September 28, 2022
The July Policy report highlighted several major legislative actions taken by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. Most include funding for research as a major component. Unfortunately, the funding is almost never available immediately but does provide future opportunities. It means that moving forward, we need to keep watch to ensure that it does arrive.
The August recess, primary elections, and campaigning for the November mid-term elections have and are likely to limit legislative action until after the November election. The FY22 budget runs through September 30. This means that we will need one or more continuing resolutions to keep agencies operating until budgets are passed. Relative to agriculture, the House has passed and the Senate introduced budgets that are very favorable to research. It is important to let candidates know, and elect candidates who believe, that this funding is critical to the future.
Farm Bill Update
An integral part of the oversight and review process of the 2018 Farm Bill and further preparation for the 2023 Farm Bill is getting direct input from producers, stakeholders, and consumers on how various farm bill programs are working for them.
While there is a long way to go, work is progressing on development of the 2023 Farm Bill with hearings and listening sessions taking place in Washington, DC, and around the country. Members of Congress are scheduling listening sessions in their states or districts to receive input directly from their producers and the public on priorities for the farm bill. These sessions offer opportunities to share the importance of, value of, and need for research. Recordings of some of the sessions are available on the House Agriculture Committee website. We are working with the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR) and the Supporters of Ag Research (SoAR) on talking points for use in support of research in the Farm Bill that will be shared widely.
In addition to hearings and listening sessions, House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson are pleased to offer the opportunity for members of the public to submit their feedback and ideas for the 2023 Farm Bill through an online form available here.
Federal Register Notice on Research Disclosure Forms
If you apply for federal research grants, this is likely to impact you. On August 31, the National Science Foundation (NSF) published a notice in the Federal Register soliciting public comments on new common disclosure forms to be used across federal agencies for individuals applying for federal research grants. The NSF is the lead agency for the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) process and is soliciting comments on several documents, among them the common disclosure form and an Excel spreadsheet that summarizes all of the data elements that will be collected in the new form. The NSF posted all of the information and background on its website.
As background, in January 2022, the Biden administration published guidance for federal agencies to implement NSPM-33 related to research security. As instructed, federal agencies have been working through the NSTC Research Security Subcommittee to develop consistent disclosure requirements for federally funded researchers and common disclosure forms for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending (Other) Support sections of applications for federal grants or cooperative agreements. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) posted a blog outlining the NSTC process and engagement with the scientific community.
Public comments on the new disclosure forms are due on October 31, 2022.
USDA Dashboard with Data on SARS-COV-2 Variants Detected in Animals
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will launch an updated web-based dashboard containing information on SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in animals. This data is important as we and researchers around the world work to better understand and combat SARS-CoV-2 and protect animal and human health.
The APHIS scientists, in collaboration with their partners, have studied SARS-CoV-2 in animals through surveillance, testing, and research. The APHIS has confirmed cases in several animal species including cats, dogs, animals in zoos and aquariums, mink, white-tailed deer, and mule deer. The full list of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in US animals can be found on the APHIS One Health website, which now includes the expanded variant data.
Experts at APHIS are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Based on the information available to date, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is low.
FDA Announces Virtual Listening Session on the Regulation of Animal Foods with Certain Types of Claims
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is announcing that registration is now open for a virtual public listening session on the agency’s regulation of animal foods with certain types of claims, such as environmental benefit claims (e.g., reduced greenhouse emissions), production claims (e.g., growth promotion, feed efficiency), and claims about effects on the animal microbiome.
The virtual listening session will take place on October 18, 2022, and offer stakeholders an opportunity to share information and insight with the FDA about the regulation of animal foods with certain types of claims. The listening session will start at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The end time will be determined based on the number of presentations submitted by interested stakeholders.
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 and plan activities to advance animal agriculture research. 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 on that or with any questions on items in the report.
Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
FASS Science Policy Coordinator