with Dr. Leath; Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University; Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics; and other selected discussants. More information on the lecture is available at www.aaas.org/page/riley-lecture. To RSVP, go to http://events.signup4.com/riley2015.

    April
    May 5, 2015

    FASS Hosts Webinar on Role of Ag Guide in Animal Care

    The issue of farm animal care in research is currently the subject of much discussion and debate in Washington, DC and around the country. To help clarify policies and procedures related to farm animal care and available resources, FASS, publisher of the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (FASS Ag Guide) hosted a webinar entitled "The Role of the FASS Ag Guide in Farm Animal Research". The webinar was moderated by Ken Odde, Head of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University and FASS Science Policy Committee member. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel discussed the current situation in Washington, DC related to animal care policy discussions. John McGlone, Professor at Texas Tech University and Chair of the FASS Animal Care Committee, and Chris Newcomer, Executive Director of AAALAC International addressed the history and applications of the Animal Welfare Act and the FASS Ag Guide as well as the implications of potential policy changes. The webinar was well attended, with over 65 participants from government, industry and academia. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the FASS website in the near future.

    USDA NAREEE Board Holds Meeting on U.S. MARC Animal Care Report

    The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board (NAREEE Board) held a public meeting on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time to hear the summary of findings and recommendations on the review of the animal handling, care, and welfare at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (U.S. MARC). The review was conducted by a task force appointed by USDA in response to allegations of improper animal care at U.S. MARC. The task force issued a report which is available at www.ree.usda.gov. The NAREEE Board also hear about stakeholder input received regarding the draft report of the task force. More information on the meeting can be found here.

    March
    April 2, 2015

    House Holds Hearing on Agriculture Research Funding

    On March 24th, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing regarding fiscal year 2016 appropriations for USDA’s Research, Education and Economics (REE) Mission Area. The REE Mission Area covers the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agriculture Statistics Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. During the hearing, much attention was placed on the allegations of animal mistreatment at the US Meat Animal Research Center (US MARC). Members from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns and pressed USDA to ensure that animals are properly treated moving forward. Other major animal science related issues discussed include antibiotic resistance, avian influenza and swine PEDV.

    FASS and Founding Societies Join Effort to Support Research Funding

    FASS and all three founding societies were among 89 national and state organizations sending a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees in support of $10 million in fiscal year 2016 for Sec. 1433, Continuing Animal Health and Disease, Food Security, and Stewardship Research, Education and Extension Programs. The program was expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to include a competitive grants mechanism focusing on the FAIR 2012 priorities of food security, one health and stewardship.

    NAS to Hold Launch Event for Animal Science Report

    The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS), a part of the National Academy of Sciences is holding an event to launch of the report entitled The Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability. The event will take place at the National Academy of Sciences Building, Lecture Room 2101 Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. EDT. The report identifies areas of research and development, technology, and resource needs for research in the field of animal agriculture, both nationally and internationally.

    The session will include:

    • A presentation by Bernard Goldstein, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Chair of the report’s authoring committee;
    • A panel discussion joined by Ann Bartuska, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and
    • A Q&A session with Dr. Goldstein and a committee member Louis D’Abramo, Mississippi State University.

    Those interested in attending can register by clicking here.

    White House Announces Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

    On Friday, March 27th, the Obama Administration released its National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP). The NAP comes as a part of the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The Executive Order outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)’s report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.

    The NAP outlines planned Federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics. These activities were included in the President’s FY 2016 Budget Proposal, which would direct more than $1.2 billion be invested in antibiotic resistance efforts.

    The NAP identifies the following five key goals to address antibiotic resistance:

    1. Slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections

    The judicious use of antibiotics in health care and agriculture settings is essential to combating the rise in antibiotic resistance. We can help slow the emergence of resistant bacteria by being smarter about prescribing practices across all human and animal health care settings, and by continuing to eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.

    2. Strengthen national "One-Health" surveillance efforts

    A “One-Health” approach to disease surveillance will improve detection and control of antibiotic resistance by integrating data from multiple monitoring networks, and by providing high-quality information, such as detailed genomic data, necessary to tracking resistant bacteria in diverse settings in a timely fashion.

    3. Advance development and use of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests

    The development of rapid “point-of-need” diagnostic tests could significantly reduce unnecessary antibiotic use by allowing health care providers to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections, and identify bacterial drug susceptibilities during a single health care visit making it easier for providers to recommend appropriate, targeted treatment.

    4. Accelerate basic and applied research and development

    New antibiotics and alternative treatments for both humans and animals are critical to maintaining our capacity to treat and prevent disease. This involves supporting and streamlining the drug development process, as well as increasing the number of candidate drugs at all stages of the development pipeline. Additionally, boosting basic research to better understand the ecology of antibiotic resistance will help us develop effective mitigation strategies.

    5. Improve international collaboration and capacities

    Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that requires global solutions. The United States will engage with foreign ministries and institutions to strengthen national and international capacities to detect, monitor, analyze, and report antibiotic resistance; provide resources and incentives to spur the development of therapeutics and diagnostics for use in humans and animals; and strengthen regional networks and global partnerships that help prevent and control the emergence and spread of resistance.

    In 2014, USDA published its Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan as a part of the overall effort under the Executive Order. USDA has indicated that it does not anticipate any new regulations under the Food Safety Inspection Service or Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as a result of the Executive Order.

    Implementation of the NAP will be a long term effort for the federal government and will require engagement from the scientific community and industry. The Department of Health and Human Services is currently forming an advisory committee to help guide the government’s efforts and they are looking for a balance of experts including animal scientists with expertise in antibiotics, diagnostics and alternatives. More information about the advisory committee and how to submit a nomination can be found here. Nominations are due April 29th.

    USDA Panel Issues Draft Report on USMARC

    In response to concerns raised about animal care policies and procedures at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), USDA’s Agricultural Research Service convened an independent review panel to investigate USMARC and make recommendations on future animal care policies. The panel completed its work and released its report on March 9th.

    The panel’s report includes seven recommendations to improve animal care operations at USMARC and cite the FASS Ag Guide numerous times. The panel’s findings and corresponding recommendations include:

    Finding 1

    There is a lack of clarity on specific lines of authority and responsibility for oversight in regards to animal care and welfare in the cooperative arrangement between USMARC and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Recommendation 1

    USMARC should develop and implement written agreements with UNL and any other research or teaching partners to ensure optimum lines of responsibility for the oversight of animal care and use in research and teaching activities.

    Finding 2

    At this time there is no evidence for a clearly defined animal handling training program with a corresponding method for documenting the completion of appropriate training.

    Recommendation 2

    USMARC should develop and implement an appropriate training and documentation program for all individuals involved with the handling and use of animals in research. An explicit component of this training should be clear directions on how to report concerns regarding animal welfare. Various available national training components can be used for this purpose. As an important component of training on how to report welfare concerns, individuals should be informed of “whistleblower” policies which protect individuals who choose to report concerns. Copies of the whistleblower policy and contact information for reporting animal welfare concerns should be clearly posted in all animal handling areas.

    Recommendation 3

    USMARC should extend the electronic medical records database to include all species housed at USMARC. This will assist in monitoring both individual and herd health of all animals, and provide assurance that animals are receiving the appropriate care.

    Finding 3

    The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at USMARC was not adequately fulfilling its intended role of providing research oversight by reviewing and approving, requiring modifications in or denying proposed research activities. This is not compliant with ARS Policies and Procedures that call for facilities to follow the standards outlined in the Ag Guide.

    Recommendation 4

    USMARC should develop and implement processes that promote a robustly functioning IACUC that is consistent with the Ag Guide and with current practices in the field of animal research. Important components of complying with this recommendation include:

    • Appropriate training for IACUC members on processes, requirements, and expectations.
    • Properly convened meetings be held regularly, and that criteria be developed for what types of research proposals should receive additional review and discussion at IACUC meetings and those that may be appropriately reviewed by designated IACUC members outside of a convened meeting
    • Development of a consistent IACUC review process that will review and evaluate the topics related to animal welfare as indicated by the Ag Guide.
    • All individuals associated with animal care or research receive training on the role and importance of the IACUC in animal welfare and oversight.
    • IACUC members should inspect all areas where animals are held, handled or used, even if animals are not present at the time of inspection.

    Recommendation 5

    No reviews of proposed research or facility inspections be conducted unless a properly constituted IACUC is in place.

    Recommendation 6

    The Panel suggests that the Attending Veterinarian should not serve as the chair of the USMARC IACUC.

    Recommendation 7

    Use of all vertebrate animals at USMARC should be reviewed and approved by the IACUC. This includes animals used solely for production and any non-livestock animals such as rodents.

    The report concludes that, based upon the observations of the panel members no evidence of poor animal handling, animal abuse, or inadequate veterinary care was observed or identified. However, the facility was found to not be in full compliance with ARS policies and procedures in that the facility did not fully comply with the intent or guidance within the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animal is Research and Teaching (FASS Ag Guide), particularly in regards to the conduct and documentation of animal handling training programs and the conduct of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. ARS has indicated that it plans to immediately begin implementing the recommendations.

    The draft report is available for public review and comment through March 18, 2015 and can be found by clicking here. The review panel will also hold a public hearing teleconference on March 18th to receive input and comments on the draft report. Click here to register for the meeting.

    In addition to the review panel report, USDA has requested that the Inspector General conduct an investigation into the specific allegations of improper animal care at USMARC and ARS has appointed an Animal Welfare Ombudsman for the agency.

    February
    March 6, 2015

    FASS Responds to Animal Care Concerns

    In response to recent concerns raised about the care of farm animals in research at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (US MARC), the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on February 19, 2015. In this letter, FASS expressed its support for the use of resources, such as the FASS “Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching” (FASS Ag Guide), in promoting proper farm animal care in research using the latest scientific information. As leading experts in animal science, FASS and the members of its founding societies take seriously the responsibility to provide assistance at the top levels of government regarding animal research.

    With the recently voiced public concerns over animal safety and welfare, some have called for legislative changes to expand the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to include farm animals used in agricultural research at USDA and possibly other sites. Because the FASS Ag Guide provides current, science-based guidelines specifically relevant to farm animal care in research, it is the most applicable resource for scientists conducting research with farm animals. FASS does not believe an expansion of the AWA would improve animal care. FASS encourages the use of the Ag Guide, in tandem with peer review, to ensure responsible treatment of animals at research facilities.

    Since 1988, FASS (then the Federation of American Societies of Food Animal Sciences, FASFAS, the predecessor to FASS) has published the FASS Ag Guide; in the years since, it has become the primary document used for governing farm animal research in the United States and abroad. The FASS Ag Guide is used by many institutions, including USDA inspectors and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, because of its detailed, science-based, and species-specific recommendations.

    Since its inception, the stated mission of FASS has been to “strengthen the common interests and collective good of member societies through a unified science-based voice that supports animal agriculture, animal products, and food systems globally through effective and efficient management services.” To achieve this, FASS has consistently sought to foster the shared goals of its founding societies and assist policy makers in areas of animal science. With this in mind, FASS and its members stand ready to provide support to USDA and other government agencies regarding the best way forward for safety and welfare in animal research.

    USDA Announces Over $160 Million in AFRI Research Grants Available

    On February 20th, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of more than $160 million in funding for research, education, and extension projects that address key challenges affecting U.S. agriculture production. NIFA will fund the awards through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

    NIFA released six separate requests for applications (RFA) through the AFRI program. Five RFAs will support AFRI's challenge areas: food security ($16 million), water ($9 million), childhood obesity prevention ($6 million), food safety ($6 million), and climate ($5 million). An additional RFA for the AFRI Foundational program, totaling $116 million, will address the six Farm Bill priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

    Application deadlines vary by program area. Additional information about the AFRI program can be found on the NIFA website by clicking here.

    President Releases FY 2016 Budget Proposal

    On February 2nd, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, including proposed funding for agriculture research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Account
    FY 2016 – Proposed
    Agricultural Research Service – Research Programs
    $1.122 billion
    ARS – Buildings and Facilities
    $ 206 million
    NIFA Total (discretionary programs)
    $1.508 billion
    Hatch
    $244 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    Competitive Capacity Awards Program
    $20 million
    AFRI
    $450 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $0

    The largest increase for USDA research programs comes in the form of a request for $450 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). This is $125 million above the FY 2015 level of $325 million and includes $ 33 million for antimicrobial resistance. The AFRI Foundational Research program would also receive a significant boost within the $125 million increase requested.

    In keeping with recent Presidential budget proposals, there is no funding requested for Section 1433. This account received $4 million in FY 2015 and strong efforts are expected this year to try and increase funding for the program. This section was expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to create a new competitive grants program focused on animal science research. The expanded program will address the priority focal areas of food security, one health and stewardship that were identified through the FAIR 2012 process.

    Within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) budget, there is a $7 million increase requested for Livestock Production research, raising that program from $87 million to $94 million. The President's budget request also includes $206 million for buildings and facilities, which would enable ARS to complete construction of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory as well as address needs at four other facilities that have been identified as high priority through the agency's Capital Investment Strategy. Several of these facilities also include important animal research activities.

    More details on the proposed 2016 budget for USDA can be found here.

    USDA Holds Briefing on Antimicrobial Resistance Efforts

    On February 2nd, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a briefing for stakeholders regarding the federal government's efforts to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Representatives from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) provided the briefing. The briefing started with a review of the 2012 workshop hosted by USDA to examine issues related to AMR. The workshop looked at antimicrobial use, resistance and management practices and identified a series of gaps that needed to be addressed. Gaps included the need more and better data, improved communication, development of metrics and resources to support these efforts.

    The workshop concluded that work in the following areas would help address many of the gaps:

    • Holistic approach to understanding the microbiome
    • Enhanced utilization of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS)
    • Enhanced utilization of the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS)
    • Long-term research
    • Outreach and education

    USDA has since developed an AMR Action Plan. The plan has identified goals of obtaining and disseminating science-based drug use and resistance information and addressing knowledge gaps and developing mitigation strategies. The objectives of the Action Plan include:

    • Determining patterns, purposes and impacts of antimicrobial usage.
    • Monitoring drug susceptibility.
    • Identifying management practices and alternatives to reduce AMR.

    Presenters discussed the critical importance of surveillance and the need to expand and enhance surveys, longitudinal studies and measuring usage and related production practices. USDA acknowledged the need for confidentiality protections to ensure producer confidence with participation. They stressed that information collected by the NAHMS is protected by the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). However, FSIS regulations still apply for slaughter sampling for residues.

    For research, USDA highlighted the following priority needs:

    • Alternatives to antimicrobials
    • Vaccines
    • Feed, nutrition and genetic resistance
    • Ecology
    • Management practices
    • Use of multi-institutional/multi-disciplinary approaches

    It was also noted that enhanced efforts are needed for education and outreach. A copy of USDA's Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance can be found here.

    USDA officials ended the briefing by discussing initiatives driven by the White House related to AMR. In September 2014, President Obama issued an executive order to combat antimicrobial resistance bacteria. The President directed agencies to develop a national strategy, which is schedule to be released in February. The order identified the following national goals:

    • Slow the emergence and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
    • Strengthen surveillance.
    • Advance rapid diagnostic tests.
    • Accelerate research.
    • Improve international collaboration.

    The President's fiscal year 2016 budget includes $1.2 billion to support efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance. Across six USDA agencies, $77 million would be dedicated to AMR activities in the President's Budget. More information on the President's AMR budget initiatives can be found here.

    January
    Febuary 4, 2015

    NAS Releases Study on Critical Role of Animal Science to Food Security and Sustainability

    On January 7th, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report entitled “Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability”. The report documents the important contributions that animal science and animal agriculture make to society and finds that current funding levels are not sufficient to meet global demands.

    USDA Under Secretary Cathy Woteki welcomed the report by stating, “This National Academy of Science report highlights the importance and need to increase animal science research and our investment in meeting future animal protein needs, both domestically and globally, through sustainable agriculture.” She went on to state, “The findings support and lend urgency to USDA’s investments in research through the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which advances agricultural research, education and extension to solve societal challenges.”

    Over the past two decades, public funding of animal science research has been stagnant. Growth in U.S. research related to animal agriculture productivity and sustainability is imperative and the report recommends that the public investment in animal science should be increased to make up for past years of underfunding and help meet future needs. The report also identifies key areas where enhanced public funding can help provide science-based solutions to improve animal productivity, increase food safety and food security, improve sustainability, and address public concerns about animal welfare.

    Major recommendations in the report include:

    • To meet current and future animal protein demand, and to sustain corresponding infrastructure and capacity, public support for animal science research (especially basic research) should be restored to at least past levels of real dollars and maintained at a rate that meets or exceeds the annual rate of research inflation.
    • Support of technology development and adoption should continue by both public and private sectors.
    • Research should be conducted to understand societal concerns regarding the adoption of these technologies and the most effective methods to respectfully engage and communicate with the public.
    • Research should continue to develop a better understanding of nutrient metabolism and utilization in the animal and the effects of those nutrients on gene expression.
    • Research should continue to identify alternative feed ingredients that are inedible to humans and will notably reduce the cost of animal protein production while improving the environmental footprint.
    • There is a need to explore alternatives to the use of medically important subtherapeutic antibiotics while providing the same or greater benefits in improved feed efficiency, disease prevention and overall animal health.
    • There is a need to build capacity and direct funding towards high-priority animal welfare research areas.
    • Research needs to be devoted to the development of geographically appropriate climate change adaptive strategies and their effect on greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants involving biogeochemical cycling.
    • Socioeconomic and animal science research should be integrated so that researchers, administrators and decision makers can be guided and informed in conducting and funding effective, efficient and productive research and technology transfer.
    • There is a need to establish a strong focus on communications research as related to animal science research and animal agriculture, with the goals of enhancing knowledge dissemination, respectful stakeholder participation and engagement, and informed decision-making.
    • To sustainably meet increasing demands for animal protein in developing countries, stakeholders at the national level should be involved in establishing animal science research priorities.
    • Research devoted to understanding and overcoming the barriers to technology adoption in developed and developing countries needs to be conducted.
    • Research, education (e.g., training in biosecurity), and appropriate infrastructures should be enhanced in developing countries to alleviate the problems of animal diseases and zoonoses that result in enormous losses to animal health, animal producer livelihoods, national and regional economies, and human health.

    FASS worked closely with USDA and NAS during the development of the study concept and participated in the two public sessions held by the study committee. The report acknowledges the efforts of FASS to develop the FAIR 2012 process and builds on the FAIR 2012 report. A full copy of the NAS report can be found by clicking here.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Representatives Meet in DC

    During the first week in January, representatives of the FASS Science Policy Committee traveled to Washington, DC to meet with agency officials regarding the development of a workshop to highlight the value of interagency collaboration in issues related to animal science. The group met with officials from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration. FASS representatives received good feedback on the workshop concept along with ideas for program areas that would be of interest across multiple agencies. The FASS Science Policy Committee is incorporating the feedback received from the agencies and further developing plans to advance a workshop.

    Animal Agriculture Coalition Meets with FDA Regarding Antimicrobial Use Data

    On January 27th, representatives from the Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC) met with officials from the Food and Drug Administration to discuss issues related to antimicrobial usage in animal agriculture. The focus of the discussion was on the need for better data to quantify antimicrobial usage. The group discussed what types of information is needed and potential ways for data collection. Sales information, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) and the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) were all cited as possible resources for data collection. The group also discussed the concept of judicious use and how different groups provide guidance to producers. FDA announced its intention to hold a meeting in spring 2015 to examine the issue of antimicrobial data collection. The AAC plans to convene additional discussions surrounding data collection and judicious use policies and maintain strong engagement with FDA as the process moves forward.

    114th Congress Convenes, Committee Assignments Announced

    January 2015 brought the beginning of the newly installed 114th Congress. The 2014 November elections brought many changes to Congress, including new leadership and members of key agriculture related committees in the House and Senate. Below is a listing of the new committee leadership and full rosters for the 114th Congress:

    SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE
    REPUBLICAN MAJORITY

    • Pat Roberts, KS, Chairman
    • Thad Cochran, MS
    • Mitch McConnell, KY
    • John Boozman, AR
    • John Hoeven, ND
    • David Perdue, GA
     
    • Joni Ernst, IA
    • Thom Tillis, NC
    • Ben Sasse, NE
    • Charles Grassley, IA
    • John Thune, SD

    DEMOCRAT MINORITY

    • Debbie Stabenow, MI, Ranking Member
    • Patrick Leahy, VT
    • Sherrod Brown, OH
    • Amy Klobuchar, MN
    • Michael Bennet, CO
    • Kristen Gillibrand, NY
    • Joe Donnelly, IN
    • Heidi Heitkamp, ND
    • Robert Casey, PA

    HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE
    REPUBLICAN MAJORITY

    • K. Michael Conaway, Texas, Chairman
    • Randy Neugebauer, Texas, Vice Chairman
    • Bob Goodlatte, Va., Vice Chairman
    • Frank D. Lucas, Okla.
    • Steve King, Iowa
    • Mike Rogers, Ala.
    • Glenn Thompson, Pa.
    • Bob Gibbs, Ohio
    • Austin Scott, Ga.
    • Rick Crawford, Ark.
    • Scott Desjarlais, Tenn.
    • Chris Gibson, N.Y.
    • Vicky Hartzler, Mo.
    • Dan Benishek, Mich.





       
    •  
    • Jeff Denham, Calif.
    • Doug LaMalfa, Calif.
    • Ted Yoho, Fla.
    • Jackie Walorski, Ind.
    • Rick Allen, Ga.
    • Mike Bost, Ill.
    • David Rouzer, N.C.
    • Ralph Abraham, La.
    • Tom Emmer, Minn.
    • John Moolenaar, Mich.
    • Dan Newhouse, Wash.

    DEMOCRAT MINORITY

    • Collin C. Peterson, Minn., Ranking Member
    • David Scott, Ga.
    • Jim Costa, Calif.
    • Timothy J. Walz, Minn.
    • Marcia Fudge, Ohio
    • Jim McGovern, Mass.
    • Suzan DelBene, Wash.
    • Filemon Vela, Texas
    • Michelle Lujan Grisham, N.M.
    • Ann Kuster, N.H.
     
    • Rick Nolan, Minn.
    • Cheri Bustos, Ill.
    • Sean Patrick Maloney, N.Y.
    • Ann Kirkpatrick, Ariz.
    • Pete Aguilar, Calif.
    • Stacey Plaskett, V.I.
    • Alma Adams, N.C.
    • Gwen Graham, Fla.
    • Brad Ashford, Neb.

    SENATE AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
    REPUBLICAN MAJORITY

    • Jerry Moran, Kansas, Chairman
    • Roy Blunt, Missouri
    • Thad Cochran, Mississippi
    • Susan Collins, Maine
    • John Hoeven, North Dakota
    • Steve Daines, Montana

    DEMOCRAT MINORITY

    • Jeff Merkley, Oregon, Ranking Member
    • Diane Feinstein, California
    • Jon Tester, Montana
    • Tom Udall, New Mexico
    • Patrick Leahy, Vermont
    • Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin

    HOUSE AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
    REPUBLICAN MAJORITY

    • Robert Aderholt, Alabama, Chairman
    • Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi
    • Kevin Yoder, Kansas
    • Tom Rooney, Florida
    • David Valadao, California
    • Andy Harris, Maryland
    • David Young, Iowa

    DEMOCRAT MINORITY

    • Sam Farr, California, Ranking Member
    • Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut
    • Sanford Bishop, Jr., Georgia
    • Chellie Pingree, Maine

    2014

    December
    January 5, 2015

    Congress Passes FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations

    After intense debates about funding levels and policy riders, the House and Senate have come to agreement and passed a spending measure that will fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2015. While the bill garnered bipartisan support, it also had bipartisan opposition, leading to close votes in both chambers.

    Agriculture research was largely level funded in the bill, with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative being the only program receiving a significant increase from $316 million to $325 million. The newly expanded Section 1433 program, which, thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, now includes a competitive grants mechanism, received $4 million. That is the same amount as last year, and insufficient to kick-in the new competitive program which begins once the program receives more than $5 million.

    The Agriculture Research Service received a small increase of $10 million, but that increase may be a bit deceiving. Funding for rents and leases used to be provided through a central account. The FY 2015 budget decentralizes the process and these expenses are now incorporated into individual agency budgets. This is true of other USDA agencies, as well.

    A copy of the agriculture portion of the omnibus can be found here. Below is a table summarizing the final numbers for selected USDA research related accounts:

    FY 2015 Omnibus: Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts

    Account
    FY 2014 - Enacted
    FY 2015 - President's Budget
    FY 2015 - Omnibus
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.122 billion
    $1.136 billion
    $1.132 billion
    NIFA Research and Education
    $772 million
    $837 million
    $787 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $316 million
    $325 million
    $325 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $4 million
    (NEW) Innovation Institutes
    $0
    $75 million
    $0
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $469 million
    $468 million
    $472 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $35 million
    $29 million
    $30.9 million

    Efforts to Develop a Unified Message on Agriculture Research Announced

    On December 5th, the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation (RMF) sponsored an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to discuss efforts to develop a unified message for agriculture, food and natural resource science. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel, serves as a member of the RMF board of directors and presided over the event. During the event, Wendy Wintersteen, Dean of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University highlighted the results of a report entitled "Pursuing a Unifying Message: Elevating Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Research as a National Priority".

    The report The report documents that the U.S. is in danger of losing its prominence in the scientific research upon which our food, agriculture, and natural resources systems depend and presents a case for many organizations working together toward a common goal at a time when global challenges require additional investment in agricultural research. Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman moderated a response panel that further discussed key issues impacting support for agricultural science. There was strong consensus around the need to build a broad based coalition and develop and market a unified message to increase the investment in agriculture research. More information on the effort and a copy of the report can be found here.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Planning Workshop

    The FASS Science Policy Committee is working to develop a workshop focused on the value and importance of interagency collaboration. FASS Science Policy Committee members will be traveling to Washington, DC in early January to further develop details for the workshop and meet with key agency officials. Members will be meeting with representatives of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and others.

    NAS Study on Animal Science to be Released in January

    The National Academies of Science (NAS) study entitled "Sustainability Considerations for the Future of Animal Agriculture Science Research" is scheduled for release in early January. FASS worked closely with USDA and NAS throughout the development of the study concept. FASS representatives also participated in NAS study committee meetings, including a formal presentation to the committee on the results of FAIR 2012. FASS is excited for the release of the report and looks forward to utilizing it to communicate the importance of investments in animal science.

    Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Omits Lean Meat

    In mid-December, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee met to consider recommendations for components of a healthy diet. The committee discussed the inclusion of lean meat as a part of its recommendations, but ultimately omitted it from the list of foods recommended for a healthy diet. This is a diversion from the 2010 guidelines, which recognized the value of lean meat to a healthy diet and has drawn sharp criticism from the meat and animal industries. The updated guidelines are scheduled to be finalized in 2015. More information on the dietary guidelines process can be found here.

    November
    December 6, 2014

    Midterm Elections have Direct Impact on Agriculture

    The recent midterm elections have not only brought change to our nation’s capital, but directly to the Congressional committees with oversight of agriculture. Of specific interest to those are the Agriculture Committees and the Agriculture Appropriations Committees.

    The big headline on election night, and since, has been the change of the Senate to Republican control. That change will bring new Chairmen and Ranking Members to the helm of all committees. On the Senate Agriculture Committee Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is the front runner for the Chairmanship. The current Ranking Member, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, is believed to be moving over to Chair the Senate Appropriations Committee and it would open the spot for Roberts. Should he be selected, Roberts would be the first person to ever have been Chairman of both the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee in his career. On the Democrat side of the isle it appears the current Chairwoman, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, would remain the Ranking Minority, however there is a chance she would shift over to the Banking Committee Ranking Member position. Should that shift occur, it's thought Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would be tapped as the lead Democrat for the committee.

    The Agriculture Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee will also see some major changes. Its current Chairman, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, was defeated and will not be returning to Congress. It is unknown at this time who might be replacing him as the ranking Democrat, but two names have emerged as possibilities for Republican Chairman. The first is Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the current Ranking Member, and the second is Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

    On the House side the picture is much clearer. The current Agriculture Committee Chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma has been term-limited in his Chairmanship and must step down from that position and the new Chairman has already been selected. Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas has been selected for the job. Conaway previously served as the Chairman of the Livestock Subcommittee and has a great understanding of animal issues. The Ranking Member will remain Rep. Colin Peterson of Minnesota.

    On the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, the Chairman will remain Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama. The Ranking Democrat is anticipated to remain Rep. Sam Farr of California.

    While the shifts in leadership are substantial, the changes in actual committee membership will be just as important. Several long-serving members of both the House and Senate Agriculture and Agriculture Appropriations Committees either chose to retire or lost their bid for reelection. Educating their replacements on the importance of agriculture, and more specifically, the roll of animal agriculture, is a must in the coming months.

    Committee Advances Feed the Future Legislation

    On November 20th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved H.R. 5656, the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act, which that would authorize the Feed the Future program, a joint effort between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is designed to help boost food security and fight malnutrition in developing countries. To date, the program has operated without statutory authorization, using only the authority granted through appropriations. Companion legislation, S. 2909, has been introduced in the Senate, but there is been no committee action. The bill has bipartisan support, but faces uncertainty given the limited number of legislative days in the lame duck Congress.

    NAS Study on Animal Science Nearing Completion

    The National Academies of Science (NAS) study entitled “Sustainability Considerations for the Future of Animal Agriculture Science Research” is nearing completion as the committee works through the final stages of the process. NAS recently stated that the publication date for the study will be announced in January 2015. The study began in February 2014 and was scheduled to be completed in 12 months.

    GMO Labeling Debate Continues

    GMO labeling initiatives were on the ballot in Oregon and Colorado for the November elections. Voters in Colorado sent a clear message that they did not support mandatory labeling of GMO products, defeating the initiative by a 2 to 1 margin. In Oregon, the vote was so close that it will require a recount. After canvassing all of the votes, the opposition is clinging to an 800 vote lead, well within the margin for an automatic recount.

    Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing Dec. 10 on a bill that would pre-empt states from establishing their own labeling requirements for foods containing GMOs. H.R. 4432, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has some bipartisan support but in unlikely to move in the lame duck session.

    Ag Groups Reach Agreement on Big Data

    On November 13th, representatives from major agriculture groups and agricultural technology companies announced that they had reached an agreement around a set of principles for use and control of data. The principles identified include: producer education, data ownership and control, notice, choice to opt in/out, transparency, portability, and data retention and availability. A copy of the principles can be found by clicking here.

    October
    November 4, 2014

    WTO Finds U.S. COOL Rules in Violation

    On October 20th, a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel released a report that the United States Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations are in violation of rules. The dispute was raised by Canada and Mexico who are arguing that the labeling requirements are distorting trade between the countries. The compliance panel concluded that “the amended COOL measure increases the original COOL measure's detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market, because it necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin; entails a higher recordkeeping burden; and increases the original COOL measure's incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.” A summary of the findings can be found here.

    The U.S. has 60 days to appeal the ruling. An appellate body would consider the appeal and then decide issue a final determination on compliance. If they prevail, Canada and Mexico could seek compensation leading to retaliatory tariffs. In response to the ruling, industry is encouraging the administration to work with Congress to amend the COOL legislation to bring it into WTO compliance.

    Senators Call for New Poultry Pathogen Limits

    Senators Feinstein (CA), Durbin (IL) and Gillibrand (NY) recently sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that the department move quickly to establish stricter pathogen standards for salmonella and campylobacter. The request comes in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which identifies flaws in the current poultry inspection system and a report from the Center for Science and Public Interest and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The GAO report finds that while USDA has taken some steps to improve the system, performance measures need to be set for both salmonella and campylobacter. The Pew report examines recent attempts to modernize the U.S. system and what other countries are doing to address pathogens. USDA had previously indicated that it would set new standards by the end of fiscal year 2014.

    FDA to Hold Public Meeting on FSMA Rules

    On September 29th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a series of revised proposed rules dealing with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The four amended rules are: preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, produce safety and foreign supplier verification. FDA has announced that it will hold a public meeting on November 13th to receive public comments on the recently released, including preventive controls for animal food. Click here for additional details about the public meeting. More information about the proposed rule on animal food can be found here.

    GMO Labeling on Ballot in Oregon and Colorado

    During the November 4th elections, voters in Oregon and Colorado will be deciding whether their states will require mandatory labels for products including genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Voters in California and Washington State have rejected such a mandate in recent years. Recent polling suggests that the vote could be close in Oregon, while the latest numbers in Colorado suggest that those opposing the measure currently have the upper hand. Vermont is the only state to approve mandatory GMO labeling to date, with its requirements scheduled to go into effect in 2016.

    FDA Agrees to Settlement on Food Additives

    On October 20th it was announced that FDA and the Center for Food Safety had reached a settlement regarding how food substances can be determined “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). The settlement ends a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety seeking to invalidate the current notification process by which companies are currently receiving GRAS status. Under the settlement, FDA would be required to finalize a rule establishing the new GRAS process by August 2016.

    FASS Washington Representative Briefs FASS Board

    On October 14th, FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith addressed the FASS Board of Directors during its fall meeting. Walt briefed board members on the latest developments with the National Academies of Science Study on animal science, fiscal year 2015 appropriations, and other policy issues impacting agriculture research and animal science.

    September
    October 2, 2014

    President Obama Signs Executive Order on Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance

    On September 18th, President Obama signed an Executive Order entitled: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The administration has been increasing it focus on antimicrobial resistance and ways to address the issue. The order directs key federal agencies to take action to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and establishes a Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (Task Force), which will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services.

    The Executive Order articulates a number of actions for the Task Force including the development procedures for creating and integrating surveillance systems and laboratory networks to provide timely, high-quality data in healthcare and agricultural settings, including detailed genomic data to adequately track resistant bacteria across diverse settings. The Task Force will also describe steps that departments and agencies should take to encourage the development of new and next-generation antibiotics, diagnostics, and alternatives to traditional antibiotics. Of particular note for animal agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration is directed to continue taking steps to eliminate agricultural use of medically important antibiotics for growth-promotion purposes.

    The Task Force is also charged with developing an action plan to implement the order as well as the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria which was also released on September 18th. The National Strategy outlines the following five goals:

    1. Slow the emergence and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
    2. Strengthen National efforts to identify and report cases of antibiotic resistance.
    3. Advance the development and use of rapid diagnostic tests for the identification and characterization of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    4. Accelerate basic and applied research and development for new antibiotics as well as other therapeutics and vaccines.
    5. Improve international collaboration, capacities for antibiotic-resistance prevention, surveillance, control, and antibiotic research and development.

    In addition, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recently released a related report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance which can be found by click here. The PCAST report focuses on the following three areas of addressing the rise in antibiotic resistance:

    1. Improved surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to enable effective response, stop outbreaks, and limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms.
    2. Increased longevity of current and new antibiotics, by promoting appropriate use, preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and scaling up proven interventions to decrease the rate at which microbes develop resistance.
    3. Increased rates of discovery and development of new antibiotics.

    By February 15, 2015, the Task Force will submit a 5-year National Action Plan to the President that outlines specific actions to be taken to implement the Strategy. The Task Force is also required to submit an update to the President within 180 days of the signing of the Executive Order describing the progress towards implementing the action plan and strategy.

    National Academies of Science Releases AFRI Study

    On September 9th, the National Academies of Science (NAS) released a study entitled "Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program". The study was commissioned by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and is designed to perform an independent assessment of the AFRI program, including the quality and value of research funded by the program and the prospects for its success in meeting established goals and outcomes. To conduct the study, NAS appointed a 16 person committee chaired by Vic Lechtenberg of Purdue University.

    The committee reached the following conclusions and made corresponding recommendations:

    CONCLUSION 1:AFRI plays a critical and unique role in the nation's overall R&D portfolio because its mandated scope, mission, and responsibilities are focused on the most important national and international challenges facing food and agriculture. But it has not been adequately given the resources needed to meet contemporary and likely future challenges.

    RECOMMENDATION 1:The United States should strengthen its public investment in competitive agricultural R&D to ensure that it continues its role of a global leader in the innovations and technologies that are needed to promote health and well-being and to feed growing worldwide populations sustainably.

    CONCLUSION 2:AFRI is unnecessarily complex, difficult to depict clearly, and characterized by overlapping components that do not clearly align with priorities identified in authorizing legislation.

    RECOMMENDATION 2:NIFA should simplify the AFRI program structure by realigning it to more clearly address its specific mission and mandates as defined in authorizing legislation.

    CONCLUSION 3:AFRI does not have clearly articulated plans to guide its priority-setting, management processes, and interagency collaboration.

    RECOMMENDATION 3:AFRI should develop a strategic plan that identifies priorities for its overall program goals for meeting them and a framework for assessing the program's progress.

    CONCLUSION 4:AFRI's complex and diffuse management structure has made it difficult to efficiently and effectively manage the program.

    RECOMMENDATION 4:To enhance program accountability and management, AFRI should have a dedicated leader who manages the program on a daily basis.

    In addition to the primary conclusions and recommendations listed above, the report includes additional secondary conclusions and recommendations that go into greater detail about AFRI program administration. A full copy of the report can be found by clicking here.

    Congress Passes Continuing Resolution

    On Wednesday, September 17th, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) funding the government through December 11th. The Senate passed the resolution on September 18th and the President signed it the following day. This paved the way for Congress to leave Washington and hit the campaign trail ahead of the November elections. The CR provides $1 trillion to keep the government running. In addition to continued funding for USDA and other federal agencies, the spending bill includes $88 million to combat the Ebola epidemic, $64 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs and authorizes the U.S. to arm and train Syrian rebels. Congress will have to return after the elections and take action before the December 11th deadline to avoid a shutdown.

    FASS Signs Letters Supporting AFRI and SEPRL

    FASS and the founding societies joined forces with the AFRI Coalition to send a letter expressing support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Both the House and Senate versions of the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill include $325 million for the AFRI program. This is also the same level requested in the President's budget.

    Similarly, FASS and the founding societies signed on to an Animal Agriculture Coalition letter requesting Congressional support for the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL). Construction of a new SEPRL has been identified by USDA as the highest facility priority within the Agriculture Research Service. The House version of the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes $155 million for SEPRL, while no funding is included in the Senate version. The President's budget request references the need for the SEPRL in its Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.

    August
    September 3, 2014

    FFAR Holds First Meeting, Officers Selected

    The Board of Directors of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) held its first meeting on August 7th. During the meeting, the Board voted to elect the first set of officers to govern the Foundation. Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will serve as Chairman of the FFAR Board of Directors and Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum will serve as Vice Chairman. FFAR is a non-profit foundation created by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide an additional mechanism to solicit funds to support food and agriculture research. The Farm Bill includes $200 million in seed money for the foundation that will be used to match donations received to support research projects.

    NAS Schedules Fourth Meeting for Animal Science Committee

    The National Academies of Science committee undertaking the study entitled "Sustainability Considerations for the Future of Animal Agriculture Science Research" will meet for a fourth time on September 8-9th. The meeting will be closed to the public as committee members continue their internal work to draft the report. The report is expected to identify critical R&D, technologies, and resource needs for research in the field of animal agriculture, both nationally and internationally. Previous committee meetings were held in March, May, and July of 2014, and a final report based on their deliberations will be completed in late 2014. More information on the study can be found by clicking here.

    Appropriations Outlook

    As Congress returns from August recess on September 8th, they still have the task of providing appropriations for fiscal year 2015. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have passed their respective versions of the agriculture appropriations bill, but it appears unlikely that a stand-alone appropriations bill for agriculture will pass before the fiscal year ends on September 30th. With a limited number of legislative days in September, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution that would likely last until sometime in December. This would get members of Congress past the 2014 elections. Depending on who controls Congress after the November elections, an omnibus appropriations bill or a continuing resolution covering the remainder of the year are the most likely outcomes.

    July
    August 5, 2014

    USDA Announces Formation of FFAR Board

    On July 23rd, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the initial members of the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). Authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance. Congress also provided $200 million for the foundation which must be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects.

    The Farm Bill directed USDA and the National Academies of Science to develop lists of nominees for the board. The Farm Bill also named five ex-officio members and tasked them with making the selection of the initial board members. The ex-officio members named in the Farm Bill are:

    • The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
    • Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA's Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist
    • Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service
    • Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture
    • Dr. France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation.

    The initial members of the FFAR board will be:

    • Dr. Kathryn Boor - the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
    • Dr. Douglas Buhler - Director of AgBioResearch and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University
    • Dr. Nancy Creamer - Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems, North Carolina State University
    • Dr. Deborah Delmer - Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of California-Davis
    • The Honorable Dan Glickman - former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, current Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Congressional Program
    • Dr. Robert Horsch - Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Pamela Johnson - Chairwoman, National Corn Growers Association
    • Dr. Mark E. Keenum - President, Mississippi State University
    • Dr. Michael Ladisch - Director of the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University
    • Dr. Christopher Mallett - Vice President of Research & Development, Cargill, Inc.
    • Dr. Pamela Matson - Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
    • Dr. Terry McElwain - Associate Director and Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and Executive Director, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University
    • Dr. Stanley Prusiner - Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology, University of California-San Francisco and 1997 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine
    • Dr. Yehia "Mo" Saif - Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
    • Dr. Barbara Schaal - Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Biographies of the board members can be found by clicking here. Of the 15 board members, at least five of them have significant experience with animal science, which will be important to ensure that the animal sciences have a voice as the board sets up the operating structure for the foundation and funding decisions are ultimately made. It is expected that the newly appointed board will hold its first meeting in the next few weeks.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the ASAS/ADSA Joint Annual Meeting in Kansas City. Lowell and Walt gave presentations to the ADSA Board and the ASAS Board updating them on current policy issues impacting the animal sciences and ongoing FASS Science Policy activities. They also spoke during the ASAS Business Meeting and spent time in the FASS Expo Booth meeting with society members and discussion science policy issues.

    NIFA Director Addresses JAM Participants

    NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy addressed participants at the ASAS/ADSA Joint Annual Meeting via video conference on Wednesday, July 23rd. Dr. Ramaswamy updated members about the current budget situation for the agency and stated that the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill was a positive step forward. He recognized the efforts of FASS in helping tell the story about the importance of federal funding for agriculture research and reiterated his commitment to funding for the animal sciences and addressing past funding discrepancies. He mentioned that NIFA is working on a new report breaking down recent AFRI funding and noted that the animal sciences should be encouraged by the findings.

    Ramaswamy also reported that he has taken action on a number of issues that ADSA and ASAS society members raised when he spoke at JAM in 2012. He cited examples including:

    • Increasing student resources
      • Increased funding for the Educational Literacy project
      • Roll out of program for research and extension experiences for undergraduates
    • “Blue Sky” project funds that enable researchers to work with National Program Leaders through a simplified process to fund exploratory research ideas
    • Increase critical research in production agriculture, with a new RFA (due in August)
    • New Water for Agriculture Challenge Area RFA was developed after input and comments from about 10,000 people.

    He closed by encouraging society members to continue “telling their story” about the importance and value of animal science research and engaging with NIFA with ideas and input to strengthen programs for the future.

    NAS Animal Science Study Committee Hold Third Meeting

    The National Academies of Science committee conducting the study on considerations for the future of animal science research held its third meeting in early July. The committee’s first two meetings included public sessions where it heard from various speakers about issues impacting animal science. The third meeting was closed to the public and focused on the next steps for drafting its report. The committee is working to complete the report before the end of calendar year 2014.

    FASS Signs Letter Supporting Federal Participation in Scientific Meetings

    FASS, ADSA and ASAS joined 70 science and engineering organizations, collectively representing hundreds of thousands of U.S. scientists and engineers sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee regarding an amendment to S. 1347, the Conference Accountability Act, that would further restrict federal scientists from participating in scientific meetings. The letter expresses concerns about the unintended negative consequences of restrictions on conference participation and travel for federal and contractor employees who are also scientists and engineers.

    The issue of federal participation in conferences has been a hot topic since issues were raised about policies and expenses related to such travel. The proposed Coburn-Heitkamp substitute amendment to S. 1347---strengthens the Administration’s existing barriers to conference participation, which are already harming the scientific enterprise and national competitiveness. While the amendment was adopted by the committee by voice vote on July 30th, the strong showing of concern by the 70 organizations will be helpful in articulating the problems with the language as the bill continues to move through the legislative process.

    June
    July 3, 2014

    FASS Science Policy Committee Meets in DC

    On June 3-4, members of the FASS Science Policy Committee met in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibility of conducting a workshop in 2015 highlighting the importance of interagency collaboration. Committee members met with representatives from the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Science Foundation to discuss the workshop concept and learn more about current efforts to support interagency collaboration. The cosponsored NIFA/NIH research program on Dual Use/Dual Benefit emerged as a model for demonstrating a successful mechanism for agencies to jointly support animal related research. The committee also met with industry representatives regarding the workshop as well as other FASS related activities. The concept was well received by agency and industry representatives and the Science Policy Committee is developing next steps for planning a 2015 event.

    Agriculture Appropriations Stalled in House and Senate

    After swift approvals of the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the respective versions of the bill have stalled in both chambers of Congress. The House began consideration the Agriculture Appropriations Bill in mid-June, but set the measure aside after the primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The House leadership shake-up has postponed further consideration until at least after the Fourth of July break.

    In the Senate, the Agriculture Appropriations Bill has been combined with the Transportation-HUD and Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills to form a "minibus" appropriations package. Senate action on the legislation also began in mid-June, only to have the package pulled from the Senate floor after a dispute over which amendments would be allowed for consideration. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed a vote on his amendment to block the Environmental Protection Agency's plans to restrict carbon emissions from existing power plants. Senator McConnell wanted the amendment to be brought up under the current rule that germane amendments require 51 votes for passage. Senate Majority Leader Reid has stated that he will only allow the amendment under a 60 vote requirement for passage. This has placed the leaders at an impasse and it is not clear when the package will be brought back to the floor for further consideration.

    FASS, Founding Societies, Sign Letter to Appropriations Committees

    On July 11th, FASS and the three founding societies were among 32 members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition to sign a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees thanking them for their support of programs related to agriculture research and animal agriculture. The letter highlights funding provided in the bill for key programs within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    FASS Washington Representative Meets with National Animal Nutrition Program

    On June 19th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel met with members of the National Animal Nutrition Program Coordinating Committee during their annual meeting in Washington. Lowell spoke to the committee about FASS science policy activities as well as current issues including appropriations, farm bill implementation and the National Academies of Science study on animal science. The group also heard from representatives of the National Academies of Science, Food and Drug Administration and the International Life Sciences Institute.

    May
    June 2, 2014

    House and Senate Committees Advance Agriculture Appropriations Bills

    House Summary

    On May 20th, the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies met to consider its appropriations bill for FY 2015. The full House Appropriations committee approved the bill on May 29th. The bill totals $20.9 billion in discretionary funding, which is equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the House bill includes $774 million for NIFA Research and Education Activities, which is $2 million above the FY 2014 funding level. This includes $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The bill provides $5 million for the expanded Section 1433 program, up from $4 million in FY 2014. Almost all other NIFA accounts were funded at their FY 2014 level. The House bill does not provide any funding for the Innovation Institutes proposed in the President's budget.

    NIFA Extension Activities would receive $467,339,000, approximately $2 million less than FY 2014. The House bill provides $1.12 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), a $2 million decrease from last year. During committee consideration, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment to provide $155 million for ARS buildings and facilities. These funds would go to support construction of the proposed Southeast Poultry Disease Research Laboratory that was requested in the President's budget.

    The House report also includes language regarding the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that was created in the 2014 farm bill. The committee expressed its concerns about USDA obligating the full $200 million available before the foundation has been established and matching funds have been received. The committee directs USDA not to expend any funds other than those necessary to get the foundation established and to report to the committee no later than January 1, 2015.

    A copy of the committee approved bill (click here) and report (click here) can be found on the committee website.

    Senate Summary

    In the Senate, the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met on May 20th to consider its version of the FY 2015 spending legislation. The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill on May 22nd. The bill provides $1.292 billion for National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which is $15 million above fiscal year 2014. This amount includes $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, $244 million for Hatch Act and $300 million for Smith-Lever funding. The Senate bill provides level funding of $4 million for Section 1433. The Senate bill would fund the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the level of $1.139 billion, which is $17 million above fiscal year 2014. The Senate bill (click here) and report (click here) are now available on the committee website.

    Below is a table of selected agricultural research accounts reflecting the recently released House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bills:

    Selected Agriculture Appropriations Accounts (As of May 29, 2014)

    Account
    FY 2014 - Enacted
    FY 2015 – President's Budget
    FY 2015 – House
    FY 2015 - Senate
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1.154 billion
    $1.136 billion
    $1.12 billion
    $1.139 billion
    Southeast Poultry Disease Research Laboratory
    $0
    $155 million
    $155 million
    $0
    NIFA Research and Education
    $772 million
    $837 million
    $774 million
    $787 million
    Hatch
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    $244 million
    AFRI
    $316 million
    $325 million
    $325 million
    $325 million
    Expanded Section 1433
    $4 million
    $0
    $5 million
    $4 million
    (NEW)Innovation Institutes
    $0
    $75 million
    $0
    $0
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $469 million
    $468 million
    $467 million
    $472 million
    Smith Lever
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    $300 million
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $35 million
    $29 million
    $32 million
    $32 million

    NAS Animal Science Committee Holds Second Meeting

    The National Academies of Science (NAS) committee conducting the study entitled “Consideration for the Future of Animal Science Research” held its second meeting on May 13-14. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the public portion of the meeting. During the public session, the committee heard from speakers on topics important to animal agriculture ranging from funding equity for animal science to climate and environmental considerations and international development.

    Speakers represented a variety of university and NGO including:

    Henning Steinfeld – Food and Agriculture Organization

    Russell Cross – Texas A&M University and National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science

    Montague Demment and Anne-Clair Hery – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

    Jude Capper – Montana State University

    Raymond Anthony – University of Alaska-Anchorage

    Randy Brummet – World Bank

    Clare Narrod – University of Maryland

    It is anticipated that the committee will hold one more meeting before completing its work later this year. More information on the study and the committee meetings can be found by clicking here.

    FASS Science Policy Committee to Meet in Washington

    The FASS Science Policy Committee will meet in Washington, DC on June 3-4 to hold committee business meetings and engage with federal agencies and industry partners. The committee is planning to meet with representatives from agencies including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to discuss was to promote interagency collaboration in animal science. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith are organizing the meetings with agencies and industry.

    April
    May 1, 2014

    FASS Joins Over 90 Organizations Urging Congress to Support Animal Science

    On March 28th, 92 national and state agriculture organizations, including FASS, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in support of $10 million in fiscal year 2015 for Section 1433 Continuing Animal Health and Disease, Food Security, and Stewardship Research, Education and Extension Programs. The Section 1433 program was expanded in the recently passed farm bill to include a new competitive grants program focused on the high priority research areas of food security, one health and stewardship. The new program was established to help reverse the trend of decreasing federal investments in animal science. A copy of the final letter can be found here.

    FASS Submits Testimony to Senate Appropriations Committee

    The Senate Appropriations Committee will be holding a hearing on April 29th entitled "Driving Innovation through Federal Investments". Witnesses for the hearing include officials from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In addition to hearing from government witnesses, the committee invited outside testimony from interested groups. FASS has capitalized on this opportunity and submitted testimony about the importance of the federal investment in animal science. FASS testimony highlights the focal areas identified by the Farm Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2012 process and articulates the need for federal investments to support research in food security, one health and stewardship. More information on the hearing can be found here.

    FASS Washington Representative Co-Authors AAAS R&D Budget Chapter

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel co-authored a chapter of the AAAS Report XXXIX: Research and Development FY 2015 which is published annually by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The report is a collective product of the Intersociety Working Group, composed of more than 30 leading science societies and other non-governmental organizations in the science and innovation policy space. This marks the fifth year that Lowell has participated in the development of Chapter 27 which takes an interagency look at the President’s budget related to food, nutrition, agriculture and natural resources. A copy of Chapter 27 can be found here.

    NAS Schedules Second Meeting for Animal Science Study

    The National Academies of Science (NAS) has scheduled a second meeting of the committee conducting the study Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research. The meeting will take place in Washington, DC on May 13th. Scheduled speakers for the open session include:

    • Henning Steinfeld, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [Via teleconference]
    • Russell Cross, Texas A&M University
    • Montague W. Demment and Anne-Clair Hery, Association of Public & Land-grant Universities
    • Jude Capper, Montana State University [Via teleconference]
    • Raymond Anthony, University of Alaska-Anchorage
    • Randy Brummett, World Bank
    • Clare Narrod, University of Maryland

    More information on the study can be found here.

    FASS Makes Nominations to FFAR Board

    Efforts are underway to formalize the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), authorized by the recently passed farm bill. The farm bill directs the National Academies of Science (NAS) and USDA to name the initial board of directors for the foundation. NAS has been tasked with naming 8 scientists to the board, while USDA will name 7 industry representatives to the board. The FASS Science Policy Committee has submitted nominations to both NAS and USDA in an effort to ensure that the animal sciences are well represented on the board. The NAS solicitation announcement can be found http://dels.nas.edu/global/banr/ffar. The USDA announcement in the Federal Register can be found here.

    February
    March 3, 2014

    Farm Bill Includes New Research Programs

    On February 7th, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the Farm Bill, into law. The signing marked the end of a long and sometimes controversial process to reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs. Ultimately, the bill received bipartisan support in both the House (passed 251-166) and Senate (68-32). The bill is projected to cost $956 billion over ten years, with $756 billion going to nutrition programs.

    Of particular interest to the animal sciences, the bill includes a new competitive grants program focused on priorities identified in the Farm Animal Integrated Research 2012 (FAIR 2012) report. The new program is part of an expanded Section 1433, which has traditionally been a formula-based fund for animal health and disease. Under the new Farm Bill, Section 1433 is expanded to include a competitive grants program focused on food security, one health and stewardship. The current formula program will continue to operate as it has in the past. The Farm Bill authorizes $25 million per year for Section 1433. The first $5 million in appropriations will go to the formula fund ($4 million was allocated in fiscal year 2014). For all funds above $5 million, 85 percent will go to the new competitive grants program and 15 percent will go to the formula fund.

    In addition to the new competitive grants program for animal science, the Farm Bill also establishes the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). FFAR will be a non-governmental foundation designed to attract new private investments in agricultural research. The bill provides $200 million in seed money to start the foundation.

    Groups Thank Congress for New Agricultural Research Foundation

    FASS joined over 60 other agriculture organizations in sending a letter to Farm Bill conferees thanking them for including the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in the recently passed Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes the establishment of FFAR, which will be a non-governmental foundation designed to attract new private investments in agricultural research. The bill provides $200 million in seed money to start the foundation.

    NAS Moves Forward With Animal Science Study

    During the week of February 24th, the National Academies of Science (NAS) posted committee and meeting materials for the upcoming study entitled “Sustainability Considerations for the Future of Animal Agriculture Science Research”. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for March 10th and a draft agenda can be found by clicking here. Dr. Mary Beck, co-chair of the FAIR 2012 process and Head of the Poultry Science Department at Mississippi State University, is scheduled to address the panel regarding the results of the FAIR 2012 process. Other speakers include representatives from study sponsoring organizations, industry and NGOs. NAS has also posted the proposed committee members, many of whom are members of FASS founding societies.

    FASS Washington Representative Briefs ADSA Board

    On February 8th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel met with the ADSA Board of Directors at their mid-year meeting. Lowell briefed the board on FASS activities in Washington, including updates on the Farm Bill, budget and NAS study on animal science. Lowell also discussed the ongoing work of the FASS Science Policy Committee.

    January
    February 4, 2014

    House Passes Farm Bill Conference Report

    On January 29th the House of Representatives passed the conference report for the Farm Bill (H.R. 2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014), setting up the end of an over two year process to reauthorize farm and nutrition programs. The conference report is estimated to cost $956 billion over the next ten years, with $756 billion going to nutrition programs. This reflects approximately $16.6 billion in savings over the life of the bill. The legislation passed by a vote of 251 – 169 with bipartisan support. The Senate is expected to pass the bill during the week of February 3rd.

    While the bill has bipartisan support in Congress and broad support from much of the agriculture industry, livestock groups are in strong opposition to the Farm Bill conference report because of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Grain Inspections, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations. The livestock industry pushed for changes to mandatory COOL citing WTO concerns and challenges from Mexico and Canada. The industry also hoped the conference report would include House provisions intended to reign in GIPSA. The conference report did not address either of these issues, resulting in opposition from the livestock industry.

    In the research title, the animal science initiative that was part of the Senate version of the Farm Bill is included in the final package in an amended form. While the Senate bill had the initiative as a new stand-alone program, the compromise language resulted in an expansion of Section 1433, which traditionally has been a formula fund for animal health and disease research. Under the new language, Section 1433 is expanded to include a competitive grants program with a broader scope to include the three focal areas of Food Security, One Health and Stewardship, as identified by the FAIR 2012 report and the Senate language. The new program is authorized for $25 million in appropriations. The Statement of Managers references the FAIR 2012 process and directs USDA to use the priorities identified in FAIR 2012 as they administer the new program.

    The research title also establishes the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). FFAR is modeled after the NIH Foundation as a mechanism to attract private funds to support agriculture research. FFAR would be a non-governmental entity governed by a board of directors. The Farm Bill also provides $200 million in seed money to help the foundation get started.

    A copy of the conference report can be found by clicking here.

    Congress Finalizes FY 2014 Appropriations

    On January 13th, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2014. The bill was passed by the House on January 15th, and the Senate followed suit on the 16th. There is some good news for agricultural research in the bill, as most of the research related items were funded at, or near, the Senate proposed levels (which in some cases were significantly higher than the House proposed levels). For example, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is funded at $316, 409,000 in the omnibus. That was the level proposed by the Senate and represents a $26 million increase over FY 2013.

    Below is a summary of how some of the major USDA research related accounts fare in the omnibus:

     
    FY 2013 Enacted
    FY 2014 Senate
    FY 2014 House
    FY 2014 Omnibus
    NIFA Research and Education Activities
    $718,636,000
    $772,794,000
    $718,714,000
    $772,559,000
    AFRI
    $290,468,000
    $316,409,000
    $290,657,000
    $316,409,000
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $463,896,000
    $469,399,000
    $459,011,000
    $469,191,000
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $20,942,000
    $35,317,000
    $31,137,000
    $35,317,000
    Agricultural Research Service
    $1,072,015,000
    $1,123,150,000
    $1,074,163,000
    $1,122,482,000

    Looking ahead to fiscal year 2015, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has indicated that the President’s Budget Request for FY 2015 will be released on March 5th. This is approximately a month later than the traditional timeline for Presidential budget submissions.

    National Academies of Science Study on Animal Science Moving Forward

    FASS Washington Representatives continue to work closely with the USDA and the National Academies of Science (NAS) on a consensus study entitled “Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research”. The consensus study will build on the results of FAIR 2012 and work done by the USDA to identify the resources and strategies needed to meet growing food security demands in a sustainable manner. NAS recently reported that full funding for the animal science study has been received, allowing the study to proceed. The study is supported by 8 entities, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, National Pork Board, Tyson Foods, Inc., Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. NAS is expected to post the draft committee list in February for public comment. The first committee meeting will likely be in March with the goal of completing the study before the end of 2014.

    2013

    December
    January 3, 2014

    Farm Bill Negotiations Continue, House Passes Short Term Extension

    Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are making progress towards reaching a deal on the Farm Bill. Proposals for dealing with the commodity title were recently shared with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine costs of the policy changes. Indications are that the CBO scores are encouraging, which will enable the committees to move forward. However, it is clear that a deal will not be complete by the end of 2013. This prompted the House to pass a one month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill shortly before they adjourned for the holidays on December 13th. The House passed the month long extension to avoid what is termed the "Dairy Cliff", which could result in a doubling of the price for a gallon of milk. However, the Senate is resisting passage of the short term extension. Senate leaders believe that a Farm Bill can be completed before USDA is ready to implement permanent law and trigger milk price increases. USDA has indicated that it will take some time for it to implement permanent law and that as long as a Farm Bill is completed in January dairy prices will not be impacted.

    FDA Finalizes Voluntary Rules on Antibiotic Use

    On December 11th, the Food and Drug Administration published a set of final voluntary rules to phase out certain antibiotic use in farm animals. The plan is intended to help phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for food production purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. The plan would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses of such drugs. Representatives from the animal health industry signaled support for the voluntary policy, while consumer groups stated concern that the rules don't go far enough. Click here for more information on FDA's policies on antimicrobial resistance.

    House and Senate Reach Budget Deal

    The House and Senate Conference Committee on the Budget have reached an agreement on the U.S. budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. This agreement will provide topline spending levels for the appropriations committee and help bring more certainty to the federal budget process for the next two years.

    Once the budget conference agreement is adopted it will allow House and Senate Appropriators to begin negotiations on how to divvy up the total $1.012 trillion ($520.46 billion for defense discretionary, and $491.77 billion for non-defense discretionary) spending level among the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees for FY 2014. The 2014 level is down from the 2013 level of $1.028 trillion but is $45 billion above the $967 billion level mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (sequestration level). The FY 2015 topline number totals $1.014 trillion ($521.37 billion for defense and $492.45 billion for non-defense discretionary).

    Reports indicate that Congress has negotiated the funding levels, known as "302(b) allocations," for the 12 subcommittees, but these numbers have not yet been made public. This process determines the amount of funding that will be available for the various appropriations bills, including agriculture. Subcommittee leaders have been tasked with drafting their bills by January 2nd, in hopes that an omnibus spending package can be approved by January 10th. In order to avoid another government shutdown the 12 appropriations bills must be enacted by January 15 when the current Continuing Resolution (P.L. 113-46) expires.

    November
    December 3, 2013

    FASS Submits Comments on REE Action Plan

    USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Cathy Woteki recently developed a revised draft of the REE Action Plan that outlines goals and action items for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS). The initial REE Action Plan was released in February of 2012. In response to the REE Mission Area’s request for stakeholder input, FASS submitted its comments to the Under Secretary’s office on November 26th.

    Through its comments, FASS highlighted the Farm Animal Integrated Research 2012 (FAIR 2012) process that was completed last year to identify key priorities for the animal sciences. FASS encouraged incorporation of the FAIR 2012 priorities into the Action Plan and also urged that these priorities are reflected in future budget decisions at USDA. In addition to the research priorities identified by FAIR 2012, FASS highlighted a number of crosscutting issues raised in the FAIR 2012 report that are important factors for the overall success of REE programs. Crosscutting issues include: ensuring a balanced portfolio, having a proper mix of size and scope of projects, enhanced collaborations across agencies, improving public perception of animal agriculture, consistency and predictability of regulations, and utilization of data mining.

    After considering stakeholder comments, it is expected that USDA will publish the revised REE Action Plan early next year.

    No Deal Yet on Farm Bill Conference

    Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committee met multiple times during the week of November 18th in an attempt to resolve their differences on the Farm Bill. Despite numerous meetings, no deal has been reached on some of the key farm safety net policies and reforms to nutrition programs. While major issues on farm and nutrition programs remain outstanding, Congressional staff are making progress on many of the other Farm Bill titles including Research.

    With no deal in place ahead of Thanksgiving, negotiators will only have a small window of time after the Thanksgiving break to get a conference report completed. House leaders have indicated that December 13th is the date when the House will adjourn for the remainder of the year, setting up a hard deadline for the Farm Bill to be completed in calendar year 2013.

    Without a deal by December 13th, pressure will mount for Congress to pass a short term extension to avert what some call the “dairy cliff”. If an extension is not adopted, the suspension of permanent law expires and the 1938 & 1949 permanent law (Agriculture Adjustment Act) would resume. One of the more immediate impacts will be on dairy prices, as USDA would be required to alter the support price for milk in accordance with permanent law. Earlier this year USDA cited some of the potential impacts of reverting back to permanent law. For example, USDA estimated the minimum support level for milk (under 75% of parity in permanent law) would be $38.55/cwt., doubling the August 2013 market price for milk of $19.30/cwt. Such policy change would have a significant impact on milk prices, something that members of Congress will want to avoid.

    Status of Budget Negotiations

    Leaders of the House and Senate Budget Conference Committee continue to meet and are narrowing the scope of their budget negotiations in order to reach an agreement. While no deal has been reached yet, their plan would include: 1.) Providing some relief from the pending $20 billion discretionary budget sequestration set to take effect in mid-January 2014, and 2.) Providing top-line budget numbers for discretionary spending for both the current fiscal year (2014) and 2015.

    Under current law (Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011) the total FY 2014 discretionary spending level would be reduced from the FY 2013 level of $986 billion to $967 billion. However, budget negotiators including House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) may soon propose reducing sequestration cuts by $65 billion over the two fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The increased (from BCA level) spending will be offset by reductions in mandatory spending (federal retirement system, Medicare payments to hospitals), increasing user fees (aviation) and the sale of federal assets. Fundamental changes to entitlement programs (that Republicans want) and additional revenue through tax increases (that Democrats want) are off the table.

    It remains uncertain if such softening of the budget sequestration will have significant impacts to research budgets. But, with top-line budget numbers in place for congressional appropriators it will bring more certainty to the budget process – at least for the next 12-to-18 months.

    The House and Senate are currently in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. The House returns on December 2 and Senate returns on December 9. Both Budget Committee Chairs Murray and Ryan are continuing to talk during the recess with the hope of striking a deal and issuing a report to Congress on, or before their legislated deadline of December 13. If they do reach an agreement both legislative chambers will have up to 6 weeks to review and adopt their proposal before the current continuing resolution (P.L. 113-46) expires on January 15.

    According to the U.S. House calendar there are only 15 legislative days before the January 15 expiration of the current continuing resolution.

    October
    November 1, 2013

    House and Senate Begin Farm Bill Conference

    The House and Senate have begun formal conference proceedings to resolve the differences between their respective versions of the farm bill. This process was delayed by the House’s approach to pass separate farm and nutrition program bills. These separate bills were reunited through a House vote on September 28th and sent over to the Senate. The Senate responded by requesting a conference and both chambers have since named the following conferees for the Farm Bill:

    SENATE CONFEREES

    Democrats
    Republicans
    Debbie Stabenow (MI)
    Thad Cochran (MS)
    Patrick Leahy (VT)
    Pat Roberts (KS)
    Tom Harkin (IA)
    Saxby Chambliss (GA)
    Max Baucus (MT)
    John Boozman (AR)
    Sherrod Brown (OH)
    John Hoeven (ND)
    Amy Klobuchar (MN)
     
    Michael Bennet (CO)
     

    HOUSE CONFEREES

    Republicans
    Democrats
    Frank Lucas (OK)
    Collin Peterson (MN)
    Steve King (IA)
    Mike McIntyre (NC)
    Randy Neugebauer (TX)
    Jim Costa (CA)
    Mike Rogers (AL)
    Tim Walz (MN)
    Mike Conaway (TX)
    Kurt Schrader (OR)
    Glenn Thompson (PA)
    Jim McGovern (MA)
    Austin Scott (GA)
    Suzan Delbene (WA)
    Rick Crawford (AR)
    Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA)
    Martha Roby (AL)
    Filemon Vela (TX)
    Kristi Noem (SD)
     
    Jeff Denham (CA)
     
    Rodney Davis (IL)
     
    Steve Southerland (FL) (Leadership Rep.)
    Marcia Fudge (OH) (Leadership)
    Ed Royce (CA) (Foreign Affairs Committee)
    Eliot Engel (NY) (Foreign Affairs)
    Tom Marino (PA) (Foreign Affairs Committee)
     
    Dave Camp (MI) (Ways & Means Committee)
    Sander Levin (MI) (Ways & Means)
    Sam Johnson (Ways & Means Committee)
     

    These Conferees sat down for the first time publically on Wednesday, October 30 to give opening statements and start to iron out the differences in the bills. Nutrition policy will be one of the most controversial topics in conference (the House bill saves almost $40 billion, while the Senate saves about $4 billion). In addition, several controversial crop insurance issues will also be addressed. The Senate version of the Farm Bill includes provisions that would tie conservation compliance to crop insurance and reduce premium subsidies by 15 percentage points for producers with adjusted gross incomes over $750,000. Neither of these provisions is included in the House version of the bill. However, on October 12th, the House passed a resolution instructing conferees to adopt the Senate’s provision regarding means testing for crop insurance. The House of Representatives will be out of session for the next week and it is anticipated that following the initial conference meeting, staff will begin negotiations in earnest with the goal of finishing the bill as quickly as possible.

    FSIS Releases Animal Handling Guide

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published a Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock to assist establishments in complying with humane handling requirements. This guide represents the Agency’s current thinking on a systematic approach to humane handling of livestock and includes a sample humane handling plan and an assessment tool. FSIS encourages slaughter establishments to use the guide. A copy of the guide can be found by clicking here. FSIS is accepting public comment on the guide until December 30, 2013. Comments can be filed by following the directions found in the Federal Register notice.

    FDA Releases Proposed Rule on Feed Safety

    On October 29th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its proposed rule on Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and preventive controls for food for animals. The proposed rule comes as a part of FDA’s ongoing efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule focuses on preventing problems in order to improve the safety of animal food products. The preventive controls provisions would apply to domestic and imported animal food, including pet food, animal feed, and raw materials and ingredients. Facilities producing animal food would be required to have written plans that identify hazards, specify the steps that will be put in place to minimize or prevent those hazards, identify monitoring procedures and record monitoring results, and specify what actions would be taken to correct problems that arise. The proposed rule would also establish certain Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) that specifically address animal food. A copy of the proposed rule can be found here. FDA has also developed a fact sheet and questions and answers document providing additional details about the proposed rule. FDA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule until February 26, 2014.

    ASAS Holds Congressional Briefing on Food Security

    On Monday, October 28th, the American Society of Animal Science held a Congressional Briefing on the contribution of animal production to global food security. The briefing was well attended with over sixty Congressional and Committee office staffers in attendance. After an introduction by FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith, the program was turned over to speakers including Rod Hill with the University of Idaho, Clint Krehbiel with Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Frank Mitloehner with UC-Davis. Topics specifically covered Included New Technologies Vs Global Food Security and Cattle Biotechnologies reducing Environmental Impacts. This is the second in the ASAS Snack and Fact Speaking Series to be presented on Capitol Hill and it is anticipated that the next in the series will occur after the first of the year.

    September
    October 1, 2013

    House Passes Nutrition Legislation, Takes Procedural Steps Towards Farm Bill Conference

    Traditionally, nutrition programs have been incorporated into comprehensive Farm Bill legislation. The traditional route failed in the House of Representatives during July consideration, primarily because of concerns over spending and reforms to nutrition programs. As a result, the House passed a “farm programs” only Farm Bill and went to work crafting a separate nutrition bill. The product of this process is legislation that would cut nutrition spending by $39 billion over ten years. On September 19th, the House passed this nutrition legislation by a party-line vote of 217-210.

    On Thursday, September 26th, the House Rules Committee took steps to reunite the nutrition and farm pieces of legislation. The House is expected to approve this measure quickly, paving the way for the Senate to ask for a formal conference and name conferees. The Senate has already named conferees once, after House passage of the farm programs only bill at the end of July. However, with the merger of the nutrition and farm bills, the Senate must take action again to name conferees. The Senate is expected to take action on conferees the week of September 30th, with the House following soon after by naming its conferees. House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff have been preparing for conference negotiations, so that work can begin quickly after all of the conferees are named.

    In the meantime, the current extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30th. While authorities will expire, there are no plans to pass a short term extension at this time. Because crops planted in 2013 will continue to be covered under 2008 Farm Bill policies, there are not expected to be any major immediate impacts due to the expiration of authority. This calculation changes at the end of the 2013 calendar year, so Congress will have strong incentive to complete work on the Farm Bill by the end of the year.

    House and Senate Spar Over Budget at End of Fiscal Year

    With the end of the fiscal year looming, leaders in the House and Senate have been trading barbs over how to keep the government running. Without Congressional action by September 30th, the federal government will shut down, including programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The House passed a continuing resolution that would fund the government at current levels through the middle of December. However, the House added a controversial provision that would prohibit the use of funds to administer programs under Obamacare.

    Democratic leaders in the Senate have stated that they will not accept a continuing resolution that includes any policy riders such as the one to defund Obamacare. On Friday, September 27th, the Senate voted to strip the Obamacare language out of the resolution and change the length of the resolution to fund the government only through mid-November. The House rejected the Senate’s Continuing Resolution and passed a version that would fund keep the government running until December, but also delays the individual mandate in Obamacare and repeals the medical device tax. The Senate is expected to vote down the new House resolution, increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown on October 1st. USDA’s plans for responding to a government shutdown can be found by clicking here.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in FASS Board Meeting

    On September 27th, FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the FASS Fall Board Meeting. Lowell and Walt updated the board on the status of the farm bill and fiscal year 2013 appropriations. They also discussed ongoing FASS Science Policy activities including work with coalitions and the status of the National Academies of Science study focused on animal science.

    August
    August 30, 2013

    Efforts Continue on NAS Study on Animal Science

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith are continuing to work with representatives from USDA and the National Academies of Science to advance the consensus study entitled "Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research." The concept grew from discussions last year with USDA officials about the need to build momentum for investments in the animal sciences. Since then, a proposal has been developed and fundraising is underway.

    Strong support is being shown by several animal industry organizations, foundations and the scientific community. NAS has indicated that they are very close to having the funding necessary to bring the study. Once funding is secured, a committee of experts will be impaneled to conduct the study. FASS Washington Representatives are working closely with USDA and NAS to ensure that an appropriate balance of experts from various disciplines across the animal science community and industry are represented on the committee.

    Key questions identified for the study include:

    • Assessing global demand for products of animal origin in 2050 within the framework of ensuring global food security;
    • Evaluating how climate change and limited natural resources may impact the ability to meet future global demand for animal products in sustainable production systems, including typical conventional, alternative and evolving animal production systems;
    • Identifying factors that may impact domestic ability to meet demand for animal products, including the need for trained human capital, product safety and quality, and adoption of new knowledge and technologies;
    • Identifying resources needed to develop and disseminate this knowledge and technology; and
    • Describing the evolution of sustainable animal production systems relevant to production and production efficiency metrics.

    The consensus study is estimated to take approximately 6-9 months, which is significantly shorter than the normal NAS process. It is hoped that this study will begin in fall 2013 and that results will build on FAIR 2012 and increase momentum for future investments in the animal sciences.

    Farm Bill Update

    It has been a quiet August recess for the Farm Bill. Shortly before the August recess, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a version of the farm bill that did not include nutrition programs. Since then, the House leadership has been looking at the development of a separate bill to address nutrition programs. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was recently quoted saying that the House would bring up a nutrition bill in September that includes significant reforms to the nutrition programs such as stricter work requirements. It is estimated that the new House package could same approximately $40 billion from nutrition programs, which is about twice as much as the comprehensive farm bill that was rejected by the House this summer. The Senate bill would save $4 billion.

    These reforms continue to be a major sticking point between Republicans and Democrats and it is unclear whether there will be sufficient votes to pass such a nutrition bill in the House. This also creates uncertainty about conferencing the House and Senate versions of the farm bills that have passed each chamber. The Senate named conferees in July, but the House has yet to do so. Current farm bill authorities expire at the end of September.

    FDA Launches New SafeFeed Web page

    A new web resource containing information about safe feed had been developed by the Animal Feed Safety System (AFSS) Team at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The new web page (www.FDA.gov/SafeFeed) was launched in July and the AFSS Team is encouraging the animal feed industry to review the site and provide ideas on how best to improve the site.

    The Web page provides six links for additional information on:

    1. Seek Ingredient Approval
    2. Manufacture Animal Feed
    3. Learn about Good Animal Feeding Practices
    4. Report a Problem
    5. Ship Animal Feed
    6. Learn about FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act).

    The AFSS Team identified the topics above as the most useful to share with users. Their hope is to shorten the time required for individuals to find relevant information. For example, a user attempting to search for industry guidance for manufacturing animal feed only can click on the "Manufacture Animal Feed" link, which will lead the user to additional links to all the pertinent guidance documents. The FDA SafeFeed page also has links along the side of the Web page containing "News," "Pet Food Regulation," "Feed Regulators," and "Videos."

    FDA Continues Work to Harmonize Inspection Priority List

    With shrinking federal budgets and new authorities under the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to work on methods to create efficiencies in their inspection programs. Their work is also expected to generate greater coordination and information transfers between FDA and their cooperators throughout the U.S.

    Specifically, a pilot project has been developed by FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Minneapolis District Office and the States of Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. These cooperators are reviewing processes aimed at harmonizing and establishing inspection priority lists that help identify high-risk feed manufacturing facilities for inspections and frequency of inspections.

    The cooperators identified a list of site-specific risk factors. Those risk factors are used to review and prioritize a list of feed manufacturers. The list will contain high, and non-high risk feed facilities. After the list is developed, the States and District Office will meet to prepare a risk-based work plan for inspecting the listed facilities.

    The first inspection phase began last year with 18 site-specific risk factors used to categorize high risk and non-high risk feed manufacturing facilities. Earlier in this year, FDA officials reduced the number of risk factors in half, to nine factors. FDA now gives greater weight to risk factors that impact risks to animal and human health.

    The pilot program is in its second phase and, if successful, the program could be made available in other regions of the U.S. at the beginning of 2014.

    July
    August 2, 2014

    Farm Bill Awaiting Conference – Uncertainty Remains on Nutrition Programs

    On July 11th, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives brought forward a farm program only version of the Farm Bill for consideration. The controversial move to split nutrition programs away from the rest of the bill was seen by House leadership as the most likely way to advance farm legislation after the comprehensive bill including nutrition programs was rejected by the House on June 20th. Since that defeat, a number of options were considered, but Republicans settled on stripping the bill of nutrition programs as a way to gain enough support to pass the bill. In addition to dropping nutrition programs, the new version also repeals permanent farm legislation from 1938 and 1949, which have long provided Congress with incentives to pass and/or extend previous Farm Bills. In the end, the House bill prevailed by a strictly partisan vote of 216 to 208. No Democrats voted for the legislation and 12 Republicans broke ranks in opposition. Eleven members of the House did not vote. President Obama has issued a veto statement in opposition of the House bill. The full text of the House bill, along with a summary, can be found on the House Rules Committee website.

    House passage of the bill sets up an interesting conference with the Senate, which passed its version of the Farm Bill (including nutrition programs) with bipartisan support in June. The Senate has completed the procedural requirements to move forward with a conference, but the House has not taken action. House leadership has indicated an interest in resolving the question of how to handle nutrition programs before going to a formal conference. Republicans are considering the development of a separate bill to address nutrition programs and have created working group to examine options for moving forward. One of the more controversial plans currently being discussed by this group is the increase of nutrition cuts from the $20 billion included in the original bill to more than double that in a new version. While this would ensure additional votes from the Republican side of the isle, it would also ensure no Democrat support for the measure. One of the more contentious issues from the initial consideration is an amendment authorizing pilot programs to strengthen work requirements for food stamp recipients. Some House Democrats have indicated that they would support the $20 billion in cuts originally included in the House Farm Bill if the work provision was stripped. They see that as a way to get the conference process moving more quickly. As it stands, it appears the earliest that conferees would be named is September, although informal pre-conference discussions are expected during August.

    ARS Administrator Ed Knipling Announces Retirement

    In July 2013, Dr. Ed Knipling announced that he would be retiring from the Agricultural Research Service in early September. Dr. Knipling has served as Administrator of the ARS for the past ten years and his total service to the agency spans over 46 years. During his time with the agency he has been a great advocate for agricultural science and has made significant contributions both as a researcher and administrator. No announcements have been made as to the process and timing regarding the search for a new Administrator.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA and ASAS in Indianapolis. Lowell and Walt met with the ADSA and ASAS Boards of Directors to discuss the FASS Science Policy Program as well as the latest developments in Washington, DC. Lowell and Walt also addressed participants in the ASAS Business Meeting and spent time in the FASS Booth talking with society members.

    FASS Signs Letter in Support of New Farm Animal Agriculture Integrated Research Initiative

    FASS joined 46 other animal and commodity organizations in signing a letter to the House and Senate Chairman and Ranking Members of Agriculture Committees asking for their support to include the Farm Animal Agriculture Integrated Research Initiative (FAAIR) in the final version of the 2013 Farm Bill. This Initiative, which has been original included in the Senate version of the bill, is based specifically from the outcomes identified as research priorities during the Farm Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) process conducted last year. While timing for a final version of the Farm Bill is still in question, this letter proved strong support for the inclusion of this provision in the final legislation.

    June
    July 1, 2013

    FY 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill Advances in House

    On Thursday, June 13th, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill by a voice vote. The bill would provide $19.5 billion in discretionary funding, which is $1.3 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and approximately equal to the current level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts. Under the committee passed bill, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would be funded at a level of $1.074 billion. For the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the bill provides $236 million for the Hatch Act and $290 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Smith Lever 3(b) and (c) programs would receive $294 million. All of these numbers are the same as the enacted level of funding provided in FY 2013. However, it is important to note that the actual funding for programs FY 2013 was considerably less than the enacted amount due to sequestration and an across the board rescission. A full copy of the House version can be found by clicking here. The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor after Congress returns from the July 4th break.

    Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On Thursday, June 20th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The overall funding provided in the bill for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is $996.74 million, just over $43 million more than was provided by the companion House bill passed earlier this month. Under the committee passed bill, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would be funded at a level of $1.123 billion. For the NIFA the bill provides $243 million for the Hatch Act ($5 million more than the House version) and $316.4 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), an increase of $40 million from the current year. Smith Lever 3(b) and (c) programs would receive $300 million. All of these numbers are increases to the previous year’s enacted levels and higher than those proposed in the House version of the bill. It is anticipated the Senate will consider the Agriculture Appropriations bill on the Senate floor in the near future.

    Farm Bill Passes Senate, Defeated in the House

    During the week of June 17th, the House of Representatives took up H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM Act). Over 100 amendments were up for consideration during the debate which culminated in a vote on final passage on June 20th. The House version of the Farm Bill failed upon consideration by a vote of 195-234.

    Defections from Republicans seeking further cuts to spending in the bill and Democrats who opposed the cuts to nutrition programs included in the legislation made passage impossible in the end despite a push of support from House Republican Leadership. The carefully crafted bipartisan bill looked poised for passage until just before the final vote when an amendment, which mandated work requirements of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, was passed on a largely partisan vote. This amendment to the program formerly known as “food stamps,” coupled with a handful of other amendments which peeled away supporters, spelled the death knell for the legislation upon the final vote.

    Prospects for the bill are unclear at this point with the possibility of a complete rewrite being considered. Congress must address the expiration of all programs authorized in the Farm Bill before September 30, 2013 when the statutory authority for these programs expires. There is some talk that the House may take up a more partisan version of the bill for consideration in order to gain enough Republican votes for passage. This would enable the bill to get off the House floor and into a conference committee. Another option which is being considered by House Republican Leadership is to split the bill into two separate and distinct bills with the focus of one being farm programs and traditional agriculture areas such as research and the other focused on nutrition programs. Committee Leadership has voiced their opposition to this strategy as they see it as even harder to strike deals which Senate Democrats should this concept be pursued.

    In contrast to the consideration of the Farm Bill in the House, the Senate passed S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (the Senate version of the Farm Bill), by a margin of 69 – 27. Included in the Senate bill is authorization for a new competitive grants program focused on animal science. More information about the Senate passed version of the Farm Bill, including a summary and detailed text, can be found by clicking here.

    While the Senate passed the Farm Bill with a wide bipartisan margin, its opposition by urban Democrats over cuts to nutrition programs and conservative Republicans, provided a glimpse at what was to come in the House. Conservatives in both chambers were pressured by groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth to oppose the Farm Bill because they believe its’ costs remained too high and did not go far enough in reforming nutrition programs. Liberals were pressured to oppose the House version of the bill because it produced over $20 billion in savings from nutrition programs alone.

    FASS Sponsors Annual Symposium in Washington

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Animal Drugs held its annual symposium in Washington, DC on June 4th. Topics addressed in this year’s symposium include antibiotics, implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, agricultural research policy and the Farm Bill. Speakers included representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, industry and academia. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith worked closely with the committee to identify topics and secure speakers for the event. Thanks to the American Society of Animal Science for its financial sponsorship of the 2013 symposium. Copies of the presentations given at the symposium can be found on the FASS website by clicking here.

    FASS Washington Representatives to Participate in JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith will participate in the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA and ASAS in Indianapolis. Lowell and Walt will meet with the ADSA and ASAS Boards of Directors as well as spend time in the FASS Booth.

    May
    May 31, 2013

    Senate and House Agriculture Committees Advance Farm Bill

    On Tuesday, May 14th, the Senate Agriculture Committee met to consider its version of the Farm Bill, S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013. The Senate Farm Bill is very similar to the package that was passed by the Senate in 2012. The text of the bill, along with a summary can be found on the Senate Agriculture Committee website.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill would save over $23 billion. Much of the savings comes from revisions to commodity programs, consolidating programs and addressing fraud in nutrition programs. The committee approved the bill by a margin of 15-5. Republicans opposing the bill were mainly from the Midwest and expressed concerns about the direction of the commodity title. The lone Democrat voting against the bill was Senator Gillibrand (D-NY), who is opposed to the $4 billion in savings achieved by the changes to nutrition programs.

    The Research Title of the Senate Farm Bill reauthorizes USDA’s major research, extension and education programs including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). As passed last year, the Senate bill also includes authorization for a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which would create a non-governmental foundation as a new mechanism to support agriculture research. The bill provides $100 million in mandatory funding to seed the foundation. The Senate bill also includes budget submission language that would require USDA to provide details of competitive grant program priorities and requests for proposals each year.

    Specific to animal science, the Senate bill includes authority for a new Farm Animal Agriculture Integrated Research Initiative. This new initiative, developed and promoted by the National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science, would establish a competitive grants program to address the three priority focal areas identified by the FAIR 2012 priority setting process. Emphasis would be placed on food security, one health and stewardship. The bill includes an authorization of $50 million per year that would be subject to funding through the annual appropriations process. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) both filed an amendment to include the initiative in the Senate Farm Bill. The amendment was included in the manager’s package of en bloc amendments and approved by voice vote.

    Floor consideration of the Farm Bill in the Senate began the week of May 20th and is scheduled to resume June 3rd after the Memorial Day recess. Almost 200 amendments have been filed, with the most hotly debated amendments thus far dealing with nutrition programs and crop insurance.

    The House Agriculture Committee followed suit by considering its version of the Farm Bill, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 on Wednesday, May 15th. CBO estimates that the House bill would save nearly $40 billion, with savings coming from revisions to nutrition and commodity programs as well as consolidation of some conservation programs. The committee approved the bill by a margin of 36 – 10. The biggest controversies surround changes to nutrition programs, which would save over $20 billion. The text of the bill and summaries can be found on the House Agriculture Committee website.

    The Research Title of the House bill includes many of the same reauthorizations of core USDA programs, along with budget submission requirements. The House bill does not include authorization for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research or the new animal science initiative. The House is expected to conduct floor consideration of the Farm Bill in June.

    USDA Issues Final Rule on COOL

    On May 23rd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program. The final rule modifies the labeling provisions for muscle cut covered commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. The changes were driven by the desire to bring the program into compliance with World Trade Organization requirements. The USDA release was met with mixed reactions. Officials from Canada and Mexico stated that the new rule does not go far enough to meet WTO obligations. Some U.S. organizations have expressed support for the new rule, while others complain that it will only make labeling more complicated and costly. More information on country of origin labeling can be found by clicking here.

    FASS Sponsors Annual Symposium in Washington

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Animal Drugs will host its annual symposium in Washington, DC on June 4th. Topics to be addressed in this year’s symposium include antibiotics, implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, agricultural research policy and the Farm Bill. Speakers will include representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, industry and academia. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith worked closely with the committee to identify topics and secure speakers for the event. More information on the symposium can be found on the FASS website.

    ASAS Zimbleman/Hafs Interns Begin Summer Internships

    The ASAS Zimbleman/Hafs Internship Program is supporting two students in Washington, DC this summer. Jordan Hieber, an animal science major from North Dakota State University will be interning in the Office of Communications at the United States Department of Agriculture. Jessie Nickerson, a Master’s Degree student at West Virginia University, will be interning in the office of Congressman Chris Gibson, a member of the House Agriculture Committee from Jessie’s home state of New York. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith assisted Jordan and Jessie with their internship placements and will provide support to the interns during their time in Washington.

    April
    May 2, 2013

    Farm Bill Update

    Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are making preparations to advance their respective versions of the Farm Bill in May. Chairwoman Stabenow has indicated that she would like the Senate Agriculture Committee to mark-up the Farm Bill as early as the week of May 6th. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has scheduled committee consideration of the Farm Bill for May 15th. Both committees have placed a high priority on completing committee action on the Farm Bill prior to Memorial Day.

    President Obama Releases FY 2014 Budget Request

    On Wednesday, April 10th, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. The budget release was delayed over two months due to the fiscal cliff and sequestration debates that occurred earlier in the year.

    United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

    A copy of the USDA Budget Summary can be found by clicking here. For the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the total budget authority for FY 2014 is proposed to be $146 billion, which includes $123 billion in mandatory budget authority, for things such as nutrition and commodity programs, and $23 billion in discretionary budget authority, which is the primary source of funds for programs such as research. The proposed budget authority for USDA’s Research, Education and Economics agency’s (NIFA, ARS, ERS and NASS) is $2.8 billion. This comprises about 12 percent of USDA’s discretionary budget, but less than two percent of USDA’s overall budget authority.

    When looking specifically at the proposals for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) there is good news for agriculture research. The NIFA budget includes a significant increase in funds for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) from $297 million in FY 2013 (actually $266 million when you account for sequestration and rescissions). Other core NIFA programs such as the Hatch Act and Smith Lever Act would be funded at FY 2012 levels of $236 million and $294 million respectively.

    The President’s budget also proposes additional funds for ARS, with $1.124 billion proposed for salaries and expenses. This is up from $1.1 billion (minus sequestration and rescissions) in FY 2013, but the proportion of funding for livestock is only 14 percent of the total. Within these funds Livestock Production would receive $73 million (down from $77 million in FY 2013) and Livestock Protection would receive $63 million (up from $60 million in FY 2013). A bright note for the animal sciences in the ARS budget is $155 million to fully fund the construction of a new Southeast Poultry Disease Research Laboratory in Athens, GA.

    In response to the release of the President’s budget, ASAS joined FASS and other members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition in requesting support for agriculture research and other programs important to animal agriculture including the significant increase proposed to AFRI and funding for the new poultry research facility.

    House Agriculture Appropriations Hearing

    With the release of the President’s budget, the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees have now begun their process for fiscal year 2014. The House committee scheduled a series of hearings for the week of April 15th, including a hearing on USDA’s Research, Education and Economics agencies on Wednesday, April 17th.

    At the April 17th hearing, Dr. Catherine Woteki, Undersecretary for REE, along with the administrators from ARS, NIFA, ERS and NASS provided testimony to the committee highlighting major initiatives included in the 2014 budget. Full copies of witness testimony and Chairman Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) opening statement can be found on the subcommittee website by clicking here.

    Members of the subcommittee asked a number of questions related to the proposed budget request. Chairman Aderholt asked Dr. Woteki to list the top five research initiatives conducted by USDA. Dr. Woteki responded that the new REE Action Plan was helping prioritize research projects. She stated that a report is currently in departmental clearance and should be available within the next month that will identify food security, improving food safety, nutrition (including obesity), biofuels and adaptation / mitigation for climate change as high priority areas for research.

    Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) asked about the impact of sequestration on REE programs. Dr. Ramaswamy described the impacts to NIFA. He stated that approximately 100 new grant proposals will not be funded as a result of sequestration and that competition will be keener for available grants. In addition, $130 million in specialty crop initiatives will be lost.

    Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) questioned why AFRI funding warrants such a significant increase while many other programs are flat funded or face reductions. Dr. Ramaswamy answered by stating there is a strong need to increase funding for competitive grant programs and stem the loss of capacity in research that has occurred. He also remarked that AFRI increases will be important to continue supporting minority serving institutions.

    Finally, specific to animal agriculture, Congresswoman Pingree (D-ME) cited the September 2011 GAO Report on Antibiotic Resistance in Livestock and asked what research was being conducted to combat resistance. Dr Woteki responded that their focus was on future uses for anti-microbial tools and methodologies. Examples include: carcass and hide rinses to reduce foodborne pathogens, developing a fundamental understanding about the transfer of pathogens; pre/pro biotics that promote growth but substitute for antibiotics and microbiome approaches to help better understand the breakdown of feedstuffs in the rumen. Woteki went on to state that NIFA has $5 million allocated in FY 2014 budget for efforts in the anti-microbial area, specifically on where microbes enter and how they transfer throughout a biological system.

    National Science Foundation (NSF)

    The President’s FY 2014 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides a total of $7.6 billion, which is approximately $600 million more than the FY 2012 enacted level. This total includes $6.2 billion for research and related activities.

    The proposed NSF budget estimates that the agency will receive a total of 53,200 competitive proposals in FY 2014. Of these proposals, NSF is projecting 12,600 awards, reflecting a 24 percent funding rate, which is slightly higher than the funding rate of 21 percent expected in FY 2013. A full summary of the NSF budget can be found here.

    National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    The President’s FY 2014 budget request for the National Institutes of Health provides a total of 31.3 billion, which is $471 million over the FY 2012 enacted level. The proposed budget estimates that NIH will award approximately 10,269 awards in FY 2014 at and average of $456,000 per award. NIH anticipates a funding success rate of 19 percent in FY 2014, which is similar to the 18 percent success rate in FY 2012.

    The NIH budget proposes to focus on the following priorities: Investing in Today’s Basic Research for Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs, Advancing Translational Sciences, Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Scientific Talent and Creativity, HIV/AIDS and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. An overview of the NIH budget can be found here.

    ASAS Provides Congressional Briefing

    The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), in partnership with the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS) provided a briefing to Congressional staff on April 22nd regarding how biofuel production affects food prices and animal feedstuffs. The briefing highlighted key issues from the April edition of Animal Frontiers which focused on research related to biofuels. Experts participating in the briefing were Dr. Galen Erickson, an animal scientist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Dr. Wally Tyner, an agricultural economist from Purdue University; and Dr. Sylvie Brouder, an agronomist from Purdue University. In addition to a briefing in the House Agriculture Committee, the group also met with staff from the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This was the first of a series of Congressional briefings sponsored by ASAS that will coincide with the release of Animal Frontiers. The next briefing will be in the summer and cover food security.

    FASS Sponsors Webinar on GE Labeling

    The FASS Science Policy Committee offered a webinar on April 25th regarding labeling of genetically engineered (GE) products. GE labeling continues to be a hot topic for policy makers in Washington. GE labeling legislation was introduced in Congress the same day as the FASS webinar. Many states are also considering GE labeling requirements. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California – Davis and Dr. Bruce Chassy from the University of Illinois discussed the scientific literature associated with the food safety of GE plants and animals and discuss whether the data supports the need for process-based labeling of GE food. Over 80 representatives from government, industry and academia participated in the webinar. A full recording of the webinar can be found on the FASS website.

    March
    April 5, 2013

    Farm Bill Update

    FASS representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith met with a number of Members of Congress and staff from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees during the week of March 4th. Given the struggles to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill last year, there is a desire from both the House and Senate to move a Farm Bill through committee as soon as possible this year. However, the uncertainty surrounding the budget and debt ceiling is complicating the timing. It appears that the House Agriculture Committee will wait to see how all of the budget and debt ceiling issues play out before moving a bill in committee. The next debt ceiling limit is expected to be reached in May (although it could be extended to sometime in the summer), so the Farm Bill won't likely move in the House until sometime in the summer.

    In the Senate, while Chairwoman Stabenow has reintroduced her version of the Farm Bill from last year, they are also facing some complications with moving forward. Senator Cochran (R-MS) assumed the Ranking Member position on the committee in January and is still working to complete his staffing changes. It is expected that he will want to put his stamp on the bill. He has expressed concerns that the version last year put southern crops at a disadvantage.

    A factor that will influence both the House and Senate is the newest CBO scoring of the two Farm Bill proposals from last year. The new score has significantly reduced the estimated savings that would come from the Senate passed version last year. The House bill is impacted less by the new scoring, but it still means that both the House and Senate will have to make adjustments to achieve the same level of savings that were calculated last year.

    Finally, FASS joined members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition in sending a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees regarding provisions important to animal agriculture in the Farm Bill. The letter requests support for many research related provisions that were included in the House and Senate versions of the bill last year, along with some animal agriculture related provisions in other areas of the bill.

    Budget/Appropriations Update

    During the week of March 18th, the House and Senate came to agreement on funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. The Senate passed a continuing resolution on March 20th, which included a new version of the agriculture appropriations bill. The House followed suit by passing the bill on March 21st and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. The major changes in research funding between fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2013 are in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which received an increase of more than $33 million and the Agriculture Research Service which received an increase of $7 million. It is important to note that these numbers do not reflect the spending reductions required by the sequestration, which are approximately five percent for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Funding for USDA programs is also subject to a 2.513 percent rescission.

    Below are some key funding levels included continuing resolution along with fiscal year 2012 funding for comparison:

    FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations – Selected Accounts

    (Totals do not reflect reductions due to sequestration or the 2.5% rescission)

    PROGRAM
    FY 2012
    FY 2013
    Hatch Act
    236,334,000
    236,334,000
    Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
    264,470,000
    297,956,000
    Smith-Lever, Section 3(b) and (c) programs
    294,000,000
    294,000,000
    Integrated Activities
    21,482,000
    21,482,000
    Agriculture Research Service – Salaries and Expenses
    1,094,647,000
    1,101,853,000

    Also included in the continuing resolution is an additional $55 million for the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) intended to avoid potential furloughs of FSIS inspectors. The additional funding for FSIS comes from transfers from existing USDA accounts. The issue of FSIS furloughs created widespread controversy and political pressure to keep inspectors in the field. The economic impact of the threatened furloughs had been estimated to be as high as $10 billion.

    Regarding fiscal year 2014, the President’s budget, which is normally released in early February, continues to be delayed. The latest indication is that the President’s budget may be released on April 8th. In preparation for the FY 2014 process, some groups are beginning to circulate letters of support for agriculture research. For example, the Friends of the Agriculture Research Service (FARS) sent a letter to Congress the last week in March. FASS and each of the founding societies signed the letter supporting the overall ARS budget.

    NAS Study on Animal Science

    The National Academies of Science (NAS) is continuing its preparations for a consensus study on animal science. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel recently participated in a conference call with representatives from USDA and NAS regarding the status of the study. The major focus right now is on fundraising and NAS and USDA have been in contact with prominent foundations and industry about potential interest in contributing to the study. The goal is to utilize the results from the study to support a budget initiative for the animal sciences. Depending on how quickly the study progresses, the budget initiative may be ready for the fiscal year 2015 budget.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Meets in DC

    Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee met in Washington, DC on March 4-5, 2013. The committee met with a number of key agencies during the trip including USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Cathy Woteki regarding the National Academies of Science study on animal science, the recent PCAST report on agriculture preparedness and FAIR 2012. Representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) met with the committee to discuss antibiotics policies and the committee visited the National Science Foundation (NSF) to discuss FAIR 2012, PCAST and funding opportunities for the animal sciences. The committee also met with the new agriculture advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to explore opportunities for partnering and sharing information. The also met with Senate Agriculture Committee staff to get the latest information on the Farm Bill. The trip also provided the committee the opportunity to develop strategies for the remainder of 2013.

    FASS Washington Representatives Provide Report to FASS Board

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith gave a presentation to the FASS Board during its meeting on March 15th. Lowell and Walt updated the Board on the latest developments on the Farm Bill, appropriations, and FASS Science Policy activities.

    FASS Sponsors Webinar on Climate Change

    The FASS Science Policy Committee presented a webinar on March 19th addressing climate change. Dr. Sara Place from Oklahoma State University discussed the effect climate change has on animal production and Dr. Judith Capper discussed the effect animal production has on the environment. Over 120 representatives from academia, industry and government participated in the webinar. An archive of the webinar is being prepared and will be posted on the FASS website.

    FASS Offering Webinar on GE Labeling

    The FASS Science Policy Committee will offer a webinar on April 25th regarding labeling of genetically engineered (GE) products. GE labeling continues to be a hot topic for policy makers in Washington and there are also many states considering GE labeling requirements. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California – Davis and Dr. Bruce Chassy from the University of Illinois will examine the scientific literature associated with the food safety of GE plants and animals and discuss whether the data supports the need for process-based labeling of GE food.

    February
    March 1, 2013

    Sequestration Deadline Looms

    Federal agencies are making preparations for how to address across the board cuts that would come in the event that Congress and the Administration cannot reach agreement on how to deal with the impending budget sequestration. If an agreement is not reached by March 1st, agencies will be forced to make cuts to all non-exempt programs. Specific programs which have been referenced by USDA include meat, poultry and egg inspections by the Food Safety Inspection Service and farm programs. Agricultural research is not exempt from the sequestration and the resulting cuts would require approximately 10 percent reductions for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. Sequestration will hit other research agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), which sent a notice out to university leaders on February 28th . A copy of the NSF announcement can be found here: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/in133/in133.pdf

    FASS Signs Letters Supporting FDA Science-Based Process

    In late December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its long awaited environmental assessment for the application to approve genetically engineered salmon. Along with the environmental assessment, FDA issued a finding of no significant impact. FASS and the founding societies have cosigned a letter led by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in support of FDA’s science-based process. While not taking a position on the application in question, the letter supports FDA’s science based process for evaluating applications for GE products and encourages FDA to move forward with the process in a timely way. Consumer groups are strongly criticizing FDA’s draft findings, which if finalized would pave the way for approval of GE salmon.

    FASS and Founding Societies Sign Thank You Letter for Ad Supporting Farmers

    FASS and the founding societies joined a broad group of agriculture related organizations in sending a letter to Chrysler Corporation thanking the company for airing the Super Bowl ad entitled “So God Made a Farmer”. The commercial supports a very positive image of the American farmer and highlights the importance of agriculture. The commercial features audio from an address that Paul Harvey gave to an FFA Convention in 1978. Dodge Ram has declared 2013 the “Year of the Farmer” and is working to raise $1 million to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs.

    FASS and Founding Societies Join AAC Letter on Farm Bill

    FASS and the founding societies joined members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition in sending a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees regarding farm bill programs important to animal agriculture. The letter details specific provisions of interest, including recommendations based on the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill that were considered last year. The majority of the programs supported in the letter are related to agricultural research.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in Board Meetings

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the ASAS and ADSA Board meetings in Orlando in early February. Lowell provided the boards an update on FASS Science Policy activities and key policy issues being debated in Washington. Lowell Randel and Walt Smith also participated in the annual Animal Science Department Heads Meeting in Tampa to discuss FASS Science Policy.

    FASS Science Policy Committee to Meet in DC

    Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee are planning to meet in Washington, DC on March 4-5, 2013. The committee will meet with agency representatives from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The group will also meet with Senate Agriculture Committee staff to discuss the Farm Bill. The trip will also provide the committee the opportunity to discuss strategies for the remainder of 2013.

    FASS Cosponsors Webinar with C-FARE

    FASS and the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE) sponsored a webinar on “pink slime” on February 15th. Chad Carr from the University of Florida represented FASS and discussed the science and safety of lean finely textured beef, commonly known as pink slime. J. Ross Pruitt from Louisiana State University addessed the LFTB’s impact in the beef and cattle markets, including discussion on reaction to stories on LFTB by the beef industry and USDA. Over 60 representatives from academia, industry, Congress and federal agencies participated in the webinar. The full webinar can be accessed on the FASS website at: http://www.fass.org/policy_webinar.asp

    FASS Sponsoring Webinar on Climate Change

    The FASS Science Policy Committee has organized a webinar that will address the impacts of climate change on animal production, as well as animal production’s impact on climate change. The webinar will take place on March 19th at 2pm eastern. More information can be found in the notice below:

    Climate Change and Animal Production Webinar
    March 19, 2:00 PM EDT

    Scientific evidence strongly suggests that climate change is occurring and has the potential to affect global food security. Production animal agriculture is both affected by climate change and variability, and a contributor to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The first part of the webinar will discuss the current effects, adaptation strategies, and future needs for adapting animal production systems to climatic change and variability. The second part of the webinar will discuss the GHG emission sources and GHG emission mitigation strategies for animal production systems, followed by a question and answer session.

    Register for the webinar now!

    "The Effect Climate Change Has On Animal Production"

    Dr. Sara Place
    Assistant Professor
    Sustainable Beef Cattle Systems
    Department of Animal Science
    Oklahoma State University

    "The Effect Animal Production Has On The Climate"

    Dr. Judith Capper
    Livestock Sustainability Consultant
    Adjunct Professor
    Washington State University

    January
    February 1, 2013

    Fiscal Cliff and the Farm Bill

    Leaders from Congress and the White House reached an 11th hour agreement to avert (or at least postpone) the so-called fiscal cliff over the New Year’s holiday. While the fiscal cliff was averted, the fate of spending cuts was not addressed in the deal. Congress and the White House agreed to postpone the issue of spending cuts for another two months, setting up another “fiscal cliff” that will need to be addressed. This leads to continued uncertainty for the funding that will be made available for agricultural research in 2013 and future budget years.

    Included in the recently agreed-to fiscal cliff package is an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through the end of the 2013 fiscal year. The nine month extension was a disappointment for many farm state lawmakers who had hoped that a comprehensive rewrite of the Farm Bill could be attached to the legislation. However, when it became clear that a broader Farm Bill package would not be possible, leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees acquiesced to the extension. Fears over what was dubbed the “dairy cliff” and the potential for $8 gallon milk helped spur the need for immediate action.

    Committee leaders have indicated their interest in moving quickly in 2013 on a full five year Farm Bill. One of the issues driving quick action is the new budget baseline that will be released in March. The new baseline could mean that additional cuts to Farm Bill programs would be necessary to achieve the same level of savings contained in the House and Senate versions of the bill that were considered in 2012.

    While there is desire to move a new Farm Bill early in 2013, recent changes in the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee may slow consideration in that chamber. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi exerted his seniority on the committee and took the Ranking Member position from Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, thus making him the highest ranking Republican on the Committee. Cochran and other Southern senators were unhappy with the Senate version passed in 2012 and it is expected that as Ranking Member, Cochran will work to make changes to the commodity provisions. It is also expected that Cochran will make some changes to the Agriculture Committee staff. These factors are likely to slow down the process in the Senate.

    Appropriations Update

    Appropriations for fiscal year 2013 are operating under a continuing resolution through the end of March 2013. This continuing resolution (CR) provides level funding for federal expenditures. House and Senate Appropriations Committees had been preparing for an omnibus spending package at the end of December, but the measure was never brought forward because of the fiscal cliff situation. It is unclear if the committees will be able to advance an omnibus bill that would cover the remainder of fiscal year 2013, or if the CR will be extended through the end of the fiscal year. Uncertainty over the fate of 2013 funding has led agencies such as NIFA to be very cautious in the expenditure of funds until a final spending package is approved.

    The fiscal year 2014 budget is also being impacted by the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff. President Obama has announced that the release of his 2014 budget proposal will be delayed and not likely released until sometime in March. Agencies finally received their “pass backs”, (internal budget reviews) which form the basis of the President’s budget during the week of January 28th. These are normally received around Thanksgiving, further indicating the delayed timeline.

    FDA Releases Environmental Assessment of GE Salmon

    In late December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its long awaited environmental assessment for the application to approve genetically engineered salmon. Along with the environmental assessment, FDA issued a finding of no significant impact. The documents are currently open for public comment. Consumer groups are strongly criticizing FDA’s draft findings, which if finalized would pave the way for approval of GE salmon. While not taking a position on the application in question, FASS has joined with like-minded groups in support of FDA’s science based process for evaluating applications for GE products.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in Board Meetings

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel will be attending the ASAS and ADSA Board meetings in Orlando in early February. Lowell will provide the boards an update on FASS Science Policy activities and key policy issues being debated in Washington. Lowell Randel and Walt Smith will also participate in the annual Animal Science Department Heads Meeting in Tampa to discuss FASS Science Policy.

    FASS Science Policy Committee to Meet in DC

    Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee are planning to meet in Washington, DC on March 4-5, 2013. The committee will meet with key agency representatives, Congressional staff and industry organizations. The trip will also provide the committee the opportunity to discuss strategies for the remainder of 2013.

    FASS Cosponsors Webinar with C-FARE

    FASS Washington Representatives are working with the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE) to sponsor a webinar on “pink slime”. The webinar is scheduled to take place on February 15th. Chad Carr from the University of Florida will represent FASS and discuss the science and safety of lean finely textured beef, commonly known as pink slime. FASS Washington Representatives have distributed the webinar announcement to the Animal Agriculture Coalition and other key stakeholders in Washington. The full webinar announcement is attached to this report.

    2012

    December
    January 2, 2013

    FASS Joins Letter Urging Support for AFRI

    The Federation of Animal Science Societies and over 20 other agriculture and science related organizations sent a letter to President Obama and leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate urging an agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and across the board spending cuts. The letter comes as the White House and Congress continue negotiations to resolve the “fiscal cliff” and the resulting sequestration that would kick at the beginning of January 2013. Should sequestration take place, discretionary science programs such as the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) will face significant cuts. The letter goes on to describe some success stories from the AFRI program and the negative impacts sequestration would have on agricultural research.

    President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Release Report on Agricultural Preparedness

    On Friday, December 7th, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on Agricultural Preparedness and the Agriculture Research Enterprise. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the White House release event that was led by John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. FASS has been closely tracking the progress of this report as it has been developed by PCAST. The report was announced earlier this year and FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel made public comments in support of agricultural research and the animal sciences to PCAST in March 2012. In his comments, Lowell also described the FAIR 2012 process and copies of the final FAIR 2012 report were delivered to PCAST as it was drafting the report on agricultural preparedness.

    The PCAST report recognizes the importance of federal investment in agriculture research and offers a number of recommendations to strengthen the nation’s agriculture research system. Recommendations include:

    • Expand the role of competition in agricultural research funding:
      • Expand the use of competition in allocation of research funding within intramural and extramural programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
      • Increase the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget for basic science relevant to agriculture from $120 million to $250 million per year.
      • Increase the USDA budget for competitive funding of extramural research from $265 million to $500 million per year, consistent with the 2008 congressional authorization.
    • Greatly expand a competitively awarded fellowship program for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers at a level of $180 million per year with at least 5-year funding.
    • Expand the USDA program of competitive awards for new infrastructure investments for agricultural research with an emphasis on specialization and consolidation to avoid redundancies.
    • Create six large, multidisciplinary innovation institutes focused on emerging challenges to agriculture, supported by public-private partnerships at an initial new Federal investment of $150 million per year to create six institutes at a funding level of $25 million per year for no less than 5 years.
    • Conduct an internal review of Federal regulatory policy for agriculture to promote regulatory clarity, consistent with Executive Order 13563, as well as the Presidential Memorandum on technology transfer from the national laboratories to the marketplace.
    • Establish an implementation committee to act on these recommendations. Create a permanent, independent science advisory committee to advise the Chief Scientist of the USDA.

    The recommended increase to the overall investment is welcome news to the agriculture research community and presents an additional opportunity to share the results of FAIR 2012 with policy makers as they consider implementing components of the PCAST report. However, full implementation of the recommendations could prove challenging given the uncertain budget situation and the impending “fiscal cliff”. A full copy of the report can be found on the PCAST website along with a press release.

    FASS Washington Representative Attends U.S. Chamber Event on Agriculture Innovation

    On December 19th the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted an event titled Agriculture: Growing Innovation and Opportunities as a part of its Business Horizon Series. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the meeting. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at the event and stressed the importance of science and technology for the future of agriculture. Secretary Vilsack also commented on the Farm Bill and indicated that it unlikely that a Farm Bill will be completed in 2012.

    Speakers from production agriculture, industry and the federal government addressed issues such as meeting the growing global demand for food and which sectors in agriculture were growing the most quickly. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Darci Vetter cited increased demands for meat and dairy products as incomes continue to rise in the developing world. Luncheon keynote speaker Gregory Page from Cargill also talked about the importance of animal agriculture and cited the recent PCAST report on agriculture in calling for increased investments in agricultural research.

    More information about the event, including a link to Secretary Vilsack’s remarks can be found by clicking here.

    Farm Bill Update

    The Farm Bill continues to be stalled as leaders from the White House and Congress wrangle over the “fiscal cliff”. One of the paths for the Farm Bill would be to attach it to the deal that would avoid the fiscal cliff. Both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill provide significant savings, making this an attractive option for some in Congress. However, House Speaker Boehner made some public comments in late December that he was hesitant to include the Farm Bill in a fiscal cliff package. With this news, there was some speculation that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees would start the drafting process over again early next year with the target of completing a new Farm Bill before a new budget baseline is announced sometime in March 2013. The timing would be important because changes to the budget baseline in March could result in the committees needing to make additional cuts to save the same amount of money as in the current proposals. There still remains the possibility of an extension of the 2008 bill for some period of time, perhaps a year, although some members of Congress are strongly opposed to an extension.

    November
    December 4, 2012

    Election Impacts on Agriculture Committees

    The November elections, along with retirements, will mean some new faces to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. While replacements for the slots open in the agriculture committees have not yet been announced, we do know the following agriculture committee members will not be in office in 2013:

    House of Representatives
    Senate
    Joe Baca (D-CA)
    Kent Conrad (D-ND)
    Len Boswell (D-IA)
    Dick Lugar (R-IN)
    Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)
    Ben Nelson (D-NE)
    Tim Holden (D-PA)
     
    Tim Johnson (R-IL)
     
    Larry Kissell (D-NC)
     
    Bobby Schilling (R-IL)
     
    Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
     

    The leadership of the House Agriculture Committee is not expected to change, as Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) has been chosen by the House Republican Conference to remain as chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) is expected to stay on as Ranking Member. In the Senate, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is expected to retain the chair position, while there is some speculation that the Republican ranking member may change. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is currently the ranking member, but Thad Cochran (R-MS) has expressed interest in taking over the position. Cochran currently serves as the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, but will have held that post for six years at the end of this Congress. Senate Republican Rules limit the amount of time a Senator can spend as chair or ranking member of a given committee. Cochran outranks Roberts in seniority and has served as the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee in the past.

    The election will also bring changes to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees. In the Senate, current Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) is retiring, as are Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Nelson (D-NE). Replacements for these members have not been announced. In the House, none of the current agriculture subcommittee members were defeated or are retiring, but there could be some shuffling of subcommittee assignments for the beginning of the 113th Congress.

    Farm Bill Update

    Now that the 2012 elections have been completed the “lame duck” Congress has a long list of issues that need to be addressed before the end of the year. One of those items is the Farm Bill, which was allowed to expire at the end of September. It appears that the best chance for a five year bill to be passed this year is to incorporate it into the package that is being negotiated to avoid the “fiscal cliff”. There is recognition in both the House and Senate that including the Farm Bill would likely bring between $24 billion and $35 billion in savings that could be applied to meeting spending reductions. However, the prospects of reaching a grand bargain on the fiscal cliff are far from certain as Democrat and Republican leaders continue to posture on how much spending to cut and how tax revenue to raise.

    In an effort to spur more activity on the Farm Bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack brought the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committee together on November 29th. In addition, agriculture organizations in Washington continue to push for action on a comprehensive Farm Bill before the end of the year. FASS, along with 234 other agriculture organizations signed a letter to Congress urging passage of the Farm Bill. The letter does not get into any policy specifics, but warns of the significant uncertainty that will face the agriculture sector if action is not taken.

    ASAS Public Policy Committee Meets in DC

    On November 15th and 16th representatives from the American Society of Animal Science Public Policy Committee met in Washington, DC. FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel helped coordinate the schedule and arranged for meetings with a number of organizations in Washington. The group’s first stop was with the Animal Agriculture Coalition, which brings together animal commodity groups and other associations affiliated with animal agriculture and animal science. ASAS rolled out its recently completed Grand Challenges documents, along with a report on the Innovate 2012 Conference and recent editions of Animal Frontiers. Representatives from ASAS also met with associations and companies in the retail industry including the Agriculture Retailers Association, Food Marketing Institute, Wal-Mart and Cargill to share ASAS publications and resources and discuss ways how these organizations utilize animal science. A meeting was also held with Bernadette Dunham, Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine to discuss ASAS initiatives and learn more about emerging CVM policies.

    October
    November 6, 2012

    Farm Bill on Agenda in “Lame Duck”

    The 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30th, as members of Congress left town to campaign for the elections. Since then, House leaders have commented a number of times that the Farm Bill will be addressed in the lame duck session of Congress after the elections. Most recently, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stated “I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass (a bill).” At the same time, House leaders continue to express concern that there may not be enough votes to pass the bill that was approved by the House Agriculture Committee in July. This means that modifications to the committee bill may be made before a vote in the House is taken. This also leaves the door open for some type of extension of the 2008 Farm Bill that will give Congress additional time to reach agreement on a comprehensive bill.

    Some are speculating that the best chance for a comprehensive farm bill this year is for Congress to incorporate the Farm Bill into legislation designed to avoid the “fiscal cliff”. Both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill include significant savings, which could help Congress reach the savings needed to avoid sequestration. However, there is much uncertainty about whether Congress and the Administration will be able to reach agreement on a fiscal cliff package.

    FASS Prepares Letter in Support of NIH/USDA Dual Use Program

    Two years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed the Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit: Research in Biomedicine and Agriculture Using Agriculturally Important Domestic Species (R01) program. This program provides an important mechanism for NIH and NIFA to work together to support research on agriculturally important domestic species to improve human health through the advancement of basic and translational research deemed highly relevant to both agricultural and biomedical research. FASS believes that collaborative programs such as this can yield important scientific breakthroughs as well as build stronger interdisciplinary relationships between scientists.

    FASS Washington Representatives and the FASS Science Policy Committee have had several meetings with NIH and USDA representatives regarding the Dual Use program. The program was also the subject of a FASS webinar to provide FASS member scientists with information about how to participate. The initial two year grant cycle for this program is coming to an end, and FASS is preparing a letter to express support for its continuation.

    FASS Washington Representatives Help Coordinate ASAS Meetings in DC

    Representatives from the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) Public Policy Committee are planning to visit Washington, DC in mid-November to meet with government and industry representatives. ASAS is scheduled to address the Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC) and roll out a number of communications documents including editions of Animal Frontiers, results from Innovate 2012 and the ASAS Grand Challenges. Meetings are also planned with other key trade and industry associations and government agencies.

    September
    October 1, 2012

    Farm Bill Delayed Until After Election

    Farm groups made a hard push in September urging leaders in the House of Representatives to bring the House Agriculture Committee passed version of the Farm Bill to the floor for consideration. Hundreds of farmers and representatives from agricultural organizations held a Farm Bill Now rally on Capitol Hill highlighting the need for Congress to act on a comprehensive Farm Bill before current authorities expire on September 30th. At the same time, a bipartisan group of farm state legislators mounted their own campaign to persuade House Leadership to move Farm Bill legislation prior to Congress leaving town.

    Despite these efforts, House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader were both quoted on September 20th as saying that further consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill will not occur until after the November election. That means that current Farm Bill authorities will be allowed to lapse, at least for a number of weeks. Most agriculture programs will not be impacted immediately, as crop commodity programs operate on crop years, not fiscal years. The first major issue for crops would be dealing with the winter wheat crop.

    While crop farmers will be faced with uncertainty as they begin planning for next spring, there would still be time for Congress to act before crops are planted. However, in the dairy industry, the expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program is causing more immediate concern. The MILC program provides subsidies for dairy farmers when the price of milk drops below $16.94 per hundredweight.

    The prospects for Farm Bill action in the lame duck session are not entirely clear. While leaders of both the House and Senate acknowledge that the Farm Bill will be on the agenda, Speaker Boehner has been vague about whether he believes a new comprehensive 5 year Farm Bill is likely to be completed before the end of the year. This leaves the option of an extension of current farm programs on the table. The Congressional agenda for the lame duck will be crowded with other high profile issues including tax policies and the approaching “fiscal cliff”, so timing will be tight to finish work on a new 5 year Farm Bill.

    Congress Passes Continuing Resolution

    Shortly before leaving Washington, DC to go home to campaign, the House and Senate voted to approve a six month continuing resolution that will fund the government through March 27, 2013. The measure passed with bipartisan support, as members of both parties wanted to avoid dealing with appropriations in the lame duck session after the election. The bill provides $1.047 trillion to fund the federal government, which includes an across-the-board spending increase of 0.6 percent over current funding levels. The bill also maintains the current pay freeze for federal employees, which has been in effect for two years.

    FAIR 2012 Documents Released

    On September 17th, FASS released the results of the Farm Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2012 process. The FAIR 2012 forum was held March 4–6, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia, bringing together over 160 animal scientists, veterinarians and university, government and industry representatives met to discuss issues of food security, animal and human health, and responsible environmental stewardship. The results of FAIR highlight three key research, education and outreach priority areas for animal agriculture: food security, one health, and stewardship. The FAIR summary document, along with a longer outcomes document can be found on the FASS website. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith actively participated in the FAIR planning process and Lowell also served as a member of the FAIR Writing Committee. Lowell and Walt are distributing the FAIR documents to key Congressional, agency and industry stakeholders in Washington, DC.

    ASAS Releases Grand Challenges Documents

    Building on the results of FAIR, ASAS has developed a series of documents outlining the grand challenges facing the animal sciences. The grand challenges identify key issues in animal health, climate change, food safety, global food security and animal well being. These documents were released on September 17th and FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith are distributing these documents to Congress, agencies and industry in Washington, DC.

    FASS Washington Representatives Work with USDA to develop NAS Study on Animal Science

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith have been working with representatives from USDA to develop the concept for a National Academies of Science (NAS) consensus study entitled “Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research.” Discussions began this summer with Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Ann Bartuska regarding the need to build momentum for investments in the animal sciences. Lowell and Walt met on a number of occasions with Dr. Bartuska and representatives from ARS and NIFA to develop a proposal for NAS to conduct a study that builds on the results of FAIR 2012 as well as USDA sponsored workshops that examined priorities for animal science.

    Key questions identified for the study include:

    • Assessing global demand for products of animal origin in 2050 within the framework of ensuring global food security;
    • Evaluating how climate change and limited natural resources may impact the ability to meet future global demand for animal products in sustainable production systems, including typical conventional, alternative and evolving animal production systems;
    • Identifying factors that may impact domestic ability to meet demand for animal products, including the need for trained human capital, product safety and quality, and adoption of new knowledge and technologies;
    • Identifying resources needed to develop and disseminate this knowledge and technology; and
    • Describing the evolution of sustainable animal production systems relevant to production and production efficiency metrics.

    The consensus study is estimated to take approximately 6-9 months, which is shorter than the normal NAS process. USDA has identified some funds to support the study, but investments from foundations, the private sector and other sources will be sought to fully fund the study. It is hoped that this study can be used as a mechanism to build on FAIR 2012 and increase momentum for future investments in the animal sciences. A summary of the proposed study is attached to this report. FASS Washington Representatives are working closely with USDA and NAS as this process moves forward.

    FASS Washington Representative Speaks at Swine Nutrition Conference

    FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith attended the annual Midwest Swine Nutrition Conference on September 13th in Indianapolis. Walt provided the group an update on policy issues impacting animal agriculture and agricultural research, as well as the activities of the FASS Science Policy Committee.

    August
    August 31, 2012

    Farm Bill Update

    The month of August is traditionally slow in Washington, DC, and this is even truer during an election year. When Congress left town at the end of July, uncertainty remained as to the prospects of completing a comprehensive reauthorization of the farm bill. The Senate passed its version in June with bipartisan support. In the House, the Agriculture Committee passed its version in July, but the bill has yet to be scheduled for floor consideration. Farm groups are planning to push Congress to act quickly when they return from August recess, but current farm bill authorities expire at the end of September, leaving very few legislative days for Congress to reach agreement on a new farm bill. It appears more and more likely that some type of extension of authority will be needed to allow Congress to get past the November elections and complete work on the farm bill.

    Appropriations Update

    Before leaving for August recess, House and Senate reached an agreement to fund the federal government under a six month continuing resolution (CR). Congress is expected to approve the 6 month CR when it returns in September. USDA programs, including NIFA and ARS will be included in the CR.

    FASS Washington Representative to Speak at Swine Nutrition Conference

    FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith will be attending the annual Midwest Swine Nutrition Conference in September. Walt will address the group and provide an update on policy issues impacting animal agriculture and agricultural research, as well as the activities of the FASS Science Policy Committee. The conference takes place on September 13th in Indianapolis.

    July
    August 6, 2012

    Farm Bill Update

    On July 11, 2012, the House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the 2012 Farm Bill entitled the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM). FARRM was submitted as a bipartisan proposal by both Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson. FARRM would save over $35 billion dollars compared with the $24.7 billion in savings included in the Senate passed version. FARRM eliminates direct payments, and reforms commodity policy creating savings of more than $14 billion. The proposal also reforms the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) providing over $16 billion in savings, which has drawn sharp criticism from many Democrats. The remainder of savings comes from the consolidation of 23 conservation programs into 13.

    The FARRM Research Title reauthorizes all major USDA research and extension programs including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). FARRM includes budget submission requirements for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), similar to provisions included in the Senate bill. FARRM does not include provisions that would authorize a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), as was included in the Senate.

    While the House Agriculture Committee has acted, it is uncertain when the bill will be considered on the House floor. Given that farm bill programs expire on September 30th and the small number of legislative days until the November elections, legislators are facing a tough timeline. There was much debate about extending the current farm bill for one year and attaching it to provisions that would provide drought assistance. However, House leaders have decided not to pursue a one year extension at this time and move the drought bill separately.

    Continuing Resolution for Appropriations

    Leaders from the House and Senate have recently reached an agreement to fund the federal government under a six month continuing resolution. With few legislative days remaining until September 30th and the looming elections it was unlikely that any of the appropriations bills would be passed individually. The continuing resolution will fund the government at fiscal year 2012 levels, including agriculture programs. This means that funding for core NIFA programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the ARS will remain at last year’s level.

    FASS Washington Representative Participates PSA Annual Meeting

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel participated in the recent annual meetings of the Poultry Science Association (PSA) in Athens, Georgia. Lowell gave a presentation at the opening session and updated society members about the FASS Science Policy Program and current issues impacting the animal sciences in Washington, DC. Lowell also participated in several other events during the meeting and had the opportunity to network with members.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel participated in the Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) in Phoenix, Arizona. Lowell and Walt gave presentations to both the ADSA and ASAS board regarding the FASS Science Policy Program. They also presented at a separate FASS Science Policy session open to all members and worked the FASS booth on numerous occasions. While in Phoenix, Lowell and Walt also met with the ASAS Public Policy Committee to develop a workplan for the coming year.

    NIFA Director Attends JAM

    Sonny Ramaswamy, the new Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at USDA attended the recent Joint Annual Meeting. Dr. Ramaswamy conducted an open forum which was very well attended by ADSA and ASAS members. Dr. Ramaswamy shared his perspectives on issues ranging from competitive grants program administration to research budgets and the farm bill. The open forum yielded a lively discussion about policy issues and Dr. Ramaswamy solicited input and suggestions from the group about USDA research programs. He also met with society leaders and representatives from the FASS Science Policy Committee. He capped off his activities at JAM by delivering a presentation at the Global Networking Reception. FASS, ADSA and ASAS greatly appreciate Dr. Ramaswamy’s participation in JAM.

    SOAR Coalition Hosts Webinar

    A new coalition called Supporters of Agricultural Research (SOAR) has recently been formed to promote the importance of public investments in agricultural research, particularly through the use of competitive grants programs such as AFRI. Spearheaded by former NIFA Director Roger Beachy, the group hosted a webinar on July 25th to discuss the current status of funding for agricultural research. Much of the discussion centered on the need to better communicate the value of agricultural research to policy makers. The group plans to host future webinars to further the discussion and identify ways to elevate the discussion about investments in agricultural research. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the webinar.

    June
    July 12, 2012

    Senate Passes 2012 Farm Bill

    On June 21st, the Senate finished its consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, better known as the Farm Bill. After much controversy about how many amendments, and which amendments, would be allowed on the Senate floor, an agreement was reached to provide for consideration of 73 amendments. The bill ultimately passed the Senate by a vote of 64 to 35. The bill would save $24.7 billion with significant savings coming from commodity programs including the elimination of direct payments. The bill places increased emphasis on crop insurance as a key component of the agriculture safety net.

    The legislation includes a research title and reauthorizes major agricultural research programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. The bill also establishes a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). The FFAR would be a private, non-profit foundation, similar to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and will provide a new mechanism to support and conduct agricultural research. FASS has actively participated in an ad hoc coalition working on the foundation concept and is pleased that the program was included the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

    Another significant provision within the research title addresses how USDA provides information to Congress about its annual budget requests. The bill requires USDA and its research agencies to provide very specific information about the nature of programs it intends to fund each fiscal year. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), this will require the agency to describe each RFA that is anticipated for the coming fiscal year. The provision is designed to provide detailed information regarding the agencies’ plans, so that Congress may provide better oversight on research priorities and expenditures. It comes as a response to concerns that the agencies have not followed Congressional priorities laid out in statute.

    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has scheduled a meeting on July 11th to begin committee consideration of the House version of the Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30th, so activities are expected to intensify in hopes to have new legislation in place before current authorities expire.

    House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On June 19th, the House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The House version provides $19.4 billion in discretionary funding which is $365 million below last year’s level and $1.7 billion below the President’s budget request. The decrease in discretionary funding put pressure on all accounts funded in the bill, including agricultural research. As a result, overall funding for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is down from fiscal year 2012 and below the funding included in the Senate version. The table below includes selected agricultural research accounts and how they compare to last year, the Senate version and the President’s budget request. Floor consideration of the House agriculture appropriations bill is expected as early as the week of June 25th.

    Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations – Selected Accounts as of June 29, 2012

    Program
    FY 2012 Final
    FY 2013 President's Request
    FY 2013 Senate
    FY 2013 House
    Agriculture Research Service – Salaries and Expenses
    $1,094,647,000
    $1,102,565,000
    $1,101,853,000
    $1,073,499,000
    NIFA Research and Education Activities
    $705,599,000
    $732,730,000
    $738,638,000
    $691,487,000
    Hatch Act
    $236,334,000
    $234,834,000
    $236,334,000
    $231,607,000
    Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
    264,470,000
    325,000,000
    297,956,000
    276,515,000
    Continuing Animal Health and Disease Research Program
    4,000,000
    0
    4,000,000
    3,920,000
    NIFA Extension Activities
    $475,183,000
    462,473,000
    475,125,000
    462,473,000
    Smith Lever 3(b) and (c)
    $294,000,000
    $292,411,000
    $294,000,000
    $286,062,000
    Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database (FARAD)
    1,000,000
    0
    1,000,000
    973,000
    NIFA Integrated Activities
    $21,482,000
    43,542,000
    24,982,000
    21,052,000

    FASS and Founding Societies Signs Letter to President Obama Highlighting Importance of Agricultural Science

    On June 1, 2012, ADSA, along with FASS, ASAS, PSA and other agriculture and science organizations sent a letter to President Obama thanking him for elevating the issues of food security and nutrition at the recent G8 meetings in Chicago. The letter states that a firm commitment by the U.S. government is needed to aggressively support agricultural innovation, including modern biotechnology. This commitment will be necessary to ensure farmers have the tools they need to produce safe and nutritious food, in addition to feed, fuel and fiber, in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. The letter also emphasizes the critical role of animal and plant science in helping meet growing global food demands.

    FASS Sponsoring Webinar with NIH

    The FASS Science Policy Committee sponsored a webinar on June 12, 2012 entitled “Strengthening the Ties Between Animal Science and Biomedicine: Dual Use and Other Opportunities Through the NIH.” Webinar participants heard from Dr. Ravi N. Ravindranath of NIH about how to work with the National Institutes of Health and current dual use programs. They also heard from Dr. Thomas E. Spencer who has successfully competed for NIH funding and also served on NIH review panels. The webinar can be accessed on the FASS website at: http://www.fass.org/policy_webinar.asp.

    FASS and Founding Societies Sign Letter to USDA

    On June 29th, FASS, ADSA, ASAS and PSA joined a number of scientific societies to send a letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack regarding USDA employee travel to scientific meetings. The letter highlights the value of participation at scientific and technical conferences by USDA scientists and researchers to the advancement of agricultural science and the USDA mission. These meetings and conferences are an essential venue for scientific discussion, debate, collaboration and exchange that are fundamental to the conduct of science. The letter encourages Secretary Vilsack to continue to provide the necessary flexibility for government employees to attend scientific and technical conferences organized or supported by professional societies and non-governmental organizations.

    May
    June 1, 2012

    FASS Sponsors Symposium in Washington, DC

    On May 21st, the FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Drugs and Animal Health sponsored a symposium to address emerging issues impacting animal agriculture and the animal sciences. The event was held at the American Farm Bureau Federation headquarters and 50 representatives from academia, government and industry participated in the symposium. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith played an active role in the development of the agenda and securing speakers for the symposium.

    Participants heard from representatives of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine regarding the agency’s antibiotics policies, veterinary feed directive, regulation of feed ingredients, and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. USDA representatives, including Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and new NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy, addressed issues ranging from agricultural research policies to food safety and animal health. The group also heard from Senate Agriculture Committee staff about the 2012 Farm Bill and the FASS Congressional Science Fellow. A full copy of the agenda can be found by clicking here.

    FASS and Founding Societies Sign Letter Supporting Research Funding

    FASS, ADSA, ASAS and PSA joined an effort led by the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) to send an open letter to Congress about the importance of agriculture research. The open letter was placed in the National Journal and urged Members of Congress to support investments in agriculture research as the fiscal year 2013 appropriations process continues. The letter cites the strong return on investment of federal funds in agriculture research and that more than 21 million American jobs depend on the vitality of the agriculture sector.

    FASS and Founding Societies Sign Letter Supporting Ag Research Foundation

    FASS, ADSA, ASAS and PSA joined like minded scientific and agriculture organizations in sending a letter to the House Agriculture Committee supporting the establishment of a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The House Agriculture Committee recently completed its farm bill hearings process and is in the process of preparing for committee consideration of its version of the 2012 Farm Bill. House committee action is expected to take place this summer. The Senate Agriculture Committee has already approved its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, which includes provisions authorizing the creation of a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The Senate version is expected to be considered on the floor of the Senate as early as June.

    FASS Sponsoring Webinar with NIH

    The FASS Science Policy Committee is sponsoring a webinar on June 12, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:00pm entitled “Strengthening the Ties Between Animal Science and Biomedicine: Dual Use and Other Opportunities Through the NIH.” Webinar participants will hear from NIH representatives about how to work with the National Institutes of Health and current dual use programs. They will also hear from a university scientist who has successfully competed for NIH funding and also served on NIH review panels. To register for the webinar, please visit the following site: http://www.fass.org/policy.asp

    FASS Washington Representatives Prepare for Annual Meetings

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith will be attending the upcoming Poultry Science Association annual meeting and the ADSA/ASAS Joint Annual Meeting in July. We look forward to seeing society members at these meetings and encourage you to attend our FASS Science Policy Update session at JAM on Monday afternoon from 5:00pm - 6:00pm – check your program for additional details.

    April
    May 1, 2012

    Senate Agriculture Committee Approves Farm Bill Proposal

    On Thursday, April 26th, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a business meeting to consider Farm Bill legislation. The bill received bipartisan support and was approved by the committee by a vote of 16-5. The bill would save $24.7 billion with significant savings coming from the elimination and restructuring of commodity programs. Those opposing the bill were primarily from southern states and had concerns that changes to commodity support programs would disproportionately harm producers of crops such as rice and peanuts.

    The legislation includes a research title and reauthorizes major agricultural research programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. While most of the research title provisions related to discretionary authorities, the title does include mandatory funding for the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, Organic Research Initiative and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program. The bill also establishes a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and includes $100 million in mandatory spending to provide seed money. The FFAR would be a private, non-profit foundation, similar to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and will provide a new mechanism to support and conduct agricultural research. FASS has actively participated in an ad hoc coalition working on the foundation concept and is pleased that the program was included the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

    Another significant provision within the research title addresses how USDA provides information to Congress about its annual budget requests. The bill requires USDA and its research agencies to provide very specific information about the nature of programs it intends to fund each fiscal year. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), this will require the agency to describe each RFA that is anticipated for the coming fiscal year. The provision is designed to provide detailed information regarding the agencies’ plans, so that Congress may provide better oversight on research priorities and expenditures. It comes as a response to concerns that the agencies have not followed Congressional priorities laid out in statute.

    The Senate hopes to bring the Farm Bill to the Senate floor for action prior to Memorial Day. The House Agriculture committee continues to hold Farm Bill hearings.

    Senate Committee Advances FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

    On Thursday, April 26th, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met to consider its version of the FY 2013 agriculture appropriations bill. The committee approved the bill by a vote of 28 to 1. The bill provides $20.785 billion in overall discretionary spending. For research, the bill provides $1.239 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and $1.101 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, both slightly up from last year. Specifically within NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is funded at $298 million, an increase of $33.5 million over last year. The Hatch Act and Smith-Lever Sections 3(b) and 3(c) were funded at the same level as last year with $236 million and $294 million, respectively.

    CVM Releases Voluntary Feed Directive Information

    On April 11th, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) released three documents related to antibiotic use in food-producing animals. The action by CVM is the next step in the agency’s effort to promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics. The three documents are:

    • A final guidance for industry, The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals, that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.
    • A draft guidance, open for public comment, which will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control, and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.
    • A draft proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways that veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, which is important to make the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.

    It is important to note that this is a voluntary initiative and that while certain antibiotics would not be used for growth promotion or improving feed efficiency, these antibiotics would still be available for disease prevention and control. The CVM announcement was met with mixed reviews from industry and consumer groups. Several industry organizations expressed support for CVM’s collaborative approach and agreed with the importance of involving veterinarians in the administration of antibiotics. Some concerns were raised about the feasibility of requiring veterinary oversight and they disproportionate impact it could have on small producers and those in remote areas. Consumer groups were disappointed that CVM took a voluntary approach would like to see mandated requirements with stronger enforcement mechanisms.

    FASS, Founding Societies Support FDA Science-Based Process

    On April 24th, FASS and each of the founding societies joined 24 agriculture organizations in sending a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The letter came in response to reports that several amendments were being considered for inclusion in the committee’s mark-up of the Prescription Drug Fee User Act (PDUFA) that would prohibit FDA from using its science-based review process to evaluate genetically modified products such as genetically enhanced salmon. Many in the agriculture industry believe these policies changes would set a dangerous precedent in the U.S. regulatory system and would elevate market considerations above science when FDA considers future GMO products. The letter to leaders of the committee is similar to a letter FASS and the founding societies supported in 2011 and is consistent with a letter FASS sent to FDA in support of its science-based process for evaluating genetically modified products.

    FASS Sponsors May Symposium in DC

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee for Food Safety, Animal Drugs and Animal Health will hold its annual symposium on May 21st at the American Farm Bureau Federation offices in Washington, DC from 8:45am – 4:00pm. Registration for the event is free and lunch will be provided. FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith have played an active role in the development of the program agenda and in securing speakers. Participants will hear from FDA and USDA officials on a variety of topics including:

    • Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance
    • Veterinary Feed Directive
    • Regulation of New and Existing Feed Ingredients
    • Animal Drug User Fee Act
    • Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation
    • Non-0157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. Coli Regulation and Testing
    • APHIS Modernization
    • USDA/REE Action Plan
    • 2012 Farm Bill
    • FAIR 2012
    March
    May 1, 2012

    FASS and Founding Societies Support Coalition Letters on AFRI Program Budget

    On February 27th the AFRI Coalition sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in support of the President’s request of $325 million for the AFRI program. A total of 51 organizations signed the letter, including FASS, ADSA, ASAS and PSA. The letter recognizes current budget constraints, but makes the case that for every federal dollar invested in agricultural research, there is at least a $20 contribution to the nation’s economy. FASS and the founding societies will continue working with like minded partners to support the federal investment in agricultural research.

    FASS Sponsors National Forum on the Future Science Needs of Animal Agriculture

    The Farm Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2012 Forum was held March 4-6, 2012, in Arlington, Virginia, to establish research, education and outreach priorities for animal agriculture. More than 160 animal scientists, veterinarians and university, government and industry representatives met to discuss issues of food security, animal and human health, and responsible environmental stewardship. This was the third national forum, which are held nearly every five years to coincide with the U.S. Farm Bill deliberations. The priorities developed at the forum are designed to provide input to the $3.2 billion federal agricultural research, education and economic programs.

    The underlying theme of FAIR 2012 was the challenge of meeting future food requirements of a global population expected to reach 9 million by mid-century while preserving the ecosystems we all rely on. Experts presented economic, ecological and societal analyses, followed by discussion to identify key research, education and outreach priorities that will be essential in achieving these goals.

    The recommendations of the FAIR 2012 forum are planned for release within 60 days of the conference. The end product will serve as the basis for communications to policy makers, the White House, the USDA and other federal funding agencies, universities, industry and other stakeholders. For more information on the FAIR 2012 program, please visit http://fair2012.fass.org.

    FASS Washington Representative Presents Comments at PCAST Meeting

    On March 6th, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology held a meeting in Washington, DC. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the meeting and presented oral comments on behalf of FASS. Lowell’s comments centered around the recent FAIR 2012 meeting and efforts to identify critical priorities for animal science research. PCAST is currently undertaking a study on agriculture research and PCAST indicated a strong interest in receiving copies of the FAIR 2012 results, once they are completed.

    New NIFA Director Appointed

    On March 9th, President Obama announced his intention to appoint Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy as Director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Dr. Ramaswamy currently serves as the Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University and Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. He has also served as an Associate Dean at Purdue University and as Head of the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and holds a Ph.D. in Entomology from Rutgers University. Dr. Ramaswamy will by the second Director of NIFA, following Dr. Roger Beachy who left the post in 2011. The NIFA Director is a presidential appointee with a term of six years. The USDA press release announcing the appointment can be found by clicking here.

    FASS Provides Written Comments on AFRI Program

    In follow-up to oral comments presented by Washington Representative Walt Smith at the February 22nd AFRI listening session, FASS submitted written comments addressing issues related to the AFRI program’s operation. The FASS written comments addressed a number of issues impacting the animal sciences including:

    • The need for a stronger investment in food security related research
    • The lack of opportunities for animal scientists to participate in many of the challenge area programs and the disproportionately low overall investment in animal science related projects
    • The need for more lead time in preparing for RFAs and longer page limits for larger grants

    FASS and Founding Societies Support Legislation to Create Research Foundation

    On March 29th, Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced legislation that would establish a foundation that will enable private donations to support research on challenges facing U.S. agriculture. The bill is entitled “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)”, authorizes the establishment of a 501(c) 3, a non-profit organization, and includes provisions outlining the duties and structure of the foundation, including an appointed Board of Directors representing the diverse sectors of agriculture. Similar foundations have been used to successfully support research in other areas such as human health. The new foundation can be a useful tool to foster new public-private partnerships among the agricultural research community, including USDA research agencies, academia, private corporations, and non-profit organizations.

    FASS continues to work with the newly formed Ad Hoc Coalition to support agricultural research. The coalition has identified the creation of a new foundation to support agricultural research as a priority and the group drafted a letter in support of the legislation. FASS and the founding societies joined over 90 agriculture related organizations in signing the letter. It is likely that the bill authorizing the foundation would be attached to the 2012 Farm Bill, rather than moving as a separate piece of legislation. The Senate Agriculture Committee is continuing to hold Farm Bill hearings with the goal of having a bill drafted before Memorial Day.

    Washington Representatives Participate in FASS Board Meeting

    On March 30th, FASS Washington Representatives participated in the FASS spring board meeting. Lowell and Walt updated the Board on recent developments in Congress and the Administration and the activities of the FASS Washington effort.

    February
    March 12, 2012

    President Releases FY 2013 Budget Proposal

    On February 13th, President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013, including the budget for USDA and its research agencies. Overall discretionary spending for USDA is proposed to be $24 billion, which is roughly the same amount as FY 2012. For the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the proposal requests a total of $1.244 billion for discretionary programs, which is an increase of $37 million over FY 2012. Some highlights from the NIFA budget include:

    • Research and Education Programs -$733 million ($27 million more than FY12)
      • Hatch Act- $235 million ($1 million less than FY12)
      • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)- $325 million This represents a $60.5 million increase over FY 2012. Of the $60.5 million, targeted increases are proposed in the following areas:
        • $30 million for bioenergy
        • $3.7 million for adapting production systems related to climate change
        • $7.2 million for food security
        • $2.2 million for food safety and antibiotic resistance
        • $7.2 million for nutrition and obesity
        • $5.2 million for NIFA fellowships
        • $3.2 million for Foundational Research programs
    • Extension Programs -$462 million ($13 million less than FY12)
      • Smith Lever3(b&c) - $292 million ($2 million less than FY12)

    For the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the President’s Budget proposes at total of $1.113 billion in FY 2013, an increase of $4 million over last year. Specific to the animal sciences, the amount proposed for livestock production is $71 million, down $5 million from FY 2012. Livestock protection is slated for a $2 million increase from $76 million in FY 2012 to $78 million in FY 2013.

    Congress will now begin its process of examining the President’s budget request and conducting appropriations hearings. A full copy of the USDA budget summary can be found by clicking here.

    FASS, Founding Societies Support AFRI Program

    On February 27th the AFRI Coalition sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in support of the President’s request of $325 million for the AFRI program. A total of 51 organizations signed the letter, including FASS, ADSA, ASAS and PSA. The letter recognizes current budget constraints, but makes the case that for every federal dollar invested in agricultural research, there is at least a $20 contribution to the nation’s economy. FASS and the founding societies will continue working with like minded partners to support the federal investment in agricultural research.

    FASS Participates in AFRI Stakeholder Listening Session

    On February 22nd, The National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) AFRI program held a stakeholders listening session regarding future AFRI requests for applications. FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith participated in the meeting and gave oral comments on behalf of FASS. The FASS comments addressed a number of issues impacting the animal sciences including:

    • The need for a stronger investment in food security related research
    • The lack of opportunities for animal scientists to participate in many of the challenge area programs and the disproportionately low overall investment in animal science related projects
    • The need for more lead time in preparing for RFAs and longer page limits for larger grants

    FASS is currently in the process of finalizing written comments that will also be submitted to the agency.

    FASS Participates in NIH Advisory Committee Meeting

    The FASS Science Policy Committee has identified strengthening relationships with the National Institutes of Health as an important goal of the committee. In furtherance of this goal, FASS is looking for ways to engage NIH about the role and importance of agricultural animals to the work of NIH. On February 13th, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a meeting of its Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. Former FASS President Mary Ann Ottinger, currently with the University of Maryland, participated in the meeting on behalf of FASS. This meeting was a good opportunity to learn more about NIH priorities in the area of human genome research, establish additional relationships NIH, and build on the efforts of the Science Policy Committee.

    January
    February 3, 2012

    USDA Releases Blueprint for Stronger Service

    On January 9th, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack announced that the Department of Agriculture will be undergoing a restructuring resulting in the closure of 259 offices in the United States and 7 offices in foreign countries. The announcement comes as a part of the Obama Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste and is expected to save over $150 million annually.

    USDA asserts that some of the offices to be closed are no longer staffed or have a very small staff and many are within 20 miles of another USDA office. In some cases, the use of technology has reduced the need for brick and mortar facilities.

    Reaction to the Department’s proposal has been somewhat mixed. While many have applauded the efforts to streamline agencies and cut costs, concerns have been raised about the ability of the Department to maintain the same level of service after the closing of these offices.

    With respect to the Department’s research agencies, the Agricultural Research Service will be closing 12 programs at 10 locations. The ARS closures are not a surprise, as they were included in the President’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal and were approved by Congress through the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

    Below is a listing of offices, by agency, that would be closed under the Blueprint for Stronger Service:

    • Farm Service Agency (FSA): Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states
    • Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS): Close 2 country offices
    • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Close 15 APHIS offices in 11 states and 5 APHIS offices in 5 foreign countries
    • Rural Development (RD): Close 43 area and sub offices in 17 states and U.S. territories
    • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states
    • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): Close 5 district offices in 5 states
    • Agricultural Research Service (ARS): Close 12 programs at 10 locations
    • Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNCS): Close 31 field offices in 28 states

    The Agricultural Research Service facilities to be closed are:

    • Alaska: Fairbanks, Fairbanks North Star Borough – Subarctic Agricultural Research
    • California: Shafter, Kern County – Western Integrated Cropping Systems Research
    • Florida: Brooksville, Hernando County – Beef Cattle Research
    • Georgia: Watkinsville, Oconee County – Southern Piedmont Conservation Research
    • Louisiana: New Orleans, Orleans Parish – Formosan Subterranean Termites Research
    • Ohio: Coshocton, Coshocton County – North Appalachian Experimental Watershed Research
    • Oklahoma: Lane, Atoka County – Genetics and Production Research
    • South Carolina: Clemson, Pickens County – Cotton Quality Research
    • Texas: Weslaco, Hidalgo County – Kika de le Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center
    • West Virginia: Beaver, Raleigh County – Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center

    For more information on the USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service click here.

    OMB Signals Plan for Single Food Safety Agency

    In addition to closing offices through the Blueprint for Stronger Service, the Obama Administration is looking to streamline other government functions. As a part of this broader effort, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has indicated that there would be efforts to establish a single food safety agency. The concept of a single food safety agency has been discussed for quite some time in Washington, as both USDA and FDA have major food safety responsibilities. According to OMB, if Congress allows the Administration to move forward with its plans, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) would likely be merged into the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Whether Congress will go along with this plan is uncertain, as Congressional committees are generally reluctant to give up jurisdiction. In addition, during consideration of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in January 2011, the concept of a single food safety agency was not a major focus of the debate. Some believe that this would have been the best opportunity for advocates of a single food safety agency to succeed, because Democrats controlled the House and Senate, as well as the White House.

    FSIS Announces Plan to Streamline Poultry Inspection

    On January 20th, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) released a proposed rule designed to streamline poultry inspections. The proposed rule would establish a new system for poultry inspections that will transition the responsibility for identifying visual flaws such as bruises to companies, while inspectors focus on more food safety critical issues like sampling for pathogens and improving sanitation. The changes would ultimately lead to a reduction of approximately 1000 inspectors nationwide. FSIS estimates that the changes will save the agency over $90 million over the first three years and save industry $250 million. A copy of the Federal Register notice can be found here and FSIS will be accepting comments until April 26, 2012.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in Mid-Year Meetings

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith participated in the ADSA and PSA mid-year meetings during the month of January. Lowell met with the PSA Board of Directors in Atlanta, while Walt traveled to Phoenix to meet with the ADSA Board of Directors. The FASS Washington Representatives discussed the current political climate in Washington, DC including prospects for the 2012 Farm Bill and 2013 appropriations as well as FASS Science Policy activities in Washington. In addition to the presentations given by Walt and Lowell, the FASS Science Policy Committee submitted a written mid-year report to the boards of each of the founding societies.

    FASS Participates in Ad Hoc Coalition for Agricultural Research

    On January 18th, FASS Science Policy Committee Chair Jim Pettigrew and FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in a meeting of an Ad Hoc Coalition for agricultural research. The January meeting continued the discussion between scientific societies, commodity groups and industry about potential ways to work together to support funding for agricultural research.

    While no concrete action items emerged from the meeting, it was a good opportunity to strategize with like minded organizations about how to protect, and hopefully increase the investment in agricultural research in the coming years. The group agreed to continue meeting with the goal of developing a more structured effort to support research. The group had its first meeting last fall, and led to the development of a letter to the Super Committee urging support for agricultural research. That letter garnered over 1200 signatures.

    FASS Washington Representative Participates in AAAS Budget Team

    Each year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) compiles a report on the funding of science across the federal government. Two years ago, AAAS added a chapter that looks at investments in the agriculture related sciences not just by USDA, but other agencies such as NIH, NSF, DOE and others. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel has been on the writing team for the new chapter since its inception and will participate on the team again for fiscal year 2013.

    2011

    December
    January 2, 2013

    FASS Joins Letter Urging Support for AFRI

    The Federation of Animal Science Societies and over 20 other agriculture and science related organizations sent a letter to President Obama and leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate urging an agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and across the board spending cuts. The letter comes as the White House and Congress continue negotiations to resolve the “fiscal cliff” and the resulting sequestration that would kick at the beginning of January 2013. Should sequestration take place, discretionary science programs such as the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) will face significant cuts. The letter goes on to describe some success stories from the AFRI program and the negative impacts sequestration would have on agricultural research.

    President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Release Report on Agricultural Preparedness

    On Friday, December 7th, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on Agricultural Preparedness and the Agriculture Research Enterprise. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the White House release event that was led by John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. FASS has been closely tracking the progress of this report as it has been developed by PCAST. The report was announced earlier this year and FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel made public comments in support of agricultural research and the animal sciences to PCAST in March 2012. In his comments, Lowell also described the FAIR 2012 process and copies of the final FAIR 2012 report were delivered to PCAST as it was drafting the report on agricultural preparedness.

    The PCAST report recognizes the importance of federal investment in agriculture research and offers a number of recommendations to strengthen the nation’s agriculture research system. Recommendations include:

    • Expand the role of competition in agricultural research funding:
      • Expand the use of competition in allocation of research funding within intramural and extramural programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
      • Increase the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget for basic science relevant to agriculture from $120 million to $250 million per year.
      • Increase the USDA budget for competitive funding of extramural research from $265 million to $500 million per year, consistent with the 2008 congressional authorization.
    • Greatly expand a competitively awarded fellowship program for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers at a level of $180 million per year with at least 5-year funding.
    • Expand the USDA program of competitive awards for new infrastructure investments for agricultural research with an emphasis on specialization and consolidation to avoid redundancies.
    • Create six large, multidisciplinary innovation institutes focused on emerging challenges to agriculture, supported by public-private partnerships at an initial new Federal investment of $150 million per year to create six institutes at a funding level of $25 million per year for no less than 5 years.
    • Conduct an internal review of Federal regulatory policy for agriculture to promote regulatory clarity, consistent with Executive Order 13563, as well as the Presidential Memorandum on technology transfer from the national laboratories to the marketplace.
    • Establish an implementation committee to act on these recommendations. Create a permanent, independent science advisory committee to advise the Chief Scientist of the USDA.

    The recommended increase to the overall investment is welcome news to the agriculture research community and presents an additional opportunity to share the results of FAIR 2012 with policy makers as they consider implementing components of the PCAST report. However, full implementation of the recommendations could prove challenging given the uncertain budget situation and the impending “fiscal cliff”. A full copy of the report can be found on the PCAST website along with a press release.

    FASS Washington Representative Attends U.S. Chamber Event on Agriculture Innovation

    On December 19th the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted an event titled Agriculture: Growing Innovation and Opportunities as a part of its Business Horizon Series. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the meeting. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at the event and stressed the importance of science and technology for the future of agriculture. Secretary Vilsack also commented on the Farm Bill and indicated that it unlikely that a Farm Bill will be completed in 2012.

    Speakers from production agriculture, industry and the federal government addressed issues such as meeting the growing global demand for food and which sectors in agriculture were growing the most quickly. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Darci Vetter cited increased demands for meat and dairy products as incomes continue to rise in the developing world. Luncheon keynote speaker Gregory Page from Cargill also talked about the importance of animal agriculture and cited the recent PCAST report on agriculture in calling for increased investments in agricultural research.

    More information about the event, including a link to Secretary Vilsack’s remarks can be found by clicking here.

    Farm Bill Update

    The Farm Bill continues to be stalled as leaders from the White House and Congress wrangle over the “fiscal cliff”. One of the paths for the Farm Bill would be to attach it to the deal that would avoid the fiscal cliff. Both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill provide significant savings, making this an attractive option for some in Congress. However, House Speaker Boehner made some public comments in late December that he was hesitant to include the Farm Bill in a fiscal cliff package. With this news, there was some speculation that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees would start the drafting process over again early next year with the target of completing a new Farm Bill before a new budget baseline is announced sometime in March 2013. The timing would be important because changes to the budget baseline in March could result in the committees needing to make additional cuts to save the same amount of money as in the current proposals. There still remains the possibility of an extension of the 2008 bill for some period of time, perhaps a year, although some members of Congress are strongly opposed to an extension.

    November
    December 5, 2011

    Congress Approves FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations

    On November 16th, the House and Senate both voted to approve an appropriations “mini-bus” bill that includes the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, as well as the bills that provide funding for Departments including Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Justice and State. The bill also includes a continuing resolution for the remaining government agencies through December 16th. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law before the current continuing resolution expires on November 18th.

    As previously reported in Dair-e-news, there were large differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the agriculture appropriations bills, with the House numbers being significantly lower than the Senate. There is good news for agriculture research in the approved conference report, as many of the accounts are funded at or near the Senate levels. Total funding for agriculture research is $2.5 billion, which is approximately $53 million less than last year, but still much higher than the amount proposed in the House passed version. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is funded at $264 million. The funding for the Hatch Act is $236 million, with $294 million going to Smith Lever 3(b) and (c) programs. The Agriculture Research Service will receive 1.094 billion under the conference report.

    A full copy of the conference report can be found by clicking here.

    Super Committee Fails – Farm Bill Back to “Regular Order”

    Just ahead of the Super Committee’s November 23rd deadline, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released their recommendations regarding the 2012 Farm Bill. The recommendations included changes to farm subsidy programs that would result in approximately $23 billion in savings. Roughly $15 billion of those savings would come from commodity programs, with the remainder coming from conservation and nutrition programs. The recommendations did include mandatory funding in the Research Title for the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, Organic Research Initiative and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program. The recommendations also created a reporting and planning requirement for USDA to provide more detailed information regarding expected research expenditures when submitting its annual budget request to Congress. This provision was included in large part to address concerns raised about funding priorities for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. It appears that the remainder of the Research Title would largely have been unchanged.

    The process and timeline used to develop the recommendations for the super committee had come under fire from both Members of Congress and outside groups who were advocating for the farm bill drafting process to be more transparent. With the failure of the Super Committee to reach an agreement on how to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit, it appears that the joint committee recommendations will be laid aside and the farm bill process will return to its normal process of committee hearings and mark-ups. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has indicated that Farm Bill hearings are likely to resume next January or February.

    ASAS Experts Brief EPA

    On November 30th, a group of ASAS member scientists met with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss the impacts of feed management on manure composition, with particular attention to distiller’s dried grains (DDGs). The meeting was coordinated by FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith and led by Dr. Jim Pettigrew, Chair of the FASS Science Policy Committee and immediate past chair of the ASAS Public Policy Committee. Dr. Scott Radcliff from Purdue University feed management issues related to swine and poultry, while Dr. Mike Brown from West Texas A&M University covered beef and dairy cattle. Incoming ASAS President Dr. James Sartin also participated in the meeting. Personnel from the EPA Offices of Water and Compliance and Enforcement participated in the meeting and the presentations sparked a lively discussion regarding the use of feed management strategies can optimize manure composition and the impacts feeding DDGs can have on manure. This meeting is the second in a series of science based programs being offered to EPA personnel. The first program, presented in the summer of 2011, dealt with the evolution of the animal agriculture industry and the challenges of meeting global food security. Additional programs are expected in the future.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Developing Comments for OSTP

    On October 11th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Federal Register notice entitled: Request for Information: Building a 21st Century Bioeconomy. According to OSTP, the purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit input from all interested parties regarding recommendations for harnessing biological research innovations to meet national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment while creating high-wage, high-skill jobs. The FASS Science Policy Committee has appointed a subcommittee which is examining the RFI and considering a potential FASS response. More information on the RFI and OSTP’s initiative on the bioeconomy can be found here. The comment period closes on December 6th.

    FASS Washington Representative Speaks to DC ARPAS Chapter

    On November 16th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel spoke to the Washington, DC area chapter of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. This marked the third year in a row where Lowell has met with the group to discuss policy issues impacting the animal sciences and the FASS Science Policy Program.

    October
    November 2, 2011

    FASS, Founding Societies Sign Letter to Super Committee Supporting Research

    FASS, along with American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, and Poultry Science Association recently joined 1200 other organizations and individuals in sending a letter to members of the Congressional Super Committee tasked with finding up to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. The letter urges the Super Committee to support funding for research for food and agriculture as it develops overall budget proposals for the future. The letter further requests that, at a minimum, funding in the current budget for agricultural research programs be maintained and that further cuts be avoided.

    Meanwhile, standing committees of the House and Senate have been working on their own recommendations to the Super Committee. On October 17th, leaders from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees sent a letter to the Super Committee outlining their recommendations. The committees suggested that $23 billion in mandatory spending be cut from programs within the committees' jurisdiction.

    The letter states that the committees are currently finalizing the policies that would achieve $23 billion in deficit reduction and that a complete legislative package will be available by early November. Committee leaders also pointed out that $23 billion in savings is more than any sequestration process would achieve, suggesting that such an amount should absolve the Agriculture Committee programs from any further reductions.

    The Super Committee has until November 23rd to approve a plan to achieve $1.5 trillion in savings. The plan would then be submitted to both houses of Congress with a December 23rd deadline for approval. Should Congress not reach an agreement, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts would be triggered on January 15, 2012.

    Secretary Vilsack Outlines Farm Bill Priorities, Urges Support for Research

    On October 24th, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack delivered a speech in Iowa outlining the department’s priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill. Secretary Vilsack talked about the importance of maintaining a viable safety net for producers and stressed the importance of research for the future success of American agriculture. Vilsack stated that, "Public funding for agricultural research has remained basically flat-lined since the 1990s, clearly not keeping pace with other federally-supported research; and a recent USDA study sounded a warning signal to all of us that there is a direct link between increases in agricultural investment on research and agricultural productivity. If we continue to flat-line our commitment to research, our productivity will likely suffer; this at a time when our productivity will have to continue to increase to meet the global demand for food. It is encouraging that the Secretary is elevating the issue of research funding, particularly given current budget constraints and efforts to reduce the deficit. A full transcript of the Secretary’s remarks can be found here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2011/10/0458.xml&navid=TRANSCRIPT&navtype=RT&parentnav=TRANSCRIPTS_SPEECHES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent

    ASAS Representatives Meet in Washington

    Members of the ASAS Executive Committee and Public Policy Committee met in Washington on October 24th and 25th. The group had the opportunity to meet with a variety of federal agencies, including the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At NIFA, the group met with National Program Leaders to discuss current and upcoming Requests for Applications and ways to increase opportunities for the animal sciences. The group also met with representatives from the NIFA Director’s office to discuss the budget situation for the agency and potential policy changes being considered both by the agency and Congress with the upcoming Farm Bill.

    Bernadette Dunham, Director of CVM spoke to the group about policy issues currently being addressed by CVM, including implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and judicious use of antibiotics. At USAID, ASAS representatives learned more about the Feed the Future initiative and potential opportunities for the animal sciences. The meeting at EPA further built on relationships established during meetings last year which have led to ASAS providing educational programs to EPA staff. It is anticipated that another educational session will be scheduled for ASAS experts to address EPA staff in the coming weeks.

    EPA Announces CAFO Rulemaking

    On October 31st, the EPA released a proposed rule regarding reporting requirements for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). According to EPA, the rule would require CAFOs to submit basic operational information to EPA so the Agency can more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health. The proposed rule suggests two different regulatory options regarding which CAFOs would be required to report to EPA. The first option would require every CAFO to report this information to EPA, unless an applicable state NPDES program chooses to provide this information on behalf of the CAFOs in their state. The second option would require CAFOs in focus watersheds that have water quality concerns associated with CAFOs to report information to EPA.

    A copy of the rule, along with a fact sheet and Q&A document can be found on the EPA site at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/aforule.cfm#reportingrule. For those interested in learning more about the proposed rule, EPA will be conducting webinars on November 9th and 17th. Details about the webinars can be found here: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/courses.cfm?program_id=0&outreach_id=614&o_type=1

    EPA will be accepting public comments on the two proposed options through December 20, 2011. It is anticipated that EPA will take final action by July 2012.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Briefed on Legislation

    Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee were briefed by staff from Congressman Devin Nunes office regarding legislation entitled the Charitable Agricultural Research Act. The concept is to encourage additional private investments in agricultural research by authorizing the creation of a new type of charitable, tax-exempt organization to allow private monies to fund agricultural research. Each agricultural research organization (ARO) would work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture. Bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate and efforts are underway to advance the legislation as a part of a larger tax package that may move through Congress in the coming months. A press release from Rep. Nunes office can be viewed here: http://nunes.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=260437 and a copy of the legislation can be found here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.2959.

    September
    October 5, 2011

    FASS Science Policy Committee Meets in Washington

    Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee met in Washington, DC on September 12-13. The committee met to further develop its work plan for this year, including plans for additional science policy statements and webinars. In the area of policy statements, the committee agreed to review the content and format of existing policy statements, as well as develop new ones in the areas of:

    • Modernization/Future of Animal Production in the US
    • Food Safety
    • Climate Change
    • Next Generation of Animal/Dairy/Poultry Scientists
    • Genetically modified organisms

    The committee also set the goal of having at least four webinars each year, and identified a number of topics for upcoming webinars including the impact of budget challenges at USDA on the animal sciences, potential funding opportunities at NIH and NSF and food security.

    In addition to having internal discussions to develop the work plan, committee members also met with key Congressional staff and representatives from the NIH. Meetings took place with staff of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to discuss the current situation with reauthorization of the Farm Bill and potential hot issues related to the Research Title. It appears that the activities of the "Super Committee" will accelerate the committees’ work on the Farm Bill and significant movement is expected in the coming weeks.

    At NIH, committee members met with agency representatives to discuss how FASS can better engage with NIH and identify opportunities for animal scientists to be involved with NIH.

    FASS and Founding Societies Support Research Funding Efforts

    As was reported in the August Monthly Report, FASS representatives met with an ad hoc group of science and industry groups at the end of August to discuss the need for support of agricultural research. The meeting resulted in the development of a letter that will be sent to the "Super Committee" urging them to not reduce the investment in the agricultural sciences as a part of their deficit reduction activities. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel played an active role in the drafting of the letter and FASS and each of the founding societies have indicated support for the letter, which will be sent in October.

    FASS and the founding societies also signed on to letters sent by the AFRI Coalition to leaders of the House and Senate urging support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program as final funding decisions are made for fiscal year 2012. The letters urge 2012 funding to be at the Senate proposed level of $266 million rather than the $229 million provided in the House passed version. FY 2012 appropriations are currently operating under a short term continuing resolution as Congress attempts to complete it appropriations work for the fiscal year.

    FASS Webinar on Biotechnology Available Online

    On September 1, 2011 the FASS Science Policy Committee held a webinar entitled "Animal Biotechnology Today". The webinar features presentations from FASS scientists, and representatives from FDA and industry. An archived copy of the webinar is available on the FASS website at: http://www.fass.org/policy_webinar.asp

    NIFA Releases New RFAs for AFRI Program

    On September 28th, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released an announcement of three new requests for applications (RFAs) for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The RFAs relate to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change and Sustainable Bioenergy challenge areas as well as the NIFA Fellowships Grant program. The RFAs are being released prior to the passage of fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations, but NIFA has included language stating that, "Enactment of Continuing Resolutions or an Appropriations Act may affect the overall level of funding for the AFRI program. Therefore, NIFA reserves the right to amend, delete, or alter any programs outlined in this RFA."

    While it is not clear what the final investment in AFRI will be for FY 2012, NIFA is anticipating that that approximately $264 million will be available to support the AFRI program. Of this amount, they are expecting to invest the following amounts in the RFAs recently released:

    Agricultural and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change - $12 million

    Food Security - $19 million

    Sustainable Bioenergy - $11 million

    NIFA Fellowships Grant Program - $12 million

    These RFAs represent a number of funding opportunities for the animal sciences. For example, the Food Security RFA specifically includes an area called Improving Animal Health and Production, which will fund projects in: Translational Genomics for Disease Resistance in Animals, Extension-driven Disease Prevention and Control in Animals, and Translational Genomics for Improved Fertility of Animals. The RFA related to climate change states that emphasis will be given to areas/systems that did not receive funding from the FY 2010 AFRI Climate Change Challenge Area RFA, which includes animal production systems, including ruminant, swine, and poultry production. Unfortunately, in the Sustainable Bioenergy RFA, NIFA acknowledged that animal waste had been suggested by stakeholders as a potential bioenergy feedstock, but the agency declined to include animal waste in the list of feedstocks for purposes of this RFA. Therefore, it does not appear that there will be opportunities for animal scientists to receive support through this RFA.

    More information about the AFRI program and the RFAs can be found on the NIFA website at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html NIFA is expected to release three more AFRI RFAs during the next several months, including the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Food Safety challenge areas and the AFRI Foundational Program. NIFA has also indicated that it will provide a series of webinars focused on the individual RFAs to provide an overview of the program areas.

    FASS Washington Representative Participates in FASS Board Meeting

    FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the fall FASS Board Meeting held at the FASS headquarters. Lowell presented an update on hot issues being addressed by Congress and the Administration, as well as the activities of the FASS Science Policy effort in Washington.

    July
    August 1, 2011

    House Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Agriculture Research

    On July 28th, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to examine USDA’s research programs. This was the latest in a series of hearings being conducted by the House Agriculture Committee in preparation for development of the 2012 Farm Bill. The witnesses at the hearing were the agency heads for the four USDA Research, Education and Economics agencies. Each of the witnesses discussed the role and structure of their respective agencies and highlighted selected programs. Full copies of witness testimony can be found by clicking the link on each name.

    Subcommittee Chair Tim Johnson (IL) talked about the importance of agricultural research in his opening statement and asserted that the only way to meet growing global demands for food is through technological advances. Chairman Johnson also asked some of the more probing questions of the hearing, including whether the Secretary or Under Secretary are involved in the decisions for competitive grants awarded under NIFA. Acting Director Chavonda Jacobs-Young assured the panel that NIFA programs are of high integrity and that awards are based on scientific merit and not politics. He also asked the panel about the federal role in data collection and requested clarification on the relationship between the Economic Research Service and the Office of the Chief Economist and how the roles of each organization differ.

    The Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Jim Costa (CA), also spoke about the value of science stating that agricultural research has been a core mission of USDA for 150 years and has helped American farmers thrive. Rep. Costa represents a part of California with significant fruit and vegetable production. As such, many of his questions centered around the need for research on specialty crops and the future of the Specialty Crops Research Initiative. He also questioned ARS Administrator Knipling about the proposed closure of the ARS facility in Shafter, CA.

    Other members of the Subcommittee in attendance were Rep. Thompson (PA) and Rep. Kissell (NC). Rep. Thompson spoke about the role of agriculture in helping address environmental challenges in the Chesapeake Bay and expressed concerns of over regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. He also asked about the Department’s activities in the area of agro-forestry and bioenergy. Rep. Kissell talked about the importance of biotechnology and asked the panel about concerns that the regulatory process is causing undue delays in the release of new genetically engineered products.

    Other than questions about the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, there was little discussion on the underlying statutory authorities of USDA’s research programs. However, it is anticipated that future discussions about the Research Title of the Farm Bill will more fully examine the transition from the old Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) to the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and policy decisions made by USDA relative to operations of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in JAM and PSA Annual Meetings

    FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel participated in a number of activities during the recent Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) and the Poultry Science Association annual meeting. Walt and Lowell met with the Boards of Directors of the respective societies regarding FASS Washington activities. Walt and Lowell also offered a FASS Science Policy Update to interested society members and staffed the FASS booth during JAM. They also gave a presentation during the PSA business meeting. All of these activities served as good opportunities to discuss FASS Washington efforts and answer questions about the FASS Science Policy program.

    ASAS Scientists Present Symposium to EPA

    FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith recently facilitated the scheduling of a symposium for ASAS scientists to discuss animal agriculture issues with EPA representatives. Eight key officials from the EPA Office of Water attended the symposium and heard presentations from Jim Pettigrew, Andy Cole, Ronny Moser and Brian Kerr. Pettigrew kicked off the symposium by providing some context surrounding animal agriculture’s role in meeting global food security needs. Andy Cole then spoke about the evolution of the beef and dairy industries, followed by Ronny Moser who spoke about the pig and poultry industries. Brian Kerr closed the symposium with a presentation on how feed management can help protect the environment. The presentations were well received by EPA staff and elicited thoughtful questions and discussion. EPA representatives indicated an interest in holding additional symposia in the future.

    FASS Supports Federal Employee Roles in Non-profit Organizations

    The FASS Science Policy Committee recently identified an opportunity to provide comments to the federal government regarding the participation of federal employees in non-profit organizations. Currently federal employees are able to participate as members of non-profit organizations such as scientific societies, but their ability to take leadership roles such as serving on Boards of Directors is restricted. The federal government has recently published a federal register notice inviting comments on the concept of allowing federal employees to take leadership roles within non-profit organizations. The comments submitted by FASS highlight the value that federal employees can bring to scientific societies and encourages the easing of restrictions to more openly allow federal employees to take leadership roles. Thanks to Deb Hamernik for her assistance and expertise in helping shape the FASS comments.

    Animal Agriculture Coalition Support FAIR 2012

    On July 27th, Lowell Randel participated in the monthly Animal Agriculture Coalition meeting. Lowell spoke to the group about the status of planning for FAIR 2012. There was much interest from AAC members in the progress made by both the FAIR Program and Executive Committees. AAC members unanimously voted to support FAIR 2012 and encourage AAC organizations to participate both in the programming and financing of the effort.

    FASS and Founding Societies Support AAC Letter on Biotechnology

    During consideration of the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill in the House of Representatives, an amendment was added that would prohibit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) from using its science based process to review an application for the approval of genetically engineered salmon. The amendment was added more as a measure to protect the domestic wild caught salmon industry then for concerns over GE salmon. This development is of concern because it restricts FDA’s ability to use science to evaluate GE applications. FASS is joining other AAC members in sending a letter to leaders in the House and Senate expressing concern over this provision. While FASS has not taken a position on the individual application for GE salmon, FASS has approved a policy statement on biotechnology and sent a letter to FDA supporting its science based process for evaluation.

    June
    July 5, 2011

    FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations

    On June 16th, the House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 2112, the agriculture appropriations bill for FY 2012. The bill was approved by a vote of 217 – 203, with no Democrats supporting the bill and 19 Republicans voting against passage. Democrats were critical of the legislation and argued that the cuts made in the bill go too far and would have sweeping negative impacts on the Department of Agriculture. The bill reduces discretionary spending by $2.7 billion (about 13 percent) from last year’s level, including significant reductions in funds for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agriculture Research Service (ARS). Funding for NIFA was reduced by approximately $194 million from 2011, including a reduction of approximately $35 million to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The ARS budget was cut by approximately $140 million from last year’s level.

    During floor consideration there were a number of amendments that would have significantly cut funding for research even further. For example, Rep. Chaffetz of Arizona offered an amendment to reduce funding for the Economic Research Service by $43 million; reduce funding for the National Agricultural Statistics Service by $85 million; reduce funding for salaries and expenses of the Agricultural Research Service by $650 million and reduce funding for Food For Peace Title II Grants by $1,040,198,000. The $1.8 billion in spending decreases would have been applied to the to the savings reduction account. Another amendment, offered by Rep. Jackson Lee of Texas, would have transferred $681 million from ARS to the Women, Infants and Children program. While there were a few minor amendments moving money into and out of research accounts, none of the amendments that would have dramatically reduced research funding were approved.

    Even as Congress deliberates future cuts in funding for NIFA and ARS, the impacts of recent reductions in funding for agriculture research are already being felt. USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Cathy Woteki addressed a Hill seminar sponsored by the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research on June 6th and discussed the budget challenges facing USDA. Dr. Woteki stated that the fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution was having severe impacts on USDA’s research programs. She explained how the spending cuts are causing the cancellation of construction projects, closing of up to 10 ARS facilities, and may lead to possible layoffs of Department personnel. Cuts like those included in the House passed version of the agriculture appropriations bill will only make things that much tougher for USDA’s research agencies.

    Action on agriculture appropriations now moves to the Senate, where the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee continues work to draft its version of FY 2012 spending for agriculture programs. FASS and the other founding societies will continue to actively work with coalitions such as the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Coalition to communicate the value of investment in agriculture research as the budget process moves forward.

    FASS Sponsored Roundtable Proceedings Available

    Proceedings from the FASS Sponsored Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources Research and Development Roundtable have recently been published are now available on-line by clicking here. The Roundtable was held on March 15, 2011 and focused on the value of collaborative research and development in the agricultural sciences. A webcast of the event is also available by clicking here.

    FASS Symposium Held June 6th

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Animal Drugs held its annual Spring Symposium on June 6th. The event was held at the offices of the American Farm Bureau Federation. FASS Washington Representatives assisted in the development of the agenda and helped secure speakers from federal agencies, Congress and industry. Over 50 people attended this year’s symposium. A copy of the symposium agenda can be found at: http://www.fass.org/page.asp?pageID=409

    Meeting Scheduled with EPA

    FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith, working with members of the ASAS Public Policy Committee, has scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The meeting will take place on July 26th and focus on water quality as it relates to animal agriculture. The meeting will provide an opportunity for EPA to learn more about the latest science and become more familiar with resources available from FASS and its founding societies.

    FASS Writes USDA Regarding NIFA Director Vacancy

    On June 20th, FASS President Don Beitz sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the vacancy of the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Dr. Beitz’s letter focuses on key qualities desirable for a NIFA Director including: experience in conducting and managing agricultural science, familiarity with the nation’s Land Grant Universities, support for the integration of research, education and extension, and recognition of the need for a balanced portfolio. NIFA’s first director, Roger Beachy, stepped down in May, and the Department is currently working to fill the position.

    May
    June 3, 2011

    FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations

    On May 24th, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a mark-up to consider the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The bill was approved and sent to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration. The full committee approved the bill on May 31st. As expected, funding for many programs in the bill were decreased, as Congress attempts to reduce federal spending. Funding for research through the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) includes significant decreases from the fiscal year 2011 levels. Funding for NIFA was reduced by approximately $194 million from 2011, including a reduction of approximately $35 million to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The Agriculture Research Service budget was cut by a total of $140 million from last year’s level. FASS and the founding societies continue to actively engage with coalitions such as the AFRI Coalition and N-CFAR coalition to demonstrate the value of investment in agricultural research. The bill will now be scheduled for floor consideration in the House of Representatives and is expected to be placed on the calendar in mid-June.

    Farm Bill Hearings

    The Senate Agriculture Committee held two hearings regarding reauthorization of the Farm Bill in May. On May 26th, the committee held a hearing in Washington, DC where the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and a number of other witnesses discussed farm bill policies. The value of agricultural research was mentioned on numerous occasions by both committee members and witnesses. The importance of research was also discussed in the field hearing held in Michigan. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow was quoted as saying: “one of the things I find important, both from the D.C. hearing and today is the recurring theme of research in terms of the future. I’ve heard it over and over again.” Expect additional hearings in both the House and Senate as Congress begins working on farm bill reauthorization.

    ASAS Zimblemann/Hafs Intern Selected

    The ASAS Zimblemann and Hafs Appreciation Clubs continue to support bringing animal science students to Washington for policy related internships. Ben Williamson, a graduate student in animal science from the University of Arkansas was selected as the intern for 2011. Ben will spend the summer of 2011 in Washington, DC working in both the private sector and Congress. During the first half of his internship, Ben will work for the National Milk Producers Federation. For the second half of his internship, Ben will work in the office of Congressman Steve Austria of Ohio. Ben grew up in Rep. Austria’s District and his family still farms there.

    FAIR 2012 Program Committee Meeting

    Planning for the upcoming FAIR 2012 process continued in May with the first meeting of the Program Committee. The Committee, comprised of representatives from academia, industry and government, came together on May 20-21 in Arlington, VA to discuss the process and planning for the upcoming FAIR 2012 event. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the meeting on May 21st.

    FASS Symposium Scheduled for June 6th

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Animal Drugs will be holding its annual Spring Symposium on June 6th. The event will be held at the offices of the American Farm Bureau Federation. FASS Washington Representatives continue to assist with the planning and engagement of speakers for the event. Speakers for the symposium include multiple representatives from the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Congressional Staff and representatives from industry and academia. More information on the symposium can be found at: http://www.fass.org/page.asp?pageID=409

    Upcoming Events

    June 6th
     
    June 6th
     
    N-CFAR Lunch and Learn Series featuring REE Under Secretary Woteki
    April
    May 5, 2011

    NIFA Director Roger Beachy Steps Down

    On Friday, April 29th, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics issued a memo stating the resignation of Dr. Roger Beachy as Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Dr. Beachy joined USDA shortly before the transition of the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) to NIFA. As the first NIFA Director, Beachy was tasked with leading the transition and standing up the new agency. He also shepherded the creation of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and championed the importance of the investment in competitively awarded research. USDA officials have begun their search for the next NIFA Director.

    FASS Washington Representative Addresses ADSA Board

    On April 11th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the American Dairy Science Association’s (ADSA) Board meeting. Lowell updated the ADSA Board on recent FASS Science Policy activities and current developments in Congress and the Administration.

    FASS Washington Representatives Continue Outreach to EPA

    As a follow-up to the ASAS Science Policy meetings in Washington last year, FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith has continued interaction with EPA and has organized a conference call to discuss with the EPA Water Branch the first in a series of possible briefings on animal agriculture issues.

    FASS Symposium Scheduled for June 6th

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Health and Animal Drugs began planning for its annual symposium in Washington, D.C. The event is scheduled to take place on June 6th at the American Farm Bureau Federation offices in Washington. FASS Washington Representatives are actively working with the committee to develop the agenda and secure speakers for the event. It is anticipated that speakers from FDA, USDA, industry and academia will come together to address critical issues in animal science such as antibiotic use in animals, food safety, and disease traceability.

    FASS Webinar on Biotechnology

    Planning is underway by the FASS Science Policy Committee to conduct a webinar on biotechnology. The webinar will provide a forum to highlight the recently adopted FASS Science Policy Statement on Biotechnology as well as to hear from a prominent FASS scientist and a representative from the Food and Drug Administration.

    March
    April 4, 2011

    FASS Co-Sponsored Roundtable on Agriculture R&D Held in Washington

    On March 15, 2011, the Federation of Animal Science Societies, along with the Farm Foundation, Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation, Institute of Food Technologists and the Agronomy, Crop and Soil Science Societies held the Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources R&D Round Table at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. The event was well attended, reaching a standing room only audience in Washington, as well as many participants who logged in for the webcast.

    Participants of the Roundtable heard from a combination of federal policy officials and scientists with the goal of highlighting the importance of collaboration in the area of agricultural research and development. Shere Abbott, Associate Director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy delivered the keynote address and asserted that science and technology were central to winning the future. Dr. Cathy Woteki, Under Secretary for the Research, Education and Economics Mission Area at the U.S. Department of Agriculture discussed the importance of partnerships and that USDA is striving to increase collaborations across government and with universities and the private sector to drive innovation. Eight case studies were presented showcasing collaborative research on issues ranging from the bovine genome to nutrition and the environment. The webcast for the event has been archived and is available free of charge (registration required). Those interested in watching the webcast should visit the following website:
    http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/farmfoundation/110315/

    FASS was very active in the planning and implementation of the event. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel served as a Co-Chair of the Program Committee and also moderated one of the Roundtable sessions. Representatives from over ten federal agencies, numerous scientific societies, land grant universities and other organizations related to agricultural science assisted in the development of the Roundtable program and helped ensure the event’s success.

    FASS and Founding Societies Join Efforts to Support Agriculture Research Funding

    Congress continues to debate funding levels for fiscal year 2011 appropriations, including how much will be invested in agricultural research. The House and Senate have yet to agree on a long term resolution to FY 2011 funding levels, leading to some discussions about a potential government shutdown. The House has passed a bill that would reduce overall government spending for FY 2011 by about $61 billion compared to FY 2010 levels. Under the House plan, agriculture research would be cut by significantly, with reductions of $217 million to NIFA and $185 million to ARS. The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed more modest decreases in overall government spending (approximately $10 billion), allowing for the preservation of much of the investment in agricultural research and even providing a modest increase to the AFRI program.

    FASS along with ADSA, ASAS and PSA, signed letters led by the AFRI Coalition and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research to Congress expressing the importance of agricultural research and the need to maintain the federal investment. Both letters expressed concern for the House passed version and that the Senate alternative better meets the critical need for investment in agricultural research. On March 9th, the full Senate considered both the House passed version and the Senate Appropriations Committee version of the FY 2011 continuing resolution, but neither received enough support for passage. FASS will continue to work with like-minded organizations to support the investment in agricultural research as Congress works to resolve funding for FY 2011.

    ARS/NIFA Stakeholder Meeting on Food Animal Production Held in Baltimore

    National Program Staff for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Agriculture Research Service convened a group of stakeholders on March 29-30 2011 to gain input on pressing research needs in the area of food animal production. NIFA and ARS held a similar workshop in 2006, and this program was designed to assist the agencies plan for future programs. The program included multiple breakout sessions and provided a good opportunity for information exchange between stakeholders and agency officials. Results of the meeting will be compiled and displayed on the ARS and NIFA websites.

    FASS Washington Representative Participates in FASS Board Meeting

    FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith participated in the spring 2011 FASS Board meeting in Champaign, IL. Walt provided an update to the board on current FASS Science Policy activities, as well as hot issues being debated in Washington.

    FASS Washington Representatives Continue Outreach to EPA

    During fall 2010, leaders from ASAS came to Washington and met with a number of different federal agencies, including EPA. As follow-up to these meetings, Washington Representative Walt Smith has reached out to EPA regarding the possibility of conducting educational programs for EPA officials on issues related to the animal sciences. Planning is underway for additional meetings with EPA, likely starting with issues related to food animal production and water quality.

    FASS Washington Representative Co-Authors AAAS Chapter on 2012 Research Budget

    For fiscal year 2011, the American Association for the Advancement of Science added a new chapter to its annual research and development budget report that highlighted cross cutting federal investments in agriculture related sciences. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel served on the writing team for FY 2011 and has continued his participation with the writing team for FY 2012. The writing team completed its draft during March 2011 and is expected to be published May 2011.

    FASS Webinar on Biotechnology

    Planning is underway by the FASS Science Policy Committee to conduct a webinar in late April 2011 regarding biotechnology policy. The webinar will provide a forum to highlight the recently adopted FASS Science Policy Statement on Biotechnology as well as to hear from a prominent FASS scientist and a representative from the Food and Drug Administration.

    January/February
    March 3, 2011

    FASS Provides Comments to PCAST

    On Friday, January 07, 2011, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel presented oral comments to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) regarding the importance of research in the animal sciences. PCAST is comprised of prominent scientists and engineers and meets a number of times each year regarding issues related to science and technology policy.

    Agriculture research was a featured topic at the January 7th meeting, where PCAST heard from Under Secretary Woteki about her vision for USDA’s science programs. The meeting also included a time for public comments, where Lowell Randel spoke to the group about the need for increased investments in agriculture research. Randel cited growing global food security demands as a key issue in the need for more federal investment, and that the animal sciences can play an important role in developing technologies that will meet the needs of a growing world population. He also noted that the animal sciences have the capacity to contribute to other priority areas such as economic growth, human and animal health, climate change, and environmental sustainability. Randel also expressed appreciation for the Obama Administration’s support for increases in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the need for increased investments in base or “formula funds” and USDA intramural programs. This is one of a continuing series of efforts by FASS in Washington to demonstrate the importance of investment in the animal sciences. More information about PCAST and the January 7th meeting can be found by clicking here. A full version of the PowerPoint presentation provided by Dr. Woteki and Dr. Beachy can be found by clicking PowerPoint Presentation. A video of the full event can be viewed from the PCAST archives by clicking archived.

    Participation at the Poultry Science Association Mid-year Meeting

    FASS Washington representative Lowell Randel attended the PSA mid-year meetings and presented an update of the FASS-SPC activities and current events in Washington. Topics ranged from completed policy statements and those under consideration to current “hot topics” such as the election, food safety legislation and the current budget situation.

    FASS Animal Care Committee

    The FASS Animal Care Committee met in Washington on the January 31, 2011 to address issues of importance including issues related to the adoption of the FASS Ag Guide. FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith attended with issues discussed ranging from webinars and training videos to the certification of training by FASS. Of particular importance was a discussion on adoption of the Ag Guide for use government-wide. In attendance for the discussion were representatives from USDA, NIH, ILAR, BIO, AAALAC, Farm Bureau, Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, the Animal Agriculture Coalition and the Animal Ag Alliance.

    National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) releases Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) request for applications

    On January 7th NIFA announced the AFRI-RFAs for funding opportunity to support research, education and extension in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences. This first is for the AFRI Foundational Program. Projects will be funded by this program to address the six AFRI priority areas. The six priority areas include:

    • Plant health and production and plant products;
    • Animal health and production and animal products;
    • Food safety, nutrition and health;
    • Renewable energy, natural resources and environment;
    • Agriculture systems and technology; and
    • Agriculture economics and rural communities.

    Over the next several months NIFA anticipates releasing six more RFAs through the AFRI program. Five RFAs will continue to support societal challenge areas where research, education, and extension can achieve significant and measurable outcomes with areas including: childhood obesity prevention, agricultural adaptation to climate variables, sustainable bioenergy, food safety and global food security. After the release of the initial 6 RFAs, an additional one, to fund opportunities for pre- and postdoctoral fellowship grants, will be announced. Click here for more information on the AFRI program.

    There is some concern over the future on these RFAs should additional funding not be approved for the FY2011 fiscal year.

    FASS Washington Representative Attends NIFA Stakeholder Meeting

    On January 19th, FASS Washington Representative Walt Smith attended a stakeholder briefing held by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The meeting provided an opportunity for NIFA Director Roger Beachy to discuss the recent restructuring of NIFA and new and upcoming RFAs. The forum also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to engage Dr. Beachy in dialogue about NIFA policies and the outlook for future programs.

    Animal Agriculture Priority Setting

    An animal agriculture research priority setting process similar to the FAIR 2002 process has been undertaken by FASS. To lead this effort Dr. Deb Hamernik of the University of Nebraska Lincoln has been named Chair. FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel have worked closely with the Animal Agriculture Coalition to solicit participation and encourage active involvement with the process. The Executive Committee has been formed with individuals representing various areas of animal agriculture assuming positions and has already met twice by teleconference to discuss the scope and process for setting priorities for animal agriculture research.

    Executive Committee members named include:

    Deb Hamernik, Chair
    William P. Weiss, ADSA
    Nancy M. Cox, ASAS
    Dave Edwards, Biotechnology Industry Organization
    Mark Knorr, National Pork Board
    Betsy Booren, American Meat Institute
    William Saylor, PSA
    Ashley Shelton Morgan, AVMA
    Mary E. Delany, FASS Science Policy
    James W. Oltjen, FASS Liaison
    Steven M Kappes, ARS
    Adele M. Turzillo, NIFA
    Lowell Randel, FASS Science Policy
    Walt Smith, FASS Science Policy
    Jamie Ritter, ex officio, FASS Managing Director

    A Program Committee is also in the process of being formed that will help direct the planning details for an event that will likely take place in late 2011 or early 2012.

    FASS Cosponsored Roundtable on Agriculture, Food Nutrition and Natural Resources

    As has been previously reported, FASS is cosponsoring an event with the Farm Foundation, Riley Memorial Foundation, Institute of Food Technologists, and the Agronomy, Crop and Soil Science Societies to highlight exemplary collaborative research in the agricultural sciences. The event will take place on March 15th in Washington, DC. For those not in DC on the 15th who would like to watch the event, you can register for a free webcast. More details and registration information for the webcast can be found here.

    FY 2011 Appropriations Still Uncertain

    The fate of FY 2011 Appropriations for agricultural research is still uncertain, but it appears that cuts to current programs levels are likely to occur. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would reduce overall government spending for FY 2011 by about $61 billion compared to FY 2010 levels. Agriculture research would be cut by approximately $246 million, taking away earmarks, about $34 million from AFRI and reducing the Agriculture Research Service budget, as well. FASS and the founding societies have joined an AFRI Coalition effort to communicate the value of agricultural research and the need to at least preserve current funding levels for AFRI. The House and Senate continue to debate funding levels for FY 2011 and there is some potential for a government shutdown, if the House, Senate and Obama Administration cannot come to an agreement.

    President’s FY 2012 Budget Unveiled

    President Obama released his FY 2012 budget proposal in February and it contains an overall decrease in agricultural research spending. The NIFA budget is requested at $1.4 billion, which is about $122 million less than 2011 estimates. Many of these cuts come from the elimination of earmarks and zeroing out most of the integrated activities programs. There are a few targeted increases, such as the proposed increase in the AFRI program from $262 million to $324 million. The President’s budget requests $1.2 billion for the Agriculture Research Service, which is a decrease of about $113 million. More details on the President’s budget for USDA can be found here.

    FASS Board Adopts Policy Statement on Biotechnology

    On February 10th, the FASS Board of Directors approved a FASS Science Policy Statement on Biotechnology. The statement asserts that policies for acceptance of biotechnology should be based on science that that the adoption of modern biotechnology is critical to meet the growing demands for sustainable food production. A full copy of the policy statement can be found on the FASS website. Plans are underway to develop a webinar on biotechnology during the spring of 2011.

    Selected Upcoming Events

    March 15
    Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources R&D Roundtable in Washington, DC (FASS Cosponsored event)
    March 29-30
    ARS/NIFA Stakeholder Meeting on Food Animal Production in Baltimore, MD

    2010

    December
    January 3, 2011

    Congress Passes Food Safety Reform

    After almost two years of debates, votes, Constitutional issues and political posturing, Congress has approved a sweeping food safety bill that will give the Food and Drug Administration significant new authorities. S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was largely thought to be dead after the Senate approved the bill with revenue raising provisions that House members asserted violated the Constitution’s requirement that all tax legislation originate in the House of Representatives. To remedy the situation, the House chose to attach the food safety bill to a yearlong Continuing Resolution and send it back to the Senate. However, the Senate chose to go with a short term continuing resolution, funding the government until March 2011 leaving the fate of the food safety bill uncertain. After some last minute negotiations, the Senate was able to revive the bill and approve it by unanimous consent on December 19th. The House followed suit and passed the bill on December 21st. The bill is now awaiting President Obama’s signature, which will likely occur in early 2011 when he returns back to Washington.

    The bill represents the largest overhaul of the FDA’s food safety authorities since the 1930’s. Some of the major provisions of the bill include:

    • Inspections of Records –If there is a reasonable probability that a food, or a related article of food, will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be authorized to access relevant records for that food and any related article of food that may be similarly contaminated.
    • Registration of Food Facilities –Food facilities as defined in the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) must register with FDA and renew registration biennially.
    • Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls –All registered facilities must identify known or reasonably foreseeable hazards and implement preventive controls to significantly minimize or prevent those identified hazards. Those subject to these requirements must have a written plan describing their hazard analysis and preventive controls, which shall be made available to FDA upon request.
    • Authority to Collect Fees –Allows FDA to assess fees for compliance failures (recalls and re-inspections) and for participation in a voluntary qualified importer program.
    • Targeting Inspection Resources –Requires FDA to allocate food inspection resources according to the risk profile of the facility and other important criteria. Facilities deemed "high risk" would be inspected no less that once every two years. "Low risk" facilities would be inspected no less than once every four years. The legislation gives FDA general direction on risk characteristics, but the agency will have some discretion as it defines the risk categories.
    • Enhancing Tracking and Tracing of Food and Recordkeeping –Requires FDA, in coordination with the food industry, to establish pilot projects to test and evaluate new methods for rapidly and effectively tracking and tracing food products to prevent and mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks. FDA shall, in consultation with USDA, establish a product tracing system within the FDA based on these pilots, and shall develop additional recordkeeping requirements for foods determined to be "high risk."
    • Mandatory Recall Authority –Gives FDA the authority to order food recalls when firms fail to voluntarily recall products that are either adulterated or contain undeclared allergens and which will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.
    • Foreign Supplier Verification Program –Requires importers to perform food safety supplier verification activities to mitigate risks in imported foods and ensure that imported foods are as safe as those manufactured and sold in the United States. Importation of a food by an importer who does not have such a program in place is prohibited. Importers already in compliance with existing seafood, juice, and low-acid canned foods regulations are exempted from this requirement.
    • Voluntary Qualified Importer Program –Allows importers to qualify for expedited review and importation of food if they go above and beyond the minimum standards to ensure the safety of imported food.
    • Authority to Require Import Certifications for Food –Allows FDA to require certification or other assurance of safety for high-risk food imports. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider public health factors when requiring certifications for high risk foods, including (1) known safety risks of the food, (2) known safety risks of the country of origin, (3) inadequate government controls in country of origin, and (4) information submitted by the country of origin related to the quality of it government controls. FDA may refuse admission of a food import lacking required certification.
    • Inspection of Foreign Food Facilities –Allows FDA to enter into agreements and arrangements with foreign governments to facilitate the inspection of foreign facilities. Prohibits entry of food from a foreign facility or country that fails to permit inspection by the United States. Also authorizes the Department of Commerce, in coordination with HHS, to assess foreign facilities that import seafood into the United States and provide technical assistance.

    Congress Passes Short Term Continuing Resolution

    Just before closing the doors on the 111th Congress, the House and Senate agreed to a short-term continuing resolution that will fund the Government through March 4, 2011. This came after attempts to pass a yearlong continuing resolution and an omnibus spending bill, both which would have funded the government through the end of the fiscal year. The passage of a short-term continuing resolution means that the new 112th Congress will be responsible for crafting package that will keep the government running through September 2011.

    With the House changing leadership from Democrat to Republican, there will be efforts to reduce spending through for FY 2011, and future fiscal years. Republican leaders in the House and Senate are already talking about finding ways to cut the budget by $100 billion for FY 2011 with the ultimate goal of returning to 2008 spending levels. In addition to cutting overall spending, Republicans have vowed to eliminate earmarks for at least the next two years.

    All of these factors could have a significant impact on agriculture research funding. Pressure will be mounting to cut the overall cost of government, including the amounts spent on agriculture. And, agriculture research accounts are filled with dozens of earmarks including over $130 million within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). With the current anti-earmark environment, researchers who have depended on earmarked funding will likely need to identify alternative funding sources.

    When Congress eliminated earmarks in 2007, funding from earmarks was transferred into the so called "formula funds" for land grant universities, thus preserving the overall investment in agriculture research. Facing the prospect that earmarks may be eliminated, FASS, FASS founding societies, and like-minded agriculture organizations sent letters to the House and Senate urging Congress to preserve agriculture research funding, in the event earmarks were removed. The yearlong continuing resolution approved by the House in late 2010 followed a similar strategy to 2007, but ran into a roadblock in the Senate. This was a positive sign that earmark funding would stay in the agriculture research budget. However, given pressures to reduce overall spending in 2011, it is unclear how the new Congress will treat funds that have historically gone to earmarks.

    Nominations Collected for FASS Cosponsored Roundtable

    FASS, along with the Farm Foundation, Riley Memorial Foundation and the Institute of Food Technologists are cosponsoring the Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources R&D Roundtable on March 15, 2011. FASS Washington Representative, Lowell Randel is serving as a Co-Chair for the Program Advisory Committee. Nominations for the event closed in December and over 60 nominations were received, including strong representation from the animal sciences.

    FASS Washington Representative Attends REE Stakeholder Meeting

    On December 3rd, USDA held a stakeholders meeting for the Research, Education and Economics Mission Area. Top leadership from USDA was present, including Secretary Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Merrigan and REE Under Secretary Woteki. The presence of these top officials was a good indication of the support for agricultural research within the highest levels of USDA. Dr. Woteki used the opportunity to discuss her vision for USDA’s science programs and outlined five key challenges for the mission area. They were:

    1. Articulate the scope and capacity of REE agencies
    2. Identify key priorities for agricultural science
    3. Develop guidelines for investment in agricultural science
    4. Enhance public awareness of agricultural science
    5. Better communicate research successes and impact on society.

    Dr. Woteki also stressed the importance of partnerships with land grant universities, state and private organizations and other federal agencies. She acknowledged the budget challenges that lay ahead and that it will be important to communicate the value of agricultural science and better prioritize to maximize the effectiveness of limited resources.

    National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (N-CFAR) Board Meeting Held

    FASS Washington Representative, and N-CFAR Board Member, Lowell Randel attended the N-CFAR Board Meeting on December 16th. REE Under Secretary Woteki and Peter Schmeissner of the Office of Science and Technology Policy addressed the Board. Dr. Woteki’s remarks were consistent with her presentation at the REE Stakeholder meeting, stressing the need for partnerships and prioritization to meet future challenges in agricultural science. Dr. Schmeissner spoke about OSTP’s role in coordinating the federal government’s overall science effort and the cross cutting nature of agriculture.

    FASS Washington Representative to Give Oral Comments at PCAST Meeting

    The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology will be meeting on January 7, 2011 to address a number of science policy issues. Agriculture research will be on the agenda and USDA REE Under Secretary Cathy Woteki is scheduled to participate. A limited number of spots are available for public comment at the meeting, and Lowell Randel, FASS Washington Representative will be providing comments on behalf of FASS stressing the importance of the animal sciences and the need for increased investments. More information on the PCAST meeting can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast/meetings/future

    Prioritizing Animal Agriculture Research

    During the month of December, there was much activity surrounding the organization of an effort to develop research priorities for animal agriculture. The FASS Board approved the formation of an Executive Committee to embark on a process similar to FAIR 95 and FAIR 2002 to bring together the animal agriculture community to identify research priorities. The formation of the Executive Committee is underway and will include representatives from the FASS Founding Societies, FASS Washington Representatives and representatives from Animal Agriculture Coalition member organizations. It is anticipated that the Executive Committee will begin the planning process in early 2011.

    Selected Upcoming Events

    January 7th
    President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology meeting in Washington, DC (FASS to provide oral comments.)
    March 15th
    Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources R&D Roundtable in Washington, DC (FASS Cosponsored event)
    March 29-30
    ARS/NIFA Stakeholder Meeting on Food Animal Production in Baltimore, MD
    November
    December 2, 2010

    Impact of 2010 Mid-Term Elections

    The November 2010 mid-term elections produced an historic shift in power in the House of Representatives. Republicans gained at least 63 seats (one yet to be determined) in the House to retake control of that chamber. Democrats held on to control in the Senate, but Republicans gained six seats, to put the margin of power at 53-47. As a result of the election, there will be a divided government where some are predicting gridlock.

    Spending

    One of the major issues that Republicans used during the campaign was reducing spending. This could impact funding available for agricultural research. Congress has yet to pass the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011, and it is possible that another continuing resolution will be approved to move the debate into next calendar year for the new Congress to address. It is also possible that a yearlong continuing resolution will be approved, keeping spending at 2010 levels. No matter the mechanism employed, major increased to agricultural research programs may be difficult to achieve in the current climate.

    There is also an effort to eliminate earmarks. Republicans in the House have stated their policy will be a two year moratorium on earmarks. Republican leaders in the Senate have joined in that policy, but Senate Democrats are defending the ability to Congressional direct spending. Should no earmarks be included in the agriculture appropriations bill, it is not clear what would happen with the dollars currently slated for earmark projects. In 2007, when no earmarks were allowed, the funding was allocated to the formula funding accounts for Land Grant Universities. It is not clear whether Congress would follow this precedent, or increase funding to other programs, such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

    Farm Bill

    Prospects for the Farm Bill are also impacted by the outcome of the election. Securing additional resources for programs such as farm subsidies will likely be more difficult in this climate of budget cutting. It also appears that the timeline for Farm Bill action will be impacted. Outgoing Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson, had hoped to complete action on the Farm Bill during 2011. However, incoming Chairman Frank Lucas has indicated that additional hearings are needed and that action on the Farm Bill will not likely occur until 2012.

    Senate Paves Way for Consideration of Food Safety Bill

    On Wednesday, November 17th, the United States Senate voted to proceed with consideration of S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Senators voted 75-24 to invoke cloture on the bill and end a filibuster led by Senator Tom Coburn who has raised concerns about the cost of the legislation. Adding to complications have been amendments such as Senator Diane Feinstein's effort to ban bisphenol-A (BPA), a plastic used in many food containers, and Senator John Tester's desire to exempt small producers from the bill's requirements.

    Sen. Feinstein dropped her attempt to add the BPA provision because of industry opposition that threatened to derail the coalition of industry and consumer groups that has been forged to support the bill. Sen. Tester, meanwhile, was able to reach a compromise that would exempt small producers and processors from the regulations provided that the average annual value of all food sold by the facility during the previous 3 year period was less than $500,000, the majority of the food sold by that facility was sold directly to consumers, restaurants, or grocery stores (as opposed to 3rd party food brokers) and were in the same state where the facility sold the food or within 275 miles of the facility.

    Despite the compromise on the Tester language, and Sen. Feinstein's dropping of her amendment, the Senate was unable to complete action before leaving for Thanksgiving. Several amendments remain for consideration, including an effort by Sen. Coburn to ban all earmarks until 2013. Supporters of the bill are hopeful that the Senate will approve the bill the week after Thanksgiving.

    In anticipation of Senate action, the Obama Administration signaled its support for the bill through a Statement of Administration Policy, issued on 16 November. The House passed version of food safety reform, approved in July 2009, has some significant differences from its Senate counterpart. Normally, there would be a conference between the House and Senate to reconcile differences; however, given the short time left in the lame duck session of Congress, it unlikely the House and Senate would have time to complete a traditional conference. Therefore, the House will be under some pressure to accept the Senate passed version "as-is", in order to get the bill to the President for signature before the 111th Congress ends. Current Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman, has signaled that the House may be willing to accept the Senate bill. Should action not be completed this year, the process would have to start over again with the new Congress in 2011.

    Call for Nominations for FASS Sponsored Roundtable on Agriculture R&D

    FASS, along with the Farm Foundation NPF, Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation, Institute of Food Technologists, and the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies in collaboration with Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area, USDA, Forest Service, and National Agricultural Research, Education, Extension, and Economics Advisory Board, USDA are hosting a roundtable to showcase exemplary collaborations in agricultural research.

    The R&D roundtable will integrate the presentations of exemplary case studies with presentations by science policy officials to assemble information to be used to (1) raise the profile of agriculture, food, and natural resources related R&D throughout the federal government and beyond and (2) highlight the characteristics of highly productive collaborations in order to enhance the collaboration between performers of R&D whether they be associated with universities, federal agencies, or other entities. In addition to the sharing that occurs at the roundtable, a summary of the roundtable and the proceedings will be available on a web site(s) and in print form. Also, the results of the roundtable are expected to be the subject of a series of presentations and briefings.

    Nominations of exemplary case studies are to include the following information:

    Title
    Collaborators
    Description of Project
    Primary Sources of Funding
    Duration
    Accomplishments
    Impact
    Future Plans (if applicable)
    Contact (name, address, phone and e-mail)
    Key Investigators
    Selected References
    Web Sites

    Completed nominations are to be submitted electronically using the following link to the nomination form: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22BCW3D8BSZ on or before December 17, 2010. Case studies will address one or more of the following topics: production (e.g., competiveness, markets, crops, livestock, energy, climate change, sustainability, agroforestry), food (e.g., safety, security), nutrition (e.g., childhood obesity, healthy eating, school meals, education), natural resources (e.g., soil, water, air, wildlife, fish, plants, pollinators, forests, rangelands), or rural-urban linkages (e.g., urban agriculture, community supported agriculture, farmers markets, conservation education) and will involve one or more USDA agencies and preferably one or more other federal agencies. The nature of collaborations with state and local organizations and/or user groups will also be a factor in selection of case studies. Results that are expected to have impact and that will benefit a wide spectrum of producers/landowners/managers/educators/communities/citizens are of particular interest.

    The principal contacts for the case studies selected for presentation and the principal contacts for outstanding case studies to be distributed in print form at the roundtable will be informed in January, 2011. Assistance with travel will be provided to the presenters of case studies.

    FASS Washington Representative Speaks to ARPAS

    On November 9th, FASS Washington Representative, Lowell Randel spoke to the Washington, DC Area Chapter of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. Lowell provided the group with an update on FASS science policy activities, as well as current issues with Congress and the Administration.

    FASS Science Policy Committee Moving Forward with Policy Statements

    The FASS Science Policy continues work on additional policy statements including: biotechnology, water quality, climate change, international agriculture development, and bioenergy.

    October
    November 2, 2010

    FASS Holds Webinar on Antibiotics

    On October 20th, the FASS Science Policy program hosted a webinar entitled: “Antibiotics in Animals in People”. The webinar was led by Dr. Jim Pettigrew, a member of the FASS Science Policy Committee and lead coordinator for the recently approved FASS policy statement on antibiotics. Dr. Pettigrew provided introductory remarks and also summarized the FASS science policy statement on antibiotics. Dr. Billy Hargis, a poultry scientist from the University of Arkansas gave an overview of the issues and science surrounding the antibiotics debate. The webinar concluded with Dr. Bill Flynn from the Food and Drug Administration discussing the agency’s perspectives on antibiotic use in animals, including its recently released guidance on judicious use. The webinar was well-attended, reaching 100 people from academia, industry and government. The FASS Science Policy Committee is currently considering additional topics for webinars in coming months.

    FASS Supports FDA Science-Based Process

    On October 13, 2010, FASS President Don Beitz sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in support of the agency’s science-based New Animal Drug (NAD) regulatory framework for the regulation of genetically engineered animals. FDA’s Guidance 187: Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable Recombinant DNA Constructs has recently come under fire, particularly as it is being applied to genetically engineered salmon. The letter from FASS signals support for the FDA’s science-based process, without commenting on the merits of any specific application.

    FASS Writes NIH in Support of FASS Ag Guide

    In September 2010, FASS sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Snyder of the National Institutes of Health regarding the FASS Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Teaching and Research and the ILAR Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. The letter details concerns that the ILAR guide has numerous technical flaws related to the care of agricultural animals and that the FASS Guide provides a stronger scientific basis for making animal care decisions for agricultural animals. The letter further urges the NIH Public Health Service (PHS) to recognizes the FASS Guide as the most scientifically valid current resource document for agricultural animal care and to not accept the ILAR Guide as a required document for agricultural animals in biomedical or agricultural research. In October, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition sent similar letters to NIH urging support of the FASS Ag Guide.

    ASAS Executive Committee and Public Policy Committee Meeting in Washington

    Members of the American Society of Animal Science Executive Committee and Public Policy Committee met in Washington on October 25-26. In addition to Executive Committee business, the group took advantage of being in Washington by meeting with a number of key federal agencies. Meetings were conducted with the Food and Drug Administration, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Agency for International Development. The meetings provided a good forum to build relationships with agency representatives and share relevant FASS science policy statements. The group also had detailed discussions about energizing an effort to conduct a new “Food Animal Integrated Research” (FAIR) type process to identify collective priorities for animal science research. This is seen as important and timely, given recent changes to USDA research programs at NIFA and the impending development of the next Farm Bill.

    September
    September 30, 2010

    Senate Confirms Dr. Catherine Woteki as USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics

    On September 16, 2010, the United States Senate voted to confirm Dr. Catherine Woteki as the new USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. The position had been vacant for several months, after the previous Under Secretary, Rajiv Shah accepted the position as Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    Dr. Woteki was nominated by President Obama on April 22nd and her confirmation has received bi-partisan support. This will be Dr. Woteki's second stint at REE, as she served as REE Deputy Under Secretary during the Clinton Administration. She also served as the first Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. In addition to her government experience, Dr. Woteki has worked in the university community and the private sector. She most recently held the position of Global Director of Scientific Affairs for Mars, Incorporated and previously served as the Dean of Agriculture at Iowa State University.

    In addition to the confirmation of Dr. Woteki, USDA recently named Dr. Ann Bartuska as Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics (REE). Dr. Bartuska had been serving as Acting Under Secretary for REE pending the confirmation of Dr. Woteki.

    Before joining the REE Mission Area, Dr. Bartuska served as Deputy Chief for Research & Development at the U.S. Forest Service, a position she held since January 2004. Dr. Bartuska also served as Acting USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. She also has private sector experience, having been the Executive Director of the Invasive Species Initiative in the Nature Conservancy.

    At the same time the Senate confirmed Dr. Catherine Woteki, it also moved to confirm Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. President Obama had given Dr. Hagen a recess appointment in August, but with the Senate's confirmation, that will no longer be needed.

    FASS Policy Statements Completed

    The FASS Board and Science Policy Committee put the finishing touches on three policy statements, which are now available on the FASS website. The new policy statements are entitled Farm Animal Well-Being, Nutrition and Health Provided by Animal Products, and Preserving the Benefits of Antibiotics for People and Animals. With the completion of these policy statements, the Science Policy is now exploring new topics for the development of additional FASS policy statements.

    FASS Webinar Being Planned

    The FASS Science Policy Committee is currently planning a webinar regarding antibiotic use in farm animals. The webinar is tentatively scheduled for October 20, 2010 between 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT. Speakers will include prominent scientists in the area of antibiotics, as well as representatives from the Food and Drug Administration.

    FASS to Cosponsor Event Showcasing Value of Agricultural Research

    FASS has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Farm Foundation, Riley Memorial Foundation, and the Institute of Food Technologists to plan and conduct a forum to showcase exemplary collaborations in agricultural research. FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel will serve as a co-chair of the event's Program Committee. Organizers are targeting for the event to be held in spring 2011.

    FASS, Founding Societies Sign AFRI Coalition Letters

    FASS and the three founding societies, ADSA, ASAS and PSA, all signed recent letters drafted by the AFRI Coalition in support of funding for the AFRI competitive grants program. Letters were sent to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees expressing appreciation for proposed increases in the AFRI program. The House version of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes $312 million for AFRI, while the Senate version has $310 million. Both the House and the Senate versions of the bill represent significant increases over current year funding of $262 million.

    While the work of the House and Senate suggests the possibility of increases to the AFRI program, the final outcome of the appropriations process is not clear. Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution that would fund the government at current levels until after the mid-term elections. Depending on the outcomes of the elections in November, there is a possibility that Congress will pass a year-long continuing resolution, which would likely hold all programs to their 2010 funding level.

    Food Safety Legislation Stalled in Senate

    Comprehensive food safety legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration significant new authorities continues to be stalled in the Senate. The House passed its version of the bill in 2009, but the Senate has not been able to bring its version up for consideration by the full Senate. In the wake of the recent major egg recall, there was a renewed effort to move the legislation. However, even with bipartisan support, the Senate was not able to move the bill.

    Several challenges remain to reach final action in the Senate. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had raised concerns about the legislation that prevented consideration of the bill prior to the mid-term elections in November. Coburn's primary concerns are with the cost of the bill.

    In addition to Senator Coburn's concerns, there are a number of problematic amendments that further complicate action on the bill. Senator Diane Feinstein of California has been pushing an amendment that would ban bisphenol-A, a common plastic additive known as BPA, from baby products. This amendment has raised concerns by some in industry and has threatened to break up what has been a rare coalition between industry and consumer groups. Senator John Tester of Montana has also been pushing a controversial amendment that would exempt small, local and organic producers from some of the bill's requirements. These two amendments have been the subject of many negotiations over the past several months, but it appears that a compromise on these issues has yet to be reached.

    Should Congress not complete work on food safety legislation before the new Congress begins next year, the process would have to start over again in the new Congress.

    Preview of Selected Upcoming Events:

    October 20– FASS webinar on antibiotics (tentative)

    October 20– FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Portland

    October 25-26– American Society of Animal Science Executive Committee and Public Policy Committee meetings in Washington, D.C.

    August
    September 2, 2010

    FASS Washington Representative Participates in APLU Planning Session

    On August 5th and 6th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Academic Programs Summit Planning Committee meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to begin planning for a summit to be held in summer 2011 regarding curriculum reform. FASS has been asked to play a role in the planning to ensure that the perspectives of the scientific society community and the animal sciences are represented. Lowell will be serving on the Engagement/Outreach to Industry and Professional Societies Subcommittee. This group will work toward engaging industry and professional societies in discussions and implementation of curricula reform.

    Dr. Elisabeth Hagen Appointed USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety

    On August 19th, President Obama made four recess appointments, including Dr. Elisabeth Hagen as the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The top spot for food safety at USDA had been vacant since 2009. Dr. Hagan was nominated for the position in January 2010 and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved her nomination in July 2010. However, she had not received final confirmation by the full Senate. While Dr. Hagen's nomination was not seen as controversial, hers was one of many nominations awaiting Senate action, including that of Dr. Catherine Woteki as USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

    In his announcement of the recess appointments, President Obama stated that "At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent," Obama said. "Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people." Presidents have the authority to make recess appointments during periods when the Senate is not in session. Unless subsequently confirmed by the Senate, recess appointments are only valid through the end of the next session of Congress, so Dr. Hagan's appointment would be valid through 2011.

    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the following statement about Dr. Hagan's appointment: "There is no higher priority at USDA than ensuring that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply, and Dr. Hagen's background as the Chief Medical Officer and senior executive within USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will enable her to successfully lead the effort to develop and execute the agency's scientific and public health agenda, and continue to build the coordination with public health partners at federal, state, and local level needed to achieve the objectives of President Obama's Food Safety Working Group."

    In addition to her experience at USDA, Dr. Hagan has also worked in the private sector and academis. She holds a M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a B.S. from Saint Joseph's University.

    FASS Policy Statements Nearing Completion

    The FASS Science Policy Committee met via conference call on August 30th. One of the primary agenda items was further consideration of policy statements in the areas of animal welfare, antibiotics and nutrition. It is anticipated that these policy statements will be finalized in the near future. Plans are underway to conduct a FASS sponsored webinar on the issue of antibiotics, once the policy statement is completed. The webinar will likely take place in October 2010.

    Preview of Selected Upcoming Events:

    September 16Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century, Washington, DC

    September 22Future Trends in Animal Agriculture Symposium on Animal Welfare, Washington, DC

    September 28-30BIO Livestock Biotech Summit, Sioux Falls, SD

    October 20FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Portland

    July
    August 2, 2010

    House and Senate Mark-up 2011 Agriculture Appropriations

    On June 30th, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee met to consider the FY 2011 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Funding for research was cut in the bill by $9.892 million from the FY10 levels, but still represented a $33.749 million increase over the President’s budget request. Total funding for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) was 1% higher than last year at $1.36 billion. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program received $312 million. This number is shy of the $429 million requested in the President’s budget, but reflects a 19% increase over the FY2010 level. Funding for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) was down three percent from last year, for a total of $1.2 billion.

    On July 15th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the 2011 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The Senate bill includes $2.818 billion for USDA research agencies. This is a decrease of $20 million below the fiscal year 2010 enacted level, and $24 million above the President's request. NIFA was funded at $1.31 billion, with $310 million going to AFRI. ARS received $1.251 billion.

    The closeness in numbers for AFRI between the House and Senate bills gives a good indication of about how much funding will be allocated to AFRI in 2011 (between $310 and $312 million – up from $262 million in 2010). However, with the fiscal year ending on September 30th, and the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections, it is not likely that the 2011 Agriculture Appropriations bill will be completed before November. Expect some type of continuing resolution that will run at least until after the November elections.

    FASS Washington Representatives will continue to work with like minded partners such as the AFRI Coalition and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research in support of increases to USDA research programs.

    NIFA Director Roger Beachy Speaks at JAM in Denver

    Director of NIFA, Roger Beachy addressed a standing room only crowd at the recent Joint Annual Meeting in Denver. Dr. Beachly discussed with the group his vision for NIFA, with particular focus on the AFRI program. He spoke about opportunities for the animal sciences to contribute to the challenge areas that have been identified, and talked about the recent changes to the AFRI program.

    Dr. Beachy fielded a number of questions from animal scientists in attendance, resulting in a very spirited discussion. Most of the questions centered around the 2010 AFRI RFAs. Attendees expressed concerns with the challenge areas identified in the latest RFAs, and the fact that many of the solicitations were narrowly focused. It was remarked that the 2010 RFAs did not include sufficient opportunities for the animal sciences and particularly animal production related research. Others stated that there was not enough support for investigator driven projects and fundamental science.

    Dr. Beachy responded by stating that understood there would be concerns with the approach to AFRI, but that limited budgets and the challenge to transform the agency have required making some hard decisions and prioritizing. He did stress that the challenge area RFAs included opportunities for work in the animal sciences, but acknowledged that things were different this year. Dr. Beachy’s background is in fundamental science, and he remarked that he would like to invest more in the basic sciences, should the agency receive budget increases.

    FASS Washington Representatives Participate in JAM

    FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith attended the Joint Annual Meetings in Denver. The FASS Science Policy Committee held a planning session on July 11th to review the past year’s activities and establish a work plan for the coming year. Mary Delany assumed the role as chair of the committee for the coming year. The committee also welcomed the following new members: Karen Plaut (ADSA), Dean Hawkins (ASAS), and Sheila Scheideler (PSA).

    The FASS Science Policy Committee held a town hall meeting to discuss the FASS Science Policy Program. Past Chair Gary Hartnell provided opening remarks and gave his perspective on the first year of the program. 2010 FASS Congressional Fellow Avenel Joseph then spoke about her experiences working for Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts. (Congratulations to Avenel on being hired as a full time staffer for the Congressman!) Lowell Randel and Walt Smith discussed the committee’s accomplishments for the first year, as well as some of the hot policy issues being debated in Washington, DC. The session closed with Mary Delany discussing the committee’s new work plan for the coming year.

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Antibiotics

    On the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rollout on guidance for the judicious use of antibiotics, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. This was the third hearing held in the House regarding antibiotic resistance. Witnesses included representatives from FDA, USDA, industry and academia. For a full witness list and testimony, visit the House Energy and Commerce Committee website.

    OMB Issues Memo on Science and Technology

    On July 21, 2010, Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding the fiscal year 2012 budget for science and technology. The memo reiterates President Obama’s long term goal that the research and development investment (both private and federal) should reach three percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stresses the importance of supporting transformational research to address grand challenges.

    Six challenge areas are identified in the memo:

    1. Promoting sustainable economic growth and job creation.
    2. Defeating the most dangerous diseases and achieving better health outcomes for all while reducing healthcare costs.
    3. More toward a clean energy future to reduce dependence on energy imports while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
    4. Understanding, adapting to, and mitigating the impacts of global climate change.
    5. Managing the competing demands on land, fresh water, and the oceans for the production of food, fiber, biofuels, and ecosystem services based on sustainability and biodiversity.
    6. Developing the technologies to protect our troops, citizens, and national interests.

    Research agencies, including USDA’s NIFA and ARS will consider this guidance as they formulate their budget proposals for fiscal year 2012. The animal sciences can make contributions to many of these challenge areas and it is important that federal agencies recognize the capacity of the animal sciences to make a difference. A full copy of the memo can be found on the OMB website.

    NIFA Director Addresses National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research

    FASS Washington Representatives participated in a National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (National C-FAR) meeting with Roger Beachy on July 29th. Dr. Beachy addressed the coalition regarding the challenge for increasing the investment in agriculture research. He prefaced the meeting by stating that NIFA had engaged in listening sessions, but he wanted to make sure he was reaching out to industry, as well. Dr. Beachy gave the group a brief overview of recent changes to the AFRI program, including the establishment of challenge areas and increased focus on multi-institutional and integrated projects. He expressed the need to better account for how all USDA supported and conducted research is being applied to the challenge areas. To this end, Beachy has reached out to Land Grant University Deans to breakdown the uses of formula funds into the challenge areas. He is also working with the Agriculture Research Service to determine how their programs align with the challenge areas. A report of this accounting is expected by the end of the year.

    Dr. Beachy then explained the process by which NIFA is analyzing the results of the AFRI public meeting and other stakeholder input they have received. All of the comments have been sorted and are currently being examined by the relevant National Program Leaders (NPLs). Each NPL will then draft a report with specific recommendations for how to address the stakeholder comments in their respective program area. These reports will then be used by NIFA leadership to help formulate future requests for applications.

    Dr. Beachy shared some of the major themes that have emerged from the listening process. The first theme deals with the need for more new/single investigator driven projects. NIFA has received many comments stating that the 2010 AFRI RFAs did not allocate sufficient funding to investigator driven science. Beachy attributed some of these criticisms to the current systems for reward and tenure employed by universities. He indicated that is some cases these systems should be reevaluated to determine if they are providing the most effective incentives.

    In response to this criticism, Dr. Beachy has committed to dedicate 30 percent of all AFRI funds toward investigator driven research. The remaining 70 percent will go to fund multi-institutional, integrated projects.

    Another theme that emerged from stakeholders was the concern about using a “forward” funding mechanism for AFRI grants. Given the history of largely flat funding, there is great concern that this funding mechanism may restrict the ability for NIFA to release new RFAs when budgets are not increased. Dr. Beachy acknowledged the risk involved in this funding strategy, but was optimistic that support from stakeholders would persuade Congress to provide increases. He indicated that they would be drafting the 2011 RFAs with a hope for the “best case” funding scenario, and make adjustments if necessary.

    Dr. Beachy also discussed the need to find commonalities in challenge area priorities across species or crops. The goal is to serve the broadest needs possible given budget constraints. This highlights the value in the FASS lead effort to work with the Animal Agriculture Coalition to identify a collective set of research priorities for animal agriculture.

    Preview of Selected Events:

    September 28-30: BIO Livestock Biotech Summit, Sioux Falls, SD
    October 20: FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Portland

    June
    June 30, 2010

    USDA Public Meeting on Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

    On June 2, 2010, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in a public meeting held by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) regarding recent changes to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Lowell presented oral comments highlighting concerns over some of the structural changes to the program, as well as the lack of emphasis on the animal sciences. FASS Washington Representatives also worked with a subcommittee of the FASS Science Policy Committee to develop written comments that were submitted to USDA.

    Lowell also played a lead role in coordinating oral and written comments submitted by the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture (National C-FAR) and assisted in the development of comments submitted by the AFRI Coalition.

    NIFA is planning to conduct a series of webinars to collect further public input on the AFRI program. It is anticipated that each of the webinars will focus on a particular RFA. Dates for the webinars have not been announced.

    FASS Washington Representative Moderates National C-FAR Program

    Lowell Randel served as a moderator for a National C-FAR “Lunch-n-Learn” seminar on June 7th. The featured presenter was Dr. Paul Thompson from Michigan State University, who spoke about ethical considerations of biotechnology and animal agriculture. Approximately 70 Congressional staff were in attendance.

    FASS Co-sponsors CAST Symposium on Animal Agriculture

    The Federation of Animal Science Societies co-sponsored the recent CAST Food-Animal Agriculture Symposium entitled Sustaining Animal Agriculture: Balancing Bioethical, Economic, and Social Issues. The symposium was held June 8-10, 2010 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC and brought together representatives from academia, industry, government and consumer groups to discuss the future of animal agriculture. FASS Representative Lowell Randel participated in the symposium, as did FASS President Andrew Geisen and ASAS President James Oltjen.

    A strong series of speakers gave participants a variety of perspectives on some of the key issues impacting animal agriculture including animal welfare, food security and the global and societal impacts of food animal production. Presentations spurred spirited discussion on the definition of sustainability and how animal agriculture should evolve to meet increased global demands while balancing animal welfare, environmental stewardship and the economics of animal production. A common theme across many of the presentations was the continued need to advance science to provide a sound foundation for the future. FASS was pleased to be a co-sponsor of the symposium and looks forward to continuing the dialogue on these key issues impacting animal agriculture.

    Inaugural ASAS Intern in Washington

    June also saw the beginning of the ASAS Zimbleman/Hafs Appreciation Clubs Washington internship program. Carilynn Gravatte, a senior animal science major from the University of Kentucky was selected as the inaugural intern and she is serving this summer at the American Meat Institute (AMI). FASS Washington Representatives assisted in the intern selection process, as well as placing Carilynn at AMI for her internship.

    FDA Releases Guidance on Judicious Use of Antibiotics

    The issue of antibiotic use in animals continues to be a hot topic in Washington. On June 28th, the Food and Drug Administration released guidance to industry regarding the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food producing animals. The guidance document can be found at the FDA website here. The guidance is “intended to help reduce the development of resistance to medically important antimicrobial drugs used in food-producing animals.” During a conference call to present the guidance, the directive was lauded by such groups as the Union of Concerned Scientists. The reaction from industry was less enthusiastic, as the National Pork Producers Council criticized the guidance for a lack of scientific basis. A 60 day comment period has been established for the public to provide input or express concerns or support on the proposed guidance. A press release outlining the proposal and providing additional information can be found by clicking here.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to examine legislation aimed at restricting the use of antibiotics in food animal production and is planning to conduct a hearing on the subject on July 15th. FASS Washington Representatives continue to work with the Animal Agriculture Coalition and the Coalition for Animal Health as this issue evolves.

    Preview of Selected Events:

    July 9: Nominations for USDA NAREEAB Advisory Board close
    July 11-15: ADSA-PSA-AMPA-CSAS-ASAS-WSASAS Annual Meeting in Denver
    July 15: House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on antibiotic resistance
    July 20: NIH Conflicts of Interest Policy comment period closes
    July 21: FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Chicago
    October 20: FSIS/FDA/CDC public meeting on food safety in Portland
    TDB: NIFA webinars on AFRI RFAs

    May
    June 1, 2010

    FASS Washington Representatives spent much of May working with coalitions and committees to prepare for the upcoming USDA-NIFA public meeting on June 2nd regarding the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The FASS Science Policy Committee appointed a subcommittee comprised of Mary Delany, Joe O’Donnell, Jim Pettigrew and Lowell Randel to develop FASS comments on the AFRI program. Lowell Randel will provide oral comments at the public meeting and written comments will also be submitted. Lowell also led a subcommittee of the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (National C-FAR) to develop comments related to AFRI.

    FASS efforts to work with the Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC) to develop a set of collective priorities for the animal sciences also continued in May. Walt Smith and Lowell Randel are leading an AAC Task Force on the issue. The Task Force met in May and Walt also provided a report during the May AAC meeting. Task Force activities are scheduled to continue in the month of June.

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Drugs and Animal Health held a symposium on May 24th. The symposium took place at the offices of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, DC and was well attended by representatives from government, industry and academia. FASS Washington Representatives assisted in the development of the symposium agenda and secured a number of the speakers. Topics included animal health research priorities, the President’s Food Safety Working Group and antibiotic resistance. A copy of the symposium agenda can be found on the FASS website.

    On May 26th, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing regarding two nominations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Committee heard testimony from Dr. Catherine Woteki, nominee for Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, and Dr. Elizabeth Hagan, nominee for Undersecretary for Food Safety. While neither of the nominations is expected to be controversial, the committee did not take any formal action during the hearing. Committee approval and full Senate consideration are expected this summer.

    Preview of Selected Events Coming in June:

    June 2: NIFA Public Meeting on the AFRI Program (http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2010news/05131_afri_comment.html)

    June 8-10: CAST Symposium: Sustaining Animal Agriculture: Balancing Bioethical, Economic, and Social Issues (cosponsored by FASS) (http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e2sfvhf30061f2fe)

    June 15: AAAS Charles Valentine Memorial Lecture (http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/giving/highlights/)

    April
    April 30, 2010

    April 2010 saw the first step by Congress towards the 2012 Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss the status of implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill to help prepare for 2012. The House Agriculture Committee will now be holding at series of field hearings across the country to review U.S. agriculture policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill. A full list of field hearings can be found at: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/agriculture_dem/PR042910.html.

    President Obama announced on April 22nd the nomination of Dr. Catherine Woteki for the position of USDA Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics (REE). This would be Dr. Woteki’s second stint at REE, as she served as REE Deputy Under Secretary during the Clinton Administration. She also served as the first Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. Dr. Woteki also has experience in the university community and the private sector. She currently works as the Global Director of Scientific Affairs for Mars, Incorporated and previously served as the Dean of Agriculture at Iowa State University. April was a busy month for the FASS Science Policy program. FASS Washington Representatives met with a number of coalitions during the month and have taken leadership roles on some key issues impacting animal science.

    In follow-up to the FASS Board Meeting in Washington at the end of March, FASS Washington Representatives met with the Animal Agriculture Coalition to discuss the concept of establishing a process for setting priorities for animal science, similar to the FAIR process used in 1995 and 2002. Members of the AAC were in consensus that it would be valuable to identify a collective set of priorities for animal agriculture and created a Task Force to identify next steps. FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel will be coordinating the Task Force.

    The National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (N-CFAR) held its annual meeting on April 22nd. Lowell Randel represents FASS on the N-CFAR Board of Directors and participated in the annual meeting. A major topic of discussion during the meeting was the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the recently released request for applications (RFA). Members of the Board heard from USDA representatives about the new program and some concerns were identified. Lowell Randel was appointed to serve as the chair of an N-CFAR subcommittee tasked with examining the AFRI RFA and drafting comments to be sent to USDA regarding the program. On a related note, the FASS Science Policy Committee has also established a subcommittee to examine the AFRI RFA and drafting comments regarding changes in the program. The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) hosted a public policy webinar on April 20th designed to inform members about FASS Science Policy activities, as well as learn more about the AFRI RFA. Bob Wetteman discussed the background and establishment of the ASAS and FASS policy committees. Jim Pettigrew shared information about the Science Policy Committee’s efforts to create policy statements. Lowell Randel presented information about FASS activities in Washington and some of the hot issues impacting animal agriculture. The webinar culminated with representatives from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture detailing the new AFRI RFA and identifying opportunities for animal science within the program. The webinar was well attended and set a good foundation for future policy related webinars for FASS and the founding societies.

    During the month of April, FASS Washington Representatives also participated in the selection process for the inaugural ASAS Zimbleman/Hafs Washington internship. Carilynn Gravatte, a senior Animal Science major from the University of Kentucky was selected as the program’s first award recipient. FASS Washington Representatives are working with Carilynn to place her in a Washington office for the summer of 2010.

    FASS Washington Representatives also worked closely with the FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Drugs and Animal Health to help plan their upcoming symposium in Washington, DC. The event will take place on May 24th at the American Farm Bureau Federation offices and cover hot topics such as antibiotics policy, food safety and animal health research priorities.

    Preview of Selected Events Coming in May:

    Various Dates: House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Field Hearings (http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/agriculture_dem/PR042910.html)

    May 13-14:AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/forum/

    May 24th: FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Food Safety, Animal Drugs and Animal Health Symposium in Washington, DC

    March
    April 6, 2010

    March 2010 was an historic month in our nation’s capitol. After a year of debates and controversy, Congress passed sweeping healthcare reforms and President Obama has signed them into law. This could theoretically break the legislative logjam created by the intense focus on healthcare, paving the way for consideration of bills such as food safety, climate change and child nutrition.

    There are indications that the Senate may take up their version of food safety legislation after the Easter recess, and that floor time has been set aside. Senate staff continues negotiations to finalize refinements to the bill to ready it for final consideration. On climate change, a bipartisan group of three Senators has been working on a “compromise” bill that might be more palatable to Republicans and moderate Democrats, who had expressed concerns regarding the House passed version and previous Senate drafts. With regard to child nutrition, the Senate Agriculture Committee to the first step towards reauthorization by approving a draft bill on March 24th.

    While it appears that there will be attempts to move these and other legislative initiatives, it remains to be seen how aggressive Congress will be in advancing additional issues this year. The recent battle over healthcare, and the impending mid-term elections may mean that little legislation is completed between now and November.

    On March 22nd, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Request for Applications (RFA) for 2010. The announcement outlined the agency’s plans to disperse approximately $262 million in competitive grants across the following five challenge areas:

    • Childhood Obesity Prevention
    • Climate Change
    • Food Safety
    • Global Food Security
    • Sustainable Bioenergy

    Funds will also be available for foundational grants as well as pre and post-doctoral fellowships. It is anticipated that grants awarded under this solicitation will be larger and for a longer duration than previous USDA competitive grant programs, with an emphasis on bringing together multiple institutions and integrating research, extension and education. Some grants could be as large as $45 million over a five year period.

    It appears that AFRI will be following a “continuation” funding scheme, meaning that multi-year grants funded by this RFA will be paid each year from Congressional appropriations made for AFRI. Under this system, if there are no increases in AFRI funding next year, there may be very few, if any new projects funded next year. This is similar to how NSF and NIH have funded grants, but does come with some risk, if Congress does not provide increases in subsequent years, or if there are any decreases in funding.

    USDA has indicated that the AFRI priority area of “Animal Health and Production and Animal Products” will be addressed under “Climate Change”, Food Safety”, “Global Food Security” and the “Foundational” programs. There is some concern that animal sciences could receive a smaller percentage of funding under the new priorities and program system.

    More details on the AFRI announcement can be found at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/afri/afri.html In addition, NIFA Director Roger Beachy held a webcast on Tuesday, March 23rd, which can be viewed at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/webcast.html FASS Washington Representatives will be participating in a webinar in April, sponsored by ASAS that will provide additional information on the AFRI RFA. Watch for announcements coming soon.

    Also in March, FASS Washington Representatives participated in a joint USDA ARS/NIFA meeting to help set USDA research priorities on animal health. The two day event featured presentations from USDA leadership including Acting Under Secretary Molly John and Chief Scientist and NIFA Director Roger Beachy along with industry representatives from a wide range of animal species. Participants also worked in breakout sessions to identify specific priorities for each species. Several themes emerged from the breakout sessions, including animal welfare, genetics/genomics, antimicrobial resistance, foreign animal disease, emerging and foreign animal diseases and the livestock/wildlife interface. In addition, there was discussion about specific diseases impacting the various species. The results of the workshop will be posted on the ARS and NIFA websites.

    At the end of March, the FASS Board of Directors held its spring meeting in Washington. FASS Washington Representatives presented a report to the Board on the efforts of the FASS Science Policy Program, and the FASS Board approved a FASS policy statement on environmental stewardship and production efficiency. Work continues on additional policy statements on topics including antibiotics, animal welfare, and nutrition.

    FASS Washington Representatives also organized a meeting for the FASS Board with animal agriculture organization representatives in Washington to discuss the concept of initiating a priority setting process for research in animal agriculture, similar to the FAIR process in 1995 and 2002. The group agreed that it would be helpful to have a collective set of priorities that all of animal agriculture could rally around. It was also agreed that it would be helpful to look for ways to partner with the plant sciences on overall agriculture research priorities. FASS Washington Representatives will be working with partner organizations in Washington to determine next steps.

    Throughout March, FASS Washington Representatives continued to participate in FASS and Founding Society meetings and conference calls. One such activity is participating in the selection process of the inaugural ASAS Washington internship, supported by the Hafs and Zimbelman Appreciation Clubs. Other activities include interaction with FASS Scientific Advisory Committees and Founding Society Policy Committees.

    Preview of Selected Events Coming in April:

    ASAS Science Policy Webinar – Details coming soon

    Animal Agriculture Coalition – meeting date TBD

    National C-FAR - Annual meeting, April 22

    Animal Agriculture Alliance – Stakeholders Summit, April 28-29

    February
    March 2, 2010

    February marks the beginning of the annual budget process with the President submitting his proposal to Congress. This usually occurs on the first Monday of February, and this year was not an exception. President Obama submitted his official budget request for fiscal year 2011 on Monday, February 1st.

    President Obama’s budget proposal requests a total of $1.5 billion for the new National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). This is about $12 million more than the amount appropriated to NIFA in fiscal year 2010. As is the case with almost every administration, Obama’s budget removes funding for all Congressionally directed earmarks and redirects that funding into other programs. Because it is not likely that Congress will forego their prerogative for earmarks, the President’s numbers are somewhat skewed.

    Included in the president’s request is a significant increase in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI received $262.482 million in FY 2010 and the president has proposed $428.845 for FY 2011. This represents the largest amount ever requested for USDA’s premier competitive grants program (either the NRI or AFRI). The proposed increase is good news for agricultural research in general; however, it will be important to the animal sciences that any increases in AFRI maintain a balance for grants in animal science.

    FASS Washington Representatives have been actively working on FY 2011 budget issues in a number of areas. As previously reported, Lowell Randel is serving on a writing team for the American Association for the Advancement of Science to produce chapters on the USDA budget for FY 2011, as well as an interdisciplinary chapter looking at agriculture related sciences across the federal government. The report is scheduled for completion in March 2010. FASS Washington Representatives have also been working with the AFRI Coalition and the Animal Agriculture Coalition to support increases in agricultural research.

    USDA announced in February that it was going to discontinue its National Animal Identification System and transition to a new framework for animal disease traceability. According to USDA, the new system will:

    • Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
    • Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
    • Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
    • Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

    USDA’s announcement drew mixed reviews, with some key members of Congress, such as House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro expressing doubts that a state run system is the best solution. USDA is planning to move forward with rulemaking on the new program this spring.

    February also saw a number of major media stories that were critical of current animal agriculture practices. CBS news ran a story criticizing the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animal production. The Animal Agriculture Coalition sent a letter to CBS calling into question the validity of some of the statements made in the story. In addition, ABC news broadcast a story about the practice of tail docking in dairies. These stories highlight two major issues that will continue to be at the forefront of animal agriculture policy: antibiotics and animal welfare. FASS is actively working to develop policy statements on a number of topics, including antibiotics and animal welfare.

    FASS Washington Representatives participated in Congressional briefings in February designed to provide more balanced information to staff on the issue of antibiotic use. The briefings were coordinated by several of the animal agriculture industry groups in Washington and were co-hosted by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress.

    In the area of animal welfare, FASS partnered with the American Humane Association to highlight the contributions of Dr. Temple Grandin to animal welfare. FASS and AHA issued a press release praising the HBO movie Temple Grandin, which originally aired on HBO on February 6th.

    Also in February, FASS Washington Representatives worked with the American Society of Animal Science to develop materials in support of the inaugural internship program supported by the Zimbleman and Hafs Appreciation Clubs. Resources made available by these clubs will go to support an intern in Washington, likely in the summer of 2011. FASS Washington Representatives will assist in the placement of the intern and help them through their time in Washington. The new internship program should be a great complement to the successful AAAS Fellows program in which FASS has participated in the past.

    Finally, FASS Washington Representatives continue to work closely with coalitions and like-minded organizations in Washington to promote animal science and agricultural research in general. Working with the FASS Science Policy Committee, FASS Washington Representatives identified potential candidates to serve on the soon to be formed Animal Health Institute Scientific Advisory Committee. At the time of this report, at least one of the candidates has been selected to serve. Lowell Randel also spoke to the DC Chapter of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS), highlighting the FASS Science Policy efforts and discussing some of the hot issues facing animal agriculture.

    January
    February 2, 2010

    January is generally a quiet month from a legislative perspective. While there was little Congressional activity in Washington, there was a significant change in the make-up of the U.S. Senate. Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts surged from behind and captured the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for the last 47 years. Senator Brown will be the 41st Republican in the Senate, meaning that the Democrats will no longer have a “filibuster proof” majority. This could potentially shake-up the legislative agenda impacting the fate of major legislative initiatives such as health care and climate change.

    FASS Washington Representatives had a busy month, meeting with a variety of coalitions and groups in Washington on policy issues impacting the animal sciences. On January 5th, FASS Washington Representatives participated in a meeting of the Animal Agriculture Coalition with senior Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to discuss the future of antibiotics policy. Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein led the FDA delegation and sent a clear message to the AAC about his position on antibiotics use in food animal production. Dr. Sharfstein stated that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion was “not judicious” and that the industry should take voluntary steps to move away from the practice. He also indicated that the agency would be exploring regulatory options to govern antibiotic use. This comes at the same time that Congress is considering legislation that would severely restrict antibiotic use in animal agriculture. FASS Washington Representatives also attended the January 22nd meeting of the AAC and gave a presentation on FASS Science Policy efforts.

    Also in January, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel assumed the FASS position on the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NCFAR). He participated in his first meeting as a board member on January 4th. Lowell also joined the AFRI Coalition for a meeting with the Office of Science and Technology Policy on January 29th, to discuss the importance of the USDA AFRI competitive grants program.

    After undergoing a review by FASS Scientific Advisory Committees and the FASS Science Policy Committee, FASS issued a press release regarding the Pew Commission’s report on Industrial Farm Animal Production. The FASS release outlined concerns with the Pew report process and content, echoing issues raised by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The release was covered by a number of agriculture publications including Drovers and Feedstuffs. Lowell Randel and Janice Swanson were also interviewed for a podcast aimed at the livestock industry.

    FASS also sent a letter to President Obama this month in response to a Humane Society of the United States effort to urge the Obama Administration to create an animal protection liaison in the White House. The FASS letter stated that there are currently effective mechanisms in place within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address animal welfare issues, and that there is not a need to create a new position in the White House.

    On January 26th, Lowell Randel participated in a call with animal science department heads to outline FASS Science Policy activities and current issues impact animal agriculture.

    Lowell also continued his work as a part of the writing team for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) report on Research and Development for fiscal year 2011, including a meeting with USDA officials to discuss budget issues. Lowell is assisting in the formation of the chapter on USDA, as well as the first ever interdisciplinary chapter on food, nutrition, agriculture and natural resources.

    Finally, FASS Science Policy Committee members continued to make progress on developing draft policy statements. Drafts are currently being prepared in policy areas including the environment, antibiotics, animal welfare and nutrition and health of animal products.

    2009

    December
    January 4, 2010

    December 2009 brought yet another Christmas at the Capitol for Congress. Senators worked until Christmas Eve day to complete their version of the health care reform bill. On a strictly party line vote, the Senate was able to muster 60 votes for the package, setting up a conference with the House in early 2010 to resolve differences. There are significant differences in the two versions that must be reconciled before a bill can be presented to the President. Expect a continued focus on health care when Congress returns from the holiday break.

    Also on Christmas Eve, the Senate confirmed Rajiv Shah as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Shah has previously held the position of USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics (REE). In anticipation of Shah’s move to USAID, FASS Washington Representatives drafted a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack identifying the characteristics we believe are important in an REE Under Secretary. These include experience in conducting and managing research in the field of agriculture, an appreciation of USDA’s intramural and extramural science programs, familiarity with the Land Grant University System and the “three legged stool” of research, education and extension, and support for a balanced investment across agricultural disciplines. The Obama Administration has not yet announced a nominee for the REE position. In the interim, current Deputy Under Secretary Molly Jahn has been named Acting Under Secretary, and Roger Beachy has been named Acting Chief Scientist.

    FASS Washington Representatives also developed a press release announcing FASS’ support for the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) response to the Pew Commission’s report on industrial farm animal production. The release outlines FASS concerns with the process used to draft the Pew Commission report, as well as substantive concerns with the report’s conclusions and recommendations.

    Also in December, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel was asked to participate on a writing team for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Report on Research and Development for 2011. The writing team consists of representatives from several scientific organizations and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). The team will assess the FY 2011 budget for USDA, as well as look across other agency programs supporting science in food, nutrition, agriculture and natural resources.

    Washington Representatives continue to participate in a variety of conference calls with FASS and founding society committees. One such call of note came with the FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Animal Care. The SAC discussed efforts by the Humane Society of the United States to urge the Obama Administration to establish an animal protection liaison at the White House. FASS is currently preparing a letter detailing concerns with this approach.

    November
    December 1, 2009

    During the month of November much of the Congressional focus stayed on the issue of healthcare. The House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of the sweeping legislation by the margin of 220 to 215. The vote broke largely along party lines, with one Republican voting for the bill, and 39 Democrats opposing it. On November 21, 2009, the Senate gained the 60 votes necessary to begin debate, but it is uncertain whether there will be sufficient votes to ultimately pass the bill in the Senate.

    Amidst the activity on healthcare, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) took action to advance food safety legislation. By a unanimous voice vote, the committee approved S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Of particular interest to FASS was an amendment filed by Senator Reed of Rhode Island that would have curtailed the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Fortunately, Sen. Reed did not force a debate and vote on the amendment, but it is another signal that the issue of antibiotics will continue to be discussed in Congress.

    Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the HELP committee acknowledged the issue of antibiotics use and called for more research on the topic. It is important to have the Chairman recognizing the role and importance of science when considering any changes to current antibiotics policies. FASS Washington Representatives attended the committee meeting and will continue to be engaged on the issue as the bill moves forward in the Senate. Given that healthcare reform has yet to be resolved, it appears unlikely that food safety legislation will be completed in 2009.

    On November 10th, President Obama nominated current USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Rajiv Shah to be the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The move from USDA to USAID would allow Shah to focus on international development issues, which fits very nicely with his previous role with the Gate Foundation. A replacement for him at USDA has yet to be named.

    November was also the month where FASS officially unveiled its new Science Policy Blog. On November 17th, FASS issued a press release detailing FASS Science Policy activities and announced the blog website. The release was picked up by a number of agriculture related outlets and has also been distributed to key Congressional offices and relevant organizations in Washington, DC. Administered by FASS Washington Representatives, the blog will serve as a forum for highlighting and discussing policy issues impacting animal agriculture. We encourage all members of FASS founding societies to visit the blog at: http://blog.fass.org/SciencePolicy/.

    FASS Washington Representatives continue to meet with like-minded organizations in Washington to identify potential areas for partnership. FASS Washington Representatives participated in a recent AFRI Coalition meeting where Roger Beachy, the new Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, discussed his priorities for the agency. We are also currently working with the Institute of Food Technologists regarding a potential white paper addressing agricultural science and food security, as well as the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics on the issue of country of origin labeling.

    October
    November 18, 2009

    October was a busy month for our colleagues at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Starting October 1, 2009, there was a new agency at the Department responsible for research, extension and education programs. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), established through the 2008 Farm Bill, replaces the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and is designed to raise the profile of USDA supported science. Dr. Roger Beachy, a prominent plant scientist and founding President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, was named by President Obama to serve as NIFA Director.

    In Congress, work was completed on the Fiscal Year 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill and the President signed it into law on October 16th. The final version included $262 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which represents an increased investment in competitive grants at USDA. FASS and the founding societies worked with like-minded organizations to support this increase.

    On October 22nd, FASS Washington Representatives attended a hearing on food safety held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The committee heard testimony on S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which would strengthen FDA’s food safety authorities including: requiring HACCP for all food facilities, increasing reporting requirements, requiring traceability, and authorizing mandatory recalls. Representatives from industry and consumer groups expressed support for the legislation and a bipartisan group of Senators praised the bill. HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin stated his desire to move the bill through committee by the end of the year. However, timing is uncertain, as the HELP Committee is also responsible for health care reform. The House passed similar legislation in the summer of 2009.

    The FASS Science Policy Committee held a face-to-face meeting in Washington, DC in October to develop a work plan for the coming months. One of the key accomplishments was the identification of priority areas and the establishment of a process for developing policy statements. Policy statements are currently under development in the areas of food safety, animal welfare, antibiotics, nutrition and health of animal products, and the environment. The committee also recommended adoption of a policy statement on the importance of agricultural research funding and food security, similar to a statement adopted by ASAS earlier in the year. The FASS Board approved the work plan, as well as the policy statement on food security during its fall meeting.

    While in Washington, the Science Policy Committee also met with representatives of key animal agriculture and science organizations. These meetings were helpful in solidifying relationships and exchanging information on hot topics impacting animal agriculture and agricultural science in general. FASS is expanding this outreach by looking at ways to partner with like-minded organizations. The FASS Board has approved formally joining the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Coalition, a group of agriculture and science organizations dedicated to increasing competitive research funding. The FASS Board also approved joining the Animal Agriculture Coalition and the Coalition for National Science Funding.

    Webinar Series

    FASS Science Policy Committee Webinar
    March 29, 2018

    The Impact and Role of Public Funding in Agriculture and the US Economy

    This will be a brief, engaging overview of past accomplishments, present conditions, and future possibilities for public and private research funding on the US economy and quality of life. The USDA and other agencies have funded billions of dollars in research that has benefitted all of society, not just agriculture. The amount of public money spent on research in all aspects of agriculture is just a tiny fraction of the total invested in food production, but it has far-reaching impacts on human and animal health, the environment, and the entire US economy. Every aspect of the economy, from individual farms to local communities to foreign trade, has benefited greatly from agricultural research; however, current funding may not be adequate to rise to the challenges of present and future societal needs.

    The webinar is intended for anyone who buys or eats food, but will be of special interest to students, faculty, specialists, and anyone involved in agriculture. It will provide a brief summary of the past and present, with questions and ideas for the future. There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion at the end.

    If you need additional information please contact John McNamara: m...@wsu.edu or Ken Olson: k...@prodigy.net

    The Role of the FASS Ag Guide in Farm Animal Research
    Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. (EST)

    The issue of farm animal care in research is currently the subject of much discussion and debate in Washington, DC and around the country. To help clarify policies and procedures related to farm animal care and available resources, FASS, publisher of the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (FASS Ag Guide) hosted a webinar entitled "The Role of the FASS Ag Guide in Farm Animal Research". Learn more about policy issues surrounding farm animal care and the role of the FASS Ag Guide.

    Speakers and topics of discussion during the one-hour webinar include:

    1. Introduction-Overview — Ken Odde, FASS Science Policy Committee
    2. Situation in Washington, DC — Lowell Randel, FASS Science Policy Committee
    3. History-Current Animal Care Policies — John McGlone, FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Animal Care and Chris Newcomer, AAALAC International
      1. Animal Welfare Act (AWA) — Who and what does it cover?
      2. The FASS Ag Guide — Why and how was it created, how is it updated, and who uses it (USDA-APHIS, AAALAC, University IACUCs)?
      3. Consequences of changing the AWA?
    4. Summary
    5. Q&A

    This webinar is being offered free by the FASS. A copy of the FASS Ag Guide can be found at http://www.fass.org/docs/agguide3rd/Ag_Guide_3rd_ed.pdf.

    Does the Scientific Literature Suggest the Need for Mandatory Process-Based Labeling of GE Food?
    April 25, 2013 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm CDT

    Several states have bills pending to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients. The FDA can only mandate GE labeling if foods containing GE ingredients differ in a "material" way from conventionally produced foods. This webinar will review the scientific literature regarding the composition and safety of food and feed from GE plants and animals.

    Climate Change and Animal Production
    March 19, 2013 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CDT

    Scientific evidence strongly suggests that climate change is occurring and has the potential to affect global food security. Production animal agriculture is both affected by climate change and variability, and a contributor to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The first part of the webinar will discuss the current effects, adaptation strategies, and future needs for adapting animal production systems to climatic change and variability. The second part of the webinar will discuss the GHG emission sources and GHG emission mitigation strategies for animal production systems, followed by a question and answer session.

    Cleaning Up the Slime: Science and Substantiation
    February 15, 2013 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CST

    Misinformation in the public domain can have considerable negative effects on the US economy. Consequences are more calamitous in the current landscape of high unemployment rates and increases in the number of individuals at the poverty level. As a result of the misinformation regarding lean finely textured beef (LFTB), there was a loss of approximately 600 jobs, and adverse effects on the overall beef industry. Current estimates are that the story on “pink slime” potentially cost the US $400 million.

    Lean finely textured beef, which is also referred to as “pink slime” has been included in ground beef used by grocery stores, restaurants, and USDA’s school lunch program for over a decade. This webinar will explore the rigorous scientific testing, food processing, and economics of LFTB.

    Swine Castration
    October 8, 2012 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT

    Webinar Advertisement

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Animal Care and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are collaborating on a dynamic webinar series for participants to learn about current and emerging issues in animal welfare. The webinar format provides an efficient forum to share information on a broad array of topics. Each webinar in the series will feature experts in specific topic areas of farm animal care. We hope that you will find this program useful and informational!

    Welcome and Introductions
    Dr. John McGlone
    Texas Tech University
    FASS Animal Care Committee, Chair

    Options for Castration
    Dr. John McGlone
    Texas Tech University

    USA Finishing Herd Numbers and Distribution and the Drive for Heavier Market Weights
    Dr. Paul Matzat
    PIC USA

    Relieving Pain by Anesthetics and/or Analgesics
    Dr. J. Hans Coetzee / Dr. Mhairi Sutherland
    Iowa State University / AgResearch Ltd

    How Pigs Are Typically Castrated
    Dr. John McGlone
    Texas Tech University

    Options for the Future – Ways to Move Forward
    Dr. John McGlone
    Texas Tech University

    Why Is Physical Castration an Animal Welfare Issue?
    Dr. Gail Golab
    American Veterinary Medical Association

    Questions and Discussion

    Strengthening the Ties Between Animal Science and Biomedicine: Dual Use and Other Opportunities Through the NIH
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:00 PM CDT - 2:30 CDT

    Welcome and Introductions
    Dr. James Pettigrew
    University of Illinois
    FASS Science Policy Committee, Chair

    NIH 101 and Dual Use Programs
    Dr. Ravi N. Ravindranath
    Program Director, Preimplantation Genetics and Development
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
    National Institutes of Health

    Successful Dual Use Proposals: Advice from an Applicant and Reviewer's Perspective
    Dr. Thomas E. Spencer
    Center Reproductive Biology
    Department of Animal Sciences
    School of Molecular Biosciences
    Washington State University

    Q & A

    Gestation Sow Housing
    Friday, May 11, 2012, 1:00 - 2:30pm CDT

    Webinar Advertisement

    The FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Animal Care and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are collaborating on a dynamic webinar series for participants to learn about current and emerging issues in animal welfare. The webinar format provides an efficient forum to share information on a broad array of topics. Each webinar in the series will feature experts in specific topic areas of farm animal care. We hope that you will find this program useful and informational!

    Welcome and Introductions
    Dr. John McGlone
    Texas Tech University
    FASS Animal Care Committee, Chair

    Space Needs For Group-Housed Sows
    Janeen Salak-Johnson
    University of Illinois

    Gestation and Farrowing Crates and Pens
    Dr. Ken Stalder
    Iowa State University

    Lameness and Injuries Among Gestating Sows
    Dr. Anna Johnson
    Iowa State University

    Options For Group Housing of Sows
    Dr. Yuzhi Li
    University of Minnesota

    Genotypes for Group Housing
    Dr. Craig Lewis
    PIC Geneticist

    Scientific Comparison of Gestation Housing Systems
    Dr. Gail Golab
    American Veterinary Medical Association

    Questions and Discussion

    Animal Biotechnology Today
    Thursday, September 1, 2011 2:00 PM EDT – 3:30 PM EDT

    Introduction and Discussion of FASS Policy Statement on Biotechnology
    Karen Plaut, Director of Ag Research Programs/Assoc.
    Dean of Agriculture/Prof. in Animal Science

    The FDA Process in Evaluating Animal Biotech Products
    Harlan Howard, Animal Biotechnology Interdisciplinary Group
    FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine

    The State of Science in Biotechnology
    Ronnie Green, Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska and Harlan Vice Chancellor, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Industry Perspectives on Animal Biotechnology
    Dave Edwards, Director, Animal Biotechnology,
    Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)

    Discussion/Question and Answer

    Antibiotics in Animals and People
    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Welcome and Introductions
    Jim Pettigrew, FASS Science Policy Committee Member, ASAS Board Representative

    Overview of the issues
    Billy Hargis, University of Arkansas, Director, Poultry Health Research Laboratory

    FASS Policy Statement on Antibiotics
    Jim Pettigrew, FASS Science Policy Committee Member, ASAS Board Representative

    Update on FDA Antibiotics Policy
    William Flynn, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA, Senior Adviser for Science Policy