March, 2019

    April 11, 2019


    USDA Seeks NAREEE Advisory Board Nominations
    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the opening of the solicitation for nominations to fill vacancies on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board and its subcommittees. There is one vacancy on the NAREEE Advisory Board, nine vacancies on the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council, three vacancies on the Specialty Crop Committee, and eight vacancies on the Citrus Disease Subcommittee. All nomination materials should be submitted in a single, complete package and received or postmarked by April 26, 2019. The nominee’s name, resume or CV, completed and signed Form AD-755, and any letters of support must be submitted via one of the following methods: (1) by email (preferred) to; (2) by fax to 202-720-6199; or (3) by mail delivery service to REE Advisory Board Office, US Department of Agriculture, Jamie L. Whitten Building, Room 332-A, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-2255.

    For more information, visit the committee website:

    FASS Joins Calls in Support of Genome to Phenome Initiative, Section 1433 Programs, and Other Research Programs in FY20 Budget
    The FY19 budget that was recently finalized only runs through September 30. This means it is important to again be in contact with members of Congress, especially those on the appropriations committees, to make known needs for the FY20 budget. Highlighting the value of past research to producers and the public as we outline needs for the future is critical. That is why FASS joins with other agriculture and science-based coalitions to jointly tell about the benefits of and needs for research.

    FASS was among the 101 organizations requesting support of $10 million in appropriations for Section 1433 Continuing Animal Health and Disease, Food Security, and Stewardship Research, Education and Extension Programs in the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill. FASS was also included in the 35 organizations requesting support of $40 million for the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative that was established in the 2018 Farm Bill. The initiative recognizes the critical need for increased federal investment in advanced genomics for agriculturally important plant and animal species. FASS also joined other members of the Animal Ag Coalition in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations and Ag Appropriations subcommittees supporting research, animal health, and food safety programs in the FY20 budget and were among the 70 members of the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA) joining a coalition letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, strongly supporting federal investment in the FY20 budget for the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

    Earlier this month, FASS joined 60 other science advocates from the Supporters of Ag Research (SoAR) in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees requesting $445 million in the FY 2020 budget for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). We also joined 42 other national organizations from the Friends of ARS in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture subcommittees, urging increased funding for USDA ARS in the FY20 budget. In an effort to preserve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, FASS joined 126 other national and state organizations in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and Labor, urging their support.

    These and other coalition letters that ADSA has joined may be found in the Advocacy section of the ADSA website.

    USDA Reorganization
    An ongoing concern is the USDA’s plan to move ERS from the REE Mission area to the Office of the Chief Economist and to move most staff for ERS and NIFA out of the capital region. Report language in the FY19 budget instructed USDA to provide justification for the move, including costs, cost savings, and potential losses as well as anticipated benefits. So far there has been no response to these instructions, but USDA has announced that the number of sites being considered has been halved. They anticipate reducing the list further in May. An added concern for the viability of the agencies is that the administration’s proposed FY20 budget included about a 50% cut in funding for ERS. The administration’s full budget included a 15% cut for USDA. As noted earlier, it is important that members of Congress hear from organizations and individuals about the value of and continued need for research funding.

    FASS SPC Committee Meets
    The FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) met via conference call on March 25. Jim Quigley was elected as chair of the committee for the coming year. The following individuals were named to the committee:

    • Dave McCoy (2021; first three-year term)
    • Raj Murugesan (2021; first three-year term)
    • H. Russell Cross (2021; second three-year term)

    Potential activities at the ADSA Annual Meeting that would increase SPC visibility were discussed. It was felt that more time would be needed to plan and promote a reception or other activity but that could be considered for next year and beyond. The FASS SPC will plan to have and promote scheduled times at the FASS booth. The committee will meet again in the coming weeks to do additional planning.

    FASS Inc. Science Policy Coordination Activities – March 2019

    In addition to the actions noted above, we participated in calls and other communications related to budget needs, concerns over the administration budget proposal, and potential actions relative to USDA’s reorganization plans. This included future coalition letters and testimony for congressional hearings. Through them, we continue to encourage action by Congress to address USDA reorganization plans and an FY20 budget that will meet future needs. One result is that the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on April 11 to review the FY20 funding request and budget justification for the USDA.

    Please contact me if you have questions, ideas, or suggestions on any of these issues. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. We need to work together to maintain a strong and effective national research effort.

    If you are interested in communicating occasionally with members of Congress on issues related to animal agriculture, we are looking for FASS science policy advocates. Please contact me for details.

    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
    FASS Science Policy Coordinator