June, 2010

    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