August, 2021

    September 24, 2021


    DC Updates
    Congress is back in session after their August recess, with many issues to address. The bipartisan infrastructure package and the budget reconciliation package, which appears likely to get only Democratic support, are two of major interest. Both are progressing but are not yet complete. The $1 trillion infrastructure package was passed in the Senate but awaits a vote in the House.

    House and Senate Democrats are continuing to negotiate the language for the multi-trillion-dollar budget reconciliation package that is expected to include a variety of the party's social goals for agriculture, including immigration, conservation, school lunches, and farmer debt relief.

    The House Agriculture Committee recently completed work on their part of the $3.5 trillion package. According to the committee, strategic investments include investments of $7.75 billion in agricultural research to advance the American food and agriculture system's global competitiveness, innovation, infrastructure, food security, equity, and climate change resilience:

    • Funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR) to leverage public private partnership and deploy solutions to urgent climate and food security challenges
    • Investments in key US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies and programs delivering agricultural innovation and climate research and data, including
      • $54 million for the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS)
      • $250 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
      • $2.586 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
      • $45 million for the Economic Research Service (ERS)
      • $16 million for the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE)
      • $380 million for the Office of the Chief Scientist for Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AGARDA)

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set a deadline of September 15 for committees to complete their work on reconciliation, and progressives want to see the entire package passed before September 27, the date by which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has committed to a House vote on the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill. This appears unlikely to happen on that timeline. At the same time, the government is approaching the debt ceiling, which will need to be addressed.

    Continuing Resolution Likely as Fiscal Year End Approaches
    As the end of the fiscal year, September 30, approaches, Democrats are considering a continuing resolution extending through December 10 to avoid a government shutdown and possibly address the debt ceiling. The House will likely vote on the measure during the week of September 20.

    USDA Seeking Comment on Animal Cell Culture Technology
    >USDA recently announced that it is soliciting comments on labeling for meat and poultry products made using cultured cells derived from animals:

    "This advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step forward in ensuring the appropriate labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology," said Sandra Eskin, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food safety. "We want to hear from stakeholders and will consider their comments as we work on a proposed regulation for labeling these products."

    The public has until November 2 to comment.

    FASS-ADSA Seminar "The 2023 Farm Bill – Perspectives and Priorities for Animal Research"

    We are currently working with speakers for our Science Policy seminar "The 2023 Farm Bill - Perspectives and Priorities for Animal Research" that will be held October 12-13 as part of the ADSA Annual Meeting fall webinar series. The seminar will be presented over 2 days, with presentations within 90-minute sessions on both days from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (eastern daylight time). The focus is on animal agriculture research priorities and funding, with discussion of the most effective ways for scientists to be involved. Speakers from the USDA, Congress, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and ADSA are confirmed. The agenda is as follows:

    October 12: Government perspective

    11:00 to 11:10 a.m.

    Day 1 Introduction

    Jim Quigley, Chair, FASS SPC

    11:10 to 11:40 a.m.

    Priorities and perspectives on animal research, including the 2023 Farm Bill, USDA

    Hubert Hamer, Acting USDA Chief Scientist and Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics (confirmed)

    11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Priorities and perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, Congress

    Rep. Jimmy Panetta, co-chair House Ag Research caucus (confirmed)

    12:20 to 12:30 p.m.

    Wrap up

    Jim Quigley, chair, FASS SPC

    October 13: Industry/academia perspective

    11:00 to 11:10 a.m.

    Day 2 Introduction

    Jim Quigley, chair, FASS SPC

    11:10 to 11:30 a.m.

    Priorities and perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill and animal research, AVMA

    Ed Murphy (AVMA) and Dr. Mark Lutschaunig (AVMA GRD) (confirmed)

    11:30 to 11:50 a.m.

    Priorities and perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, APLU

    Caron Gala, APLU

    11:50 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Priorities and perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, ADSA

    Paul Kindstedt, president of ADSA (confirmed)

    12:20 to 12:30 p.m.

    Roundtable (all participants, live discussion)

    Jim Quigley, chair, FASS SPC

    If you registered for the 2021 ADSA Virtual Annual Meeting, you already have access to this and the five other webinars in the fall series; check your email for a promotional code that was emailed separately. If you weren't able to attend the virtual meeting, it's not too late! Registration for the webinar series is open now.

    Status of USDA Appointees
    With the August recess, there was no new action on filling positions at USDA that require Senate confirmation. Below is an overview of the current situation as of September 10:

    Five confirmed: Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Jewel H. Bronaugh, General Counsel Janie Simms Hipp, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jennifer Moffitt, and Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong.

    Five at Senate: Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Homer Wilkes, Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young, and Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Adrienne Wojciechowski.

    Five positions have no nominee yet named.

    Secretary Vilsack Responds to Coalition Letter
    Earlier this year ADSA joined 138 other scientific societies, universities, producer groups, and other science-based organizations in a letter congratulating Thomas J. Vilsack on his confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture and urging him to continue supporting increased public investments in agricultural research and development programs. Secretary Vilsack recently responded, saying:

    "I appreciate your efforts to support and increase awareness of the importance of agricultural research and support for increased public investment in food and agricultural research and scientific innovation. I agree that agricultural research is key to our success in combating climate change and helping farmers and ranchers meet their needs."

    Copies of these and past letters are available in the COALITION LETTERS section of the SCIENCE POLICY area of Additional letters are planned as the budget process moves forward and will be included in this area as well.

    FASS Science Policy Committee
    The FASS Science Policy Committee meets monthly via Zoom call. The group continues to make progress on updating the FASS Science Policy Statements. Please contact me if you have questions, ideas, or suggestions on any of these or other policy 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 serving on the Science Policy Committee or 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