September, 2021

    October 22, 2021

     

    DC Updates
    Where are we on needed action to keep the doors of government open and provide funding for the future? As in most years, budget action seems to be an endless process. Deadlines arrive and are generally pushed back to allow further negotiation. Currently there are signs of progress on infrastructure, the budget, the debt ceiling, and more, but few final actions. As noted in previous reports, the Senate has passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that is focused on roads, bridges, and similar items while the House has addressed agency budgets. The federal fiscal year ended September 30, so some type of action was required. Just before the deadline, both houses passed and the president signed a continuing resolution that funds agencies through December 3. It basically funds agencies at the same level as the last budget, but among a limited number of additions, it does include $10 billion in disaster aid for farmers and ranchers. Short-term action has also been taken on the debt ceiling to raise it to a level expected to be adequate until early to mid-December, when further action will be needed.

    House and Senate Democrats are continuing to negotiate the language and funding level for the budget reconciliation package that is expected to include a variety of the party's social goals for agriculture, including immigration, conservation, school lunches, research, and farmer debt relief. Both the funding level and the actual items that will be included are yet to be defined.

    A reminder: USDA Is Seeking Comment on Animal Cell Culture Technology
    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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 Joins Coalition Letters
    FASS works through various coalitions to provide information to legislators and the public on the value of agricultural research, the need for ongoing funding for research, and the importance of the use of the results. The following are recent examples of these activities:

    • FASS joined over 130 other science-focused groups in a coalition letter to majority leaders in Congress, urging them to prioritize and protect the vital investments in agricultural climate research, agricultural innovation, and agricultural research infrastructure in the Build Back Better human and climate infrastructure package. (October 14, 2021)
    • FASS joined 34 other science, technology, engineering, medicine, and mathematics organizations and institutions in urging congressional leaders to include the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2021 as part of a larger competitiveness package moving forward. (September 14, 2021)

    You can find these and past letters on the FASS Website under Science Policy.

    FASS-ADSA Seminar on the 2023 Farm Bill
    The FASS Science Policy seminar "The 2023 Farm Bill - Perspectives and Priorities for Animal Research" was held October 12-13 as part of the ADSA Annual Meeting fall webinar series. A powerful lineup of speakers participated:

    • Mr. Hubert Hamer, Acting USDA Chief Scientist and Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics
    • Dr. Sally Rockey, CEO, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)
    • Dr. Ed Murphy, American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) and Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Government Relations Division
    • Ms. Caron Gala, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)
    • Dr. Paul Kindstedt, ADSA President
    • Dr. Jim Quigley (chair), FASS Science Policy Committee

    The speakers provided information about their organizations and their policy work. From USDA and Congress, we heard of the value of scientists and science organizations being involved and speaking out. All speakers emphasized the need for collaboration and coordination.

    If you registered for the 2021 ADSA Virtual Annual Meeting, you have access to the recording for this and the other webinars in the webinar series. To access the recordings, visit the Annual Meeting site and then log in to access the Webinars in the Program area. Check your email for a promotional code that was emailed separately. We hope to be able to make the information more widely available in preparation for the Farm Bill.

    Status of USDA Appointees
    Things are beginning to move, with the most recent activity being the confirmation on October 7 of Xochitl Torres Small to serve as Under Secretary for Rural Development. Below is an overview of the situation as of October 10:

    Six confirmed: Secretary Tom Vilsack; Deputy Secretary Jewel H. Bronaugh; General Counsel Janie Simms Hipp; Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jennifer Moffitt; Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong; and Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small.

    Five at Senate: Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie; Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Homer Wilkes; Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young; Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Adrienne Wojciechowski; and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Margo Schlanger.

    Four positions have no nominee yet named.

    FASS Science Policy Committee
    The FASS Science Policy Committee meets 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
    keolson@prodigy.net