October, 2016

    November 2, 2016


    Annual One Health Day to be Held November 3rd

    The One Health Commission is coordinating an annual event to recognize the importance of the one health concept. Per the Commission, One Health Day (held annually on November 3rd) is “a day of declaration and action wherever possible to bring global attention to the crucial need and benefits of using trans-disciplinary approaches to complex challenges involving animals, people, and planetary ecosystems.” Through activities and events around the world, One Health Day is designed to give scientists, practitioners and advocates a powerful, unified voice to advance an interdisciplinary effort to address challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, climate change and environmental pollution. More information about One Health Day, along with a list of events (many of which are in the United States) can be found here.

    FFAR Adds Board Members, Holds Public Session

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) held a board meeting the week of October 3rd. During the meeting, the board officially added the following six new members.

    • Doug Cameron- managing director of First Green Partners, an early-stage venture investment company and of Alberti Advisors, a family business focused on innovation and education.
    • Carl Casale- president and chief executive officer of CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation’s largest member-owned cooperative.
    • Gail Christopher- senior advisor and vice president at W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
    • Mehmood Khan- vice chairman and chief scientific officer of global research and development (R&D) at PepsiCo.
    • Pam Marrone- founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, a company Marrone founded to discover and develop natural products for pest management in agriculture and water.
    • Bob Stallman- rice and cattle producer and past president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a nonprofit membership organization with affiliates in 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

    More information on the FFAR board members can be found here.

    As a part of the board meeting, a public session was held to share the latest information on the foundation’s programs and activities. FASS Washington Representative, Lowell Randel participated in the session. FFAR Executive Director, Sally Rockey provided updates on the following programs:

    • New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research - Awards for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research are scheduled to be made in the next four weeks and FFAR is currently fundraising for the next round of solicitations.

    Dr. Rockey also unveiled FFAR’s new challenge areas which will help guide the foundation’s priorities. The seven challenges areas are: Food Waste and Loss, Protein Challenge, Water Scarcity, Innovation Pathway to Sustainability, Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms, Urban Food Systems, and "My Food Plate".

    USDA Advisory Committee on Animal Health Seeking Nominations

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it is seeking nominations for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health (SACAH). SACAH advises the Secretary of Agriculture on strategies, policies, and programs to prevent, control, or eradicate animal diseases. According to USDA, the committee considers agricultural initiatives of national scope and significance and advises on matters of public health, conservation of national resources, stability of livestock economies, livestock disease management and traceability strategies, prioritizing animal health imperatives, and other related aspects of agriculture. The committee will be comprised of up to 20 members from across the agricultural community, including producers, processors, marketers, researchers, State and Tribal agricultural agencies and trade associations. Members serve for a term of two years.

    USDA is soliciting nominations from interested organizations and individuals. An organization may nominate individuals from within or outside its membership. Individuals may nominate themselves or someone else. Nomination forms are available by clicking here and are due by November 28, 2016.  More information on the SACAH can be found here.

    NIFA Holds Data Summit, Announces New FACT Initiative

    On October 10th, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) held a Data Science in Agriculture Summit to discuss to future of data in agriculture and build on existing U.S. government wide-efforts and investments in Big Data. The summit featured leaders in the fields of data science and agriculture and engaged a diverse array of stakeholders to identify new opportunities for data science in agriculture.

    During the summit, NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy announced a new initiative entitled Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT). According to Ramaswamy, the FACT initiative is designed to develop data-driven solutions for addressing complex problems facing agriculture today. Central to FACT is the recognition that analyses of agricultural systems to identify novel solutions require multi-scale data, machine learning, data visualization, and predictive modeling. These efforts will require transdisciplinary teams to work across scientific, economic, environmental, industrial, and political spheres.

    NIFA is encouraging stakeholders to use an “Ideas Engine” to identify opportunities to advance data science in agriculture.  Suggested areas include:

    • Data-driven advances in agriculture and the food production system;
    • Cross-sector advances in data applications;
    • Data-driven advances to address societal well-being and consumer demands;
    • Data management and application;
    • Developing a data literate workforce and end-user; and
    • Big data in communication, property rights, and communities

    The deadline for providing input through the “Ideas Engine” is October 31, 2016.

    FSIS Seeks Input on Animal Raising Claims

    On October 5th, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) published guidance in the Federal Register related to documentation needed to substantiate animal raising claims for label submission. The updated guideline reflects FSIS's current position and procedures for reviewing animal-raising claims and includes explanations of animal-raising claims that FSIS may approve and the types of supporting documentation that the Agency requires to be submitted to support these claims.  The changes included in this version of the guideline include definitions for frequently used animal-raising claims, the detailed supporting documentation required for each specific claim that appears on the label, additional information regarding the claim grass fed, information required for duplicating raising claims from purchased product, and examples of labels bearing claims. Public comments are due by December 5, 2016. More information on the guidance can be found here.

    Administration Proposes Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology

    Last year, the Obama Administration initiated an effort to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology with the goal to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system for biotechnology products and to improve the transparency, predictability, coordination, and, ultimately, efficiency of that system. As part of the effort, the Administration issued a memo tasking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with:

    • clarifying the current roles and responsibilities of the EPA, FDA, and USDA in the regulatory process;
    • developing a long-term strategy to ensure that the Federal regulatory system is equipped to efficiently assess the risks, if any, of the future products of biotechnology; and
    • commissioning an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products.

    This process has resulted in the publication of an update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. The update to the framework details of the roles and responsibilities of the three principal regulatory agencies with respect to the regulation of biotechnology products and outlines for stakeholders the regulatory process and structure. A copy of the updated framework can be found here.

    ARS and NIFA Holding Animal Health Stakeholder Webinar Series

    The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are continuing their efforts to solicit stakeholder input on priorities for animal health research. As a part of this process, the agencies will be hosting a series of webinars to identify, discuss, and prioritize the most pressing research, education and extension needs of our animal health stakeholders. Registration is on a “first come, first served” basis, so those interested are encouraged to registered early to ensure a spot on the webinar. Below is a listing of the scheduled webinars with hyperlinks to the registration for each. More information on the webinar series can be found here.

    Tuesday, Oct 20, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Oct 20, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Oct 25, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Tuesday, Oct 25, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Oct 27, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Oct 27, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 1, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 1, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Nov 3, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Nov 3, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Thursday, Nov 10, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Thursday, Nov 10, 1:30 – 4:30 pm
    Tuesday, Nov 15, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm