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.
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/)