On May 30, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced the committee assignments for the Science Breakthroughs 2030 study. Of the 13 committee members, two have specific animal science expertise. The full list of committee members includes
- John D. Floros, Co-Chair—Dean of the College of Agriculture and Director of Research and Extension, Kansas State University
- Susan R. Wessler, Co-Chair—Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, University of California, Riverside; Home Secretary, National Academy of Sciences
- David B. Allison—Distinguished Professor and Quetelet Endowed Professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences School of Health Professions, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Corrie C. Brown—Professor of Anatomic Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia
- Lisa Goddard—Director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University
- Mary Lou Guerinot—Ronald and Deborah Harris Professor in the Sciences in the Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College
- Janet Jansson—Chief Scientist for Biology in the Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- Lee-Ann Jaykus—William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University
- Helen H. Jensen—Professor of Economics in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University
- Rajiv Khosla—Monfort Professor of Precision Agriculture in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University
- Robin Lougee—Research Lead for Consumer Products and Agriculture, IBM Research, Yorktown Heights, New York
- Gregory V. Lowry—Walter J. Blenko Sr. Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
- Alison L. Van Eenennaam—Cooperative Extension Specialist, Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis
The study is designed to identify compelling future directions for research in food and agriculture. The process is expected to take approximately one year and will result in a report describing ambitious and achievable scientific pathways to addressing major problems and creating new opportunities for the food and agriculture system. Major support for the study is provided by the SoAR Foundation, the Foundation on Food and Agriculture Research, and other agricultural research stakeholders.
More information on the study can be found on the Science Breakthroughs 2030 website.
On May 23, President Trump released his full budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The proposal provides additional details beyond the budget blueprint announced in March. The overall budget proposes a $57.3 billion reduction in discretionary programs, including a decrease of $4.8 billion in USDA discretionary spending. This represents a proposed cut of approximately 21% for USDA. The proposal also includes significant reductions in mandatory spending by changing policies related to nutrition and crop insurance programs.
Agricultural research supported by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) fares somewhat better than other areas within USDA. Many programs administered by NIFA are proposed at or near FY 2017 levels. Hatch and Smith-Lever capacity funds would receive level funding. However, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is proposed to receive $350 million, which is $25 million below the final appropriations for FY 2017. ARS would face larger reductions than NIFA, with research programs receiving over $100 million less. ARS livestock production would go from $87 million down to $75 million, and livestock protection would be reduced from $93 million to $92 million.
The President’s proposal was met with bipartisan criticism in many areas and has been called “dead on arrival” by some. Congress will now move forward with its process to craft the annual appropriations bills. The full USDA Budget Summary can be found here.
On May 24, FASS, along with 168 other organizations, sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to protect federal investments in science. The letter, led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was developed in response to President Trump’s budget proposal that includes significant cuts across a variety of federal science programs. The letter cites proposed cuts to NIH, NSF, DOE, USDA, EPA, NOAA, NIST, USGS, portions of DOD and NASA, and other agencies that would cripple the science and technology enterprise, severely harming discovery science programs and critical mission agencies alike. A copy of the letter can be found here.
FASS joined over 60 national and state organizations in sending two letters to Congress urging investment in critical animal agriculture programs. The first letter requests that Congress invest $25 million annually in mandatory funding for Sec. 1433, Continuing Animal Health and Disease Programs. The authority under Sec. 1433 was expanded in the last Farm Bill to include a competitive grants research program. Investing mandatory resources through the Farm Bill would enable the competitive grants mechanism to move forward to support high-priority animal science.
The second letter proposes creation of a new Animal Pest and Disease Disaster Prevention and Response Program. The program would provide a proactive and concerted preventative “boots on the ground” effort focusing on early detection and rapid response to protect the nation’s animal agriculture industry. It is envisioned that this program would be structured to take full advantage, through support and collaboration, of the science generated by Sec. 1433. Congress is requested to provide $70 million annually for the new program, as well as $30 million annually to support the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).
The combined efforts will help bring together the federal government with states, industry, universities, and other interested groups to reduce the impact of high-consequence animal diseases, provide rapid detection and response capabilities to respond to animal diseases, develop disease prevention and mitigation technologies including vaccines, prevent the entrance and spread of foreign animal diseases into the United States, and identify and support critical research needs.
On May 11, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced plans to reorganize the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The plan includes the creation of a new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. The new position was called for in the 2014 Farm Bill to elevate trade policies and programs within the USDA. The Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) would move from its current mission area to be under the leadership of the newly created Under Secretary. The Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service would be located within a newly named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which is to focus on domestic agricultural issues. The plan also calls for USDA’s Rural Development Programs to report directly to the Office of the Secretary. Perdue stated that this move highlights the critical importance of these programs to the success of rural America. A copy of the reorganization plan can be found here.
On May 1, Congressional leaders announced that they had reached a deal on funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. The House and Senate passed the legislation with broad bipartisan support, and President Trump signed the bill into law on May 5. The omnibus spending package provides over $1 trillion in funding.
The package funds all aspects of the federal government, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Within the USDA research accounts, the Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.170 billion, an increase of $27 million over FY 2016. Included in this increase are additional funds to support poultry production and health research and workforce development related to the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The bill also includes $99.6 million for ARS Buildings and Facilities to continue funding projects prioritized in the ARS Capital Investment Strategy. For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), most accounts were funded at the same level as last year, the major exception being the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which received a $25 million increase from $350 million to $375 million. A summary of selected key accounts is listed below:
FY 2016 – FINAL
FY 2017 – House
FY 2017 - Senate
FY 2017 – FINAL
Agricultural Research Service
ARS Buildings and Facilities
NIFA Research and Education
$375 million (discretionary)
$375 million (discretionary)
$375 million (discretionary)
Expanded Section 1433
NIFA Extension Activities
NIFA Intergrated Activities
A copy of the omnibus bill can be found here.