March 12, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.