March 3, 2014
On February 7th, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the Farm Bill, into law. The signing marked the end of a long and sometimes controversial process to reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs. Ultimately, the bill received bipartisan support in both the House (passed 251-166) and Senate (68-32). The bill is projected to cost $956 billion over ten years, with $756 billion going to nutrition programs.
Of particular interest to the animal sciences, the bill includes a new competitive grants program focused on priorities identified in the Farm Animal Integrated Research 2012 (FAIR 2012) report. The new program is part of an expanded Section 1433, which has traditionally been a formula-based fund for animal health and disease. Under the new Farm Bill, Section 1433 is expanded to include a competitive grants program focused on food security, one health and stewardship. The current formula program will continue to operate as it has in the past. The Farm Bill authorizes $25 million per year for Section 1433. The first $5 million in appropriations will go to the formula fund ($4 million was allocated in fiscal year 2014). For all funds above $5 million, 85 percent will go to the new competitive grants program and 15 percent will go to the formula fund.
In addition to the new competitive grants program for animal science, the Farm Bill also establishes the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). FFAR will be a non-governmental foundation designed to attract new private investments in agricultural research. The bill provides $200 million in seed money to start the foundation.
FASS joined over 60 other agriculture organizations in sending a letter to Farm Bill conferees thanking them for including the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in the recently passed Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes the establishment of FFAR, which will be a non-governmental foundation designed to attract new private investments in agricultural research. The bill provides $200 million in seed money to start the foundation.
During the week of February 24th, the National Academies of Science (NAS) posted committee and meeting materials for the upcoming study entitled “Sustainability Considerations for the Future of Animal Agriculture Science Research”. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for March 10th and a draft agenda can be found by clicking here. Dr. Mary Beck, co-chair of the FAIR 2012 process and Head of the Poultry Science Department at Mississippi State University, is scheduled to address the panel regarding the results of the FAIR 2012 process. Other speakers include representatives from study sponsoring organizations, industry and NGOs. NAS has also posted the proposed committee members, many of whom are members of FASS founding societies.
On February 8th, FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel met with the ADSA Board of Directors at their mid-year meeting. Lowell briefed the board on FASS activities in Washington, including updates on the Farm Bill, budget and NAS study on animal science. Lowell also discussed the ongoing work of the FASS Science Policy Committee.