March 14, 2022
FASS Science Policy Committee Activity Highlights
The FASS Science Policy Committee (SPC) advocates for science-based policymaking, increased funding for animal agriculture research, and the value and importance of animal science and animal scientists in ensuring humane, sustainable, and safe animal food production in a variety of ways. This includes participation with other science-related groups in letters to Congress or the administration, comments/testimony, webinars, and policy statements.
FASS is a member of the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NCFAR). Over the years, NCFAR has hosted tens of thousands of attendees at hundreds of seminars and webinars. The goal of these signature events is to educate and empower staff on Capitol Hill and policy stakeholders about the value of public investment in food and agricultural research. NCFAR's popular "Lunch-n-Learn" series and webinars feature experts from institutions across the country sharing their expertise on a wide range of topics. In 2021, the FASS SPC nominated a webinar titled "Animal Protein: From Pen/Feedlot/Barn or From a Petri-Dish/Lab?" You can view a recording on the FASS or NCFAR website.
In preparation for the 2023 Farm Bill, the FASS SPC also organized and conducted a webinar for the ADSA Virtual Annual Meeting that included many high-profile presenters:
Fass Science Policy Committee: The 2023 Farm Bill—Perspectives and Priorities for Animal Research
Day 1: October 12, 2021 - Government Perspective
- Introduction: Jim Quigley, chair, FASS SPC
- Priorities and Perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, USDA: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
- Priorities and Perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, Congress: Rep. Jimmy Panetta and Rep. Rodney Davis (House Ag Research caucus)
- Priorities and Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR): Sally Rockey, FFAR
- Wrap-up: Jim Quigley
Day 2: October 13, 2021 - Industry/Academia Perspective
- Introduction: Jim Quigley, FASS SPC
- Priorities and Perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Mark Lutschaunig and Ed Murphey
- Priorities and Perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU): Caron Gala, APLU
- Priorities and Perspectives for the 2023 Farm Bill, ADSA: Paul Kindstedt, ADSA
- Roundtable discussion (all participants), moderated by Jim Quigley
Recordings of both days are on the ADSA Webinar site and individual presentations are available on the ADSANews YouTube channel.
As noted, the FASS SPC works through various coalitions to provide information on the value of agricultural research and the need for ongoing support. Some are formal, long-standing groups like NCFAR, the Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC), and Friends of ARS, whereas others come together on an as-needed basis. In 2021, FASS joined 17 letters to Congress or the administration, a letter of congratulations, and one comment. Copies of the letters are posted here.
FASS Policy Statements are another communication tool. They are designed to articulate carefully considered policy based on scientific evidence related to the given issue in easily understood terminology. The committee reviews and updates current statements and looks at the need to cover new topic areas. We currently have statements on 13 topics. Suggestions of additional topic areas to cover are welcome.
An agreement appears to be in place for the FY22 budget. While not quite final, the text of the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022" has been released. When signed into law, it will provide funding through September 30, 2022 (the end of the fiscal year), for 12 agencies including USDA. The 2,741-page appropriations measure, if approved, would lift a spending freeze that has been in effect since the start of the 2022 fiscal year on October 1, 2021. Under the agreement, most research agencies would see budget boosts of roughly 5% this year. Details will be available after it is finalized. It will also facilitate work that is underway on the FY23 budget. The administration is expected to release their proposal for FY23 in late March. We will be monitoring that and advocating for research funding.
The pace of congressional hearings for the next Farm Bill is expected to pick up. Various coalitions are meeting to finalize priorities for their advocacy in the Bill. As we join coalition actions on the budget, Farm Bill, and other issues, you will find the documents posted on the FASS website under Science Policy.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director Named to Lead University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
The director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Carrie Castille, has been selected to serve as the next senior vice chancellor/senior vice president for the University of Tennessee (UT) Institute of Agriculture. This role oversees and leads the Herbert College of Agriculture, the College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, and UT Extension, while also serving as the university's chief advocate on issues of agricultural policy in support of the state.
Dr. Castille will conclude her service at USDA in April and assume this new role July 1, 2022, pending approval of the UT Board of Trustees Executive Committee. In the interim, USDA and NIFA leaders are working closely together to plan for the agency's leadership transition and ensure operations continue seamlessly to best serve the mission and stakeholders.
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources Announces Seven New Board Members
The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) is the major program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that addresses issues related to the production of food, fiber, and fuel and the stewardship of the natural resources that support those activities. BANR is pleased to announce the appointment of seven new members to a three-year term on the board and the reappointment of six current members to a second term. Their role as board members is to engage with federal, state, and private sector sponsors seeking the National Academies' independent, authoritative advice; to develop and promote the board's own initiatives; and to provide guidance to BANR staff.
Charles (Chuck) Rice, BANR chair, commented, "These appointments broaden the knowledge the board can bring to interdisciplinary topics like resilience and sustainability in the face of climate change, and the health and social dimensions of the food system. BANR's expertise increasingly reflects a cross-sectoral continuum, from core academic disciplines to translational and entrepreneurial activities."
Among the new members is former FASS SPC chair John P. McNamara, professor emeritus of animal sciences, Washington State University. McNamara is a distinguished animal nutritionist who published extensively on dairy, swine, and companion animals. He has been a leader in the education and preparation of science teachers.
ACTION ITEM: Federal Framework for Scientific Integrity
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a second request for information (RFI) to create a "Federal Framework for Scientific Integrity" that builds upon an earlier report, Protecting the Integrity of Government Science. OSTP is seeking information on four key areas: how policies can address important and emergent issues, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; how to evaluate scientific integrity policy content, implementation, outcomes, and impacts; how to ensure effective iterative improvement of federal scientific integrity policy and practices; and how to reinforce the long-term viability and implementation of federal scientific integrity policies and practices throughout the government. Comments are due by April 4.
FASS Science Policy Committee
The FASS SPC meets via Zoom call. The group continues to make progress on updating the FASS Science Policy Statements and planning 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 SPC 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