August 30, 2013
FASS Washington Representatives Lowell Randel and Walt Smith are continuing to work with representatives from USDA and the National Academies of Science to advance the consensus study entitled "Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research." The concept grew from discussions last year with USDA officials about the need to build momentum for investments in the animal sciences. Since then, a proposal has been developed and fundraising is underway.
Strong support is being shown by several animal industry organizations, foundations and the scientific community. NAS has indicated that they are very close to having the funding necessary to bring the study. Once funding is secured, a committee of experts will be impaneled to conduct the study. FASS Washington Representatives are working closely with USDA and NAS to ensure that an appropriate balance of experts from various disciplines across the animal science community and industry are represented on the committee.
Key questions identified for the study include:
- Assessing global demand for products of animal origin in 2050 within the framework of ensuring global food security;
- Evaluating how climate change and limited natural resources may impact the ability to meet future global demand for animal products in sustainable production systems, including typical conventional, alternative and evolving animal production systems;
- Identifying factors that may impact domestic ability to meet demand for animal products, including the need for trained human capital, product safety and quality, and adoption of new knowledge and technologies;
- Identifying resources needed to develop and disseminate this knowledge and technology; and
- Describing the evolution of sustainable animal production systems relevant to production and production efficiency metrics.
The consensus study is estimated to take approximately 6-9 months, which is significantly shorter than the normal NAS process. It is hoped that this study will begin in fall 2013 and that results will build on FAIR 2012 and increase momentum for future investments in the animal sciences.
It has been a quiet August recess for the Farm Bill. Shortly before the August recess, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a version of the farm bill that did not include nutrition programs. Since then, the House leadership has been looking at the development of a separate bill to address nutrition programs. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was recently quoted saying that the House would bring up a nutrition bill in September that includes significant reforms to the nutrition programs such as stricter work requirements. It is estimated that the new House package could same approximately $40 billion from nutrition programs, which is about twice as much as the comprehensive farm bill that was rejected by the House this summer. The Senate bill would save $4 billion.
These reforms continue to be a major sticking point between Republicans and Democrats and it is unclear whether there will be sufficient votes to pass such a nutrition bill in the House. This also creates uncertainty about conferencing the House and Senate versions of the farm bills that have passed each chamber. The Senate named conferees in July, but the House has yet to do so. Current farm bill authorities expire at the end of September.
A new web resource containing information about safe feed had been developed by the Animal Feed Safety System (AFSS) Team at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The new web page (www.FDA.gov/SafeFeed) was launched in July and the AFSS Team is encouraging the animal feed industry to review the site and provide ideas on how best to improve the site.
The Web page provides six links for additional information on:
- Seek Ingredient Approval
- Manufacture Animal Feed
- Learn about Good Animal Feeding Practices
- Report a Problem
- Ship Animal Feed
- Learn about FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act).
The AFSS Team identified the topics above as the most useful to share with users. Their hope is to shorten the time required for individuals to find relevant information. For example, a user attempting to search for industry guidance for manufacturing animal feed only can click on the "Manufacture Animal Feed" link, which will lead the user to additional links to all the pertinent guidance documents. The FDA SafeFeed page also has links along the side of the Web page containing "News," "Pet Food Regulation," "Feed Regulators," and "Videos."
With shrinking federal budgets and new authorities under the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to work on methods to create efficiencies in their inspection programs. Their work is also expected to generate greater coordination and information transfers between FDA and their cooperators throughout the U.S.
Specifically, a pilot project has been developed by FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Minneapolis District Office and the States of Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. These cooperators are reviewing processes aimed at harmonizing and establishing inspection priority lists that help identify high-risk feed manufacturing facilities for inspections and frequency of inspections.
The cooperators identified a list of site-specific risk factors. Those risk factors are used to review and prioritize a list of feed manufacturers. The list will contain high, and non-high risk feed facilities. After the list is developed, the States and District Office will meet to prepare a risk-based work plan for inspecting the listed facilities.
The first inspection phase began last year with 18 site-specific risk factors used to categorize high risk and non-high risk feed manufacturing facilities. Earlier in this year, FDA officials reduced the number of risk factors in half, to nine factors. FDA now gives greater weight to risk factors that impact risks to animal and human health.
The pilot program is in its second phase and, if successful, the program could be made available in other regions of the U.S. at the beginning of 2014.