April, 2010

    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