August 4, 2016
FASS Washington Representatives Walt Smith and Lowell Randel participated in the recent Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) in Salt Lake City. They provided an update to the ADSA Board of Directors, as well as spending time in the FASS booth in the exhibit hall. The FASS Science Policy Committee also met during JAM to discuss emerging policy issues and refine the committee’s policies and procedures.
On July 20th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a blog post entitled "An Agriculture Workforce for the 21st Century." The post details challenges facing U.S. agriculture, specifically with regards to workforce shortages, and issues a public Call to Action to meet these challenges through targeted investments in food and agriculture education, outreach, and academic research.
OSTP is interested in hearing from stakeholders including companies; academic institutions and schools; non-profit organizations; commodity groups; scientists and scientific societies; youth groups; and others on the steps they will take to:
- Address workforce shortages
- Broaden and diversify the agriculture workforce
- Make investments in education and outreach programs
- Support academic research and training
To participate in the OSTP process, e-mail your submission to email@example.com by August 31, 2016 and include "Ag Workforce" in the subject line.
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Office of the Chief Scientist held a stakeholder webinar on July 19th to discuss, prioritize, and develop strategies to help meet the most pressing animal health research education and extension needs related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). FASS Washington Representative Lowell Randel participated in the webinar.
The goal of the webinar was to identify AMR Research, Education and Extension priorities for the next 5 years from the perspective of animal agriculture. Five major themes were discussed including:
- Risk Analysis
- Optimizing Antibiotic Therapy
- Alternative Approaches to Health
- "One Health" Challenges
- Underserved/represented Groups
USDA will now review and analyze of all comments provided via webinar or other mediums and develop a final report. The report is expected to be completed in 2017 and will be used to inform the development of RFAs and scientific priorities.
NIFA and ARS are planning to conduct additional stakeholder sessions through the fall of 2016 on 13 additional topics related to animal health. FASS plans to participate in these sessions as the process moves forward.
On July 13th, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced that it has established the first-ever National Academy of Sciences (NAS) prize dedicated to food and agriculture research. The new prize is endowed by FFAR and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will enable the prize to be awarded in perpetuity.
Beginning in 2017, NAS will recognize one annual prize recipient for an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. The prize may also be shared by one or more individuals for a collaborative accomplishment. Winners of the prize will be awarded $100,000.
The prize is targeting "mid-career" scientists, which is defined as no more than 20 years since Ph.D. completion. For the purposes of the prize, areas of science with applications to agriculture include plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science, soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. Nomination requirements and submission instructions can be found by clicking here. Applications are due by October 3rd.
On July 7th, the Senate voted by a margin of 63-30 to approve legislation that would establish a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products. The House followed suit by passing the bill on July 14th by a vote of 306 – 117. The legislation establishes a federal policy on labeling of GMO food products and preempts state laws like the one passed in Vermont and sets national policy for labeling of products with GMO contents. Companies will have the option to include an on-package statement about GMO contents, or point consumers to a website for more product information. Products from animals that consume GMOs would not be subject to any labeling requirements.
The legislation, now approved by both chambers of Congress, will be prepared and sent to the President for his expected signature. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the legislation, despite the White House receiving a petition with over 100,000 signatures urging his veto. The text of the legislation can be found here.