November 6, 2012
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.
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.
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.