March 1, 2013
Federal agencies are making preparations for how to address across the board cuts that would come in the event that Congress and the Administration cannot reach agreement on how to deal with the impending budget sequestration. If an agreement is not reached by March 1st, agencies will be forced to make cuts to all non-exempt programs. Specific programs which have been referenced by USDA include meat, poultry and egg inspections by the Food Safety Inspection Service and farm programs. Agricultural research is not exempt from the sequestration and the resulting cuts would require approximately 10 percent reductions for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. Sequestration will hit other research agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), which sent a notice out to university leaders on February 28th . A copy of the NSF announcement can be found here: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/in133/in133.pdf
In late December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its long awaited environmental assessment for the application to approve genetically engineered salmon. Along with the environmental assessment, FDA issued a finding of no significant impact. FASS and the founding societies have cosigned a letter led by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in support of FDA’s science-based process. While not taking a position on the application in question, the letter supports FDA’s science based process for evaluating applications for GE products and encourages FDA to move forward with the process in a timely way. Consumer groups are strongly criticizing FDA’s draft findings, which if finalized would pave the way for approval of GE salmon.
FASS and the founding societies joined a broad group of agriculture related organizations in sending a letter to Chrysler Corporation thanking the company for airing the Super Bowl ad entitled “So God Made a Farmer”. The commercial supports a very positive image of the American farmer and highlights the importance of agriculture. The commercial features audio from an address that Paul Harvey gave to an FFA Convention in 1978. Dodge Ram has declared 2013 the “Year of the Farmer” and is working to raise $1 million to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs.
FASS and the founding societies joined members of the Animal Agriculture Coalition in sending a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees regarding farm bill programs important to animal agriculture. The letter details specific provisions of interest, including recommendations based on the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill that were considered last year. The majority of the programs supported in the letter are related to agricultural research.
FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel attended the ASAS and ADSA Board meetings in Orlando in early February. Lowell provided the boards an update on FASS Science Policy activities and key policy issues being debated in Washington. Lowell Randel and Walt Smith also participated in the annual Animal Science Department Heads Meeting in Tampa to discuss FASS Science Policy.
Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee are planning to meet in Washington, DC on March 4-5, 2013. The committee will meet with agency representatives from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The group will also meet with Senate Agriculture Committee staff to discuss the Farm Bill. The trip will also provide the committee the opportunity to discuss strategies for the remainder of 2013.
FASS and the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE) sponsored a webinar on “pink slime” on February 15th. Chad Carr from the University of Florida represented FASS and discussed the science and safety of lean finely textured beef, commonly known as pink slime. J. Ross Pruitt from Louisiana State University addessed the LFTB’s impact in the beef and cattle markets, including discussion on reaction to stories on LFTB by the beef industry and USDA. Over 60 representatives from academia, industry, Congress and federal agencies participated in the webinar. The full webinar can be accessed on the FASS website at: http://www.fass.org/policy_webinar.asp
The FASS Science Policy Committee has organized a webinar that will address the impacts of climate change on animal production, as well as animal production’s impact on climate change. The webinar will take place on March 19th at 2pm eastern. More information can be found in the notice below:
Climate Change and Animal Production Webinar
March 19, 2:00 PM EDT
Scientific evidence strongly suggests that climate change is occurring and has the potential to affect global food security. Production animal agriculture is both affected by climate change and variability, and a contributor to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The first part of the webinar will discuss the current effects, adaptation strategies, and future needs for adapting animal production systems to climatic change and variability. The second part of the webinar will discuss the GHG emission sources and GHG emission mitigation strategies for animal production systems, followed by a question and answer session.
"The Effect Climate Change Has On Animal Production"
Dr. Sara Place
Sustainable Beef Cattle Systems
Department of Animal Science
Oklahoma State University
"The Effect Animal Production Has On The Climate"
Dr. Judith Capper
Livestock Sustainability Consultant
Washington State University