March/April, 2022

    June 17, 2022

     

    Farm Bill Discussions
    The annual meeting of the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR) was held in Washington, DC, on April 5 followed on April 6 by a roundtable meeting to begin planning for the 2023 Farm Bill. This was hosted jointly with the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR). A panel of congressional staffers, which included Ag Policy representatives of the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, addressed the group to share insights from the Hill on both the Farm Bill and the FY23 Budget. A few key points:

    • It is very early in the process so it is an excellent time to provide input on priorities for the Farm Bill.
    • We can expect a number of field hearings to be held in the coming months.
    • Money is very tight, so don’t expect new funding.
    • Over half of the committee members in both houses and their staff are new and have no prior experience with a Farm Bill, so it is very important to talk to them.
    • Make contact with the offices of your members of Congress to develop relationships and do it throughout the year, not just when legislation is being developed. It is important to work with both agriculture and appropriations committees.
    • Talk about and share examples of the “real world” application and value of the research being funded or requested.
    • Broad coalitions bringing a few key priorities will be most effective.
    • It is important to share cutting-edge research, but also show facilities in need of repair or updates in order to do the needed work.

    During the roundtable discussion it appears that climate change, supply chain, preparedness/resilience, and nutrition/hunger are key issues. To prepare for the next steps, input is being sought on the following questions:

    • Are there particular policy areas we should focus on, such as climate, nutrition, or a diverse talent pipeline?
    • What are major opportunities in the next Farm Bill to enhance and strengthen the research title?
    • What are the ag research gaps that, if addressed, would be transformative for agriculture and for farmers?
    • What are the 3 to 5 research areas where additional funding would significantly advance agriculture, creating a breakthrough?

    Please share your ideas and responses to these questions with me so that we can work to include dairy and animal priorities in the discussion: keolson@prodigy.net.

    NCFAR Selects Topics for 2022 Lunch-N-Learn Hill Seminars
    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 expertise on a wide range of topics. Visit https://www.ncfar.org/Education/Webinars for recordings of past sessions. The topics selected for presentation in 2022 were announced at the Annual Meeting. They are

    • The Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies, “The Impact of Climate Change on Agricultural Production and Rural Communities”
    • Purdue, “Evaluating End Use Potential for Process Food Wastes”
    • IFT, “Implementing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommendations from a Multi-Disciplinary Workshop and Roundtable”
    • CRA, “Role of Trade Agreements and US Agriculture Competitiveness”
    • RFF, “Adapting to Climate Change: Wildfire, Outdoor Recreation, and Rural Communities in the Western United States”

    New FFAR Executive Director Announced

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) has announced that Dr. Saharah Moon Chapotin will be FFAR’s next executive director. Chapotin currently serves as the executive director of the United States Botanic Garden. She replaces Dr. Sally Rockey who led FFAR since its inception and retired earlier this year.

    Chapotin is a plant scientist who is passionate about sharing the importance of plants and agriculture. She has more than 15 years of experience in federal leadership, using science to inform policy and advancing agriculture research. Chapotin plans to begin her post as FFAR’s executive director in August 2022. (MORE)

    FASS Joins in Coalition Support of Research Funding
    FASS joined 50 other members of the Friends of the Agricultural Research Service (FARS) Coalition in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees expressing thanks for their support of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in FY 2022 and urging continued support in the FY 2023 budget. A few notes about the letter:

    • The letter requests $1.9 billion for ARS salaries and expense. This is the president’s request and a 14% increase over the FY22 omnibus amount.
    • Included in that amount is $112 million to support NBAF construction and staffing operations as the facility goes fully online.
    • Also included in that amount is $15 million for the Big Data Initiative. This amount was in the FY22 FARS letter and in the FY22 Senate Ag report.

    Earlier FASS joined 28 other organization in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies urging inclusion of full funding in the FY23 Budget to complete modernization of the US Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) located in Madison, Wisconsin. The NWHC is the nation’s only federal BSL-3 facility exclusively dedicated to scientific investigation and research on wildlife diseases that threaten human, animal, and environmental health. Through a comprehensive program involving biomedical and ecological expertise and capabilities, the NWHC is a world leader in developing science-based solutions to some of the most deadly wildlife diseases including avian influenza, white nose syndrome of bats, and other emerging diseases that have devastated wildlife populations around the world and pose significant threats to our food supply and public health.

    FASS also joined over 50 other organization in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture requesting full funding for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA), authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The letter noted that AgARDA is modeled after the successes of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), AgARDA will foster research and development that could result in significant benefits across the United States food and agriculture value chain.

    You can see the full text of all the letters in the FASS.org website: https://www.fass.org/Portals/0/Documents/policy/FY2023_AgARDA_Request_-_final.pdf

    DC Updates
    The “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022” was signed into law on March 15. It provides funding through September 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year, for 12 agencies including USDA. The 2741-page appropriations measure lifts 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 received boosts of roughly 5% in their budget this year. Work is now underway on the FY23 Budget.

    Farm Bill
    Congressional hearings for the next Farm Bill have begun. 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.

    House Appropriations Mark-Up Schedule
    CQ and Politico report the House Appropriations Committee expects to mark up spending bills in June, with subcommittee mark ups taking place between June 13 and June 22, and full committee mark-ups to follow from June 22 through June 30. Under this timeline, a floor vote would occur in July. FASS is working with coalition partners to advocate for research funding. Letters and testimony will be posted in the Sconce Policy area of www.fass.org

    White House Announces Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September
    For the first time in over 50 years, the White House will host a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health this September. The conference, and the preparatory work leading up to it, is designed to accelerate progress and drive significant change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related disease, and close the disparities around them.

    The first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health in 1969 was a pivotal event that influenced the country’s food policy agenda for the next 50 years. The president sets out to do the same with this year’s conference.

    Leading up to the conference, the Biden-Harris Administration will host listening sessions so that we can hear from every region of the country. Anyone with ideas will soon be able to share their stories to help inform the national plan. For more information, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/HungerHealthConference

    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
    keolson@prodigy.net