September, 2022

    October 17, 2022

     

    Congress returned to session after the August recess. With the approaching mid-terms, legislative action was limited, but one accomplishment was passage of the Continuing Resolution (CR) needed to keep the government in operation. Since our focus is on research priorities and research funding, it is encouraging to note that this Congress and administration were more supportive of funding these areas than any others in recent memory.

    Several major pieces of legislation were passed and signed into law this session that do include major research components. It is worth noting also that most had bipartisan support. Major bills included the following:

    • Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan
    • American Rescue Plan
    • Chips and Science Act
    • Inflation Reduction Act

    The next hurdle will be to ensure that the funding authorized in these bills is appropriated so that they can be fully implemented.

    Budget Update
    Fiscal year 2023 began on October 1 and none of the 12 appropriation bills for the year have been enacted yet. As a result, a CR was passed and signed into law by President Biden on September 30 that avoided a government shutdown and provided temporary funding for government operations (plus some supplemental funding for other purposes).

    The CR runs through December 16, which means additional action will be required shortly after the mid-terms. FASS and many other supporters of research are urging Congress to move quickly to complete the FY23 Budget, noting the uncertainty created by short- and long-term continuing resolutions has significant negative impacts on the research enterprise. They do not provide the direction needed to prioritize investments in programs and infrastructure. They also leave the recently passed legislation, which includes important research, unfunded. For these same reasons many groups are urging the administration to move quickly on introduction of the FY24 budget and that it include significant increases for research.

    A Stakeholder Input Opportunity
    The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking input from stakeholders regarding research, Extension, and education priorities for the agency, whose mission is investing in and advancing agricultural research, Extension, and education to solve societal challenges. The listening effort will focus on the agricultural science that NIFA invests in, and not on NIFA processes or procedures. Stakeholders are asked to provide feedback on following topics:

    • What are your top priorities for research, Extension, or education for NIFA?
    • What are the most promising opportunities/solutions for advancement of these food and agricultural priorities?
    • What are the greatest challenges that you see facing food and agriculture in the coming decades, and what fundamental knowledge gaps exist that limit the ability of research, Extension, and education to respond to these challenges?
    • Based on those challenges, what general areas of food and agricultural research should be advanced and supported to fill the knowledge gaps, and what is your top priority for research, Extension, and/or education for NIFA investment?
    • How accessible do you find information about NIFA programs and activities to be?
    • What can NIFA do to make information and resources more accessible?
    • What is NIFA doing right, and are there opportunities to improve?

    Submission of stakeholder input to the above topics was open upon publishing of the Federal Register Notice and will be open through 5 p.m. ET on November 30.

    To submit input you are invited to emailNIFAListens@usda.gov and include the following:

    • Your name
    • Organization
    • Contact information
    • Your input in plain text in the body of the email

    A full-day listening session will take place on November 2. The session will begin at 8:30 a.m. and is scheduled to end no later than 6 p.m. ET. The session will include a presentation of the goals and background information on NIFA programs, followed by comments from stakeholders. Each registered speaker will receive five minutes to share their comments with the agency. Click here to register for the session.

    Much of this same information requested by NIFA will be useful in developing Farm Bill priorities. We encourage you to share your comments with the FASS Science Policy Committee.

    White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

    The “White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health,” held on September 28, 2022, provided an introduction to the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health that was released earlier in the week by the administration. It is a bipartisan effort to address these societal challenges. The stated goal is to “end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, so that fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.”

    It’s been more than 50 years since the first and only previous White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was held in 1969. That pivotal event helped galvanize actions that included the creation of programs such as school lunches, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and changes to how we label foods.

    Click here to see the full strategy. YouTube videos of the conference are available at https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/white-house-conference-hunger-nutrition-and-health/conference-streaming/

    To begin implementation of the strategy and build off the enthusiasm of the conference, the White House will hold their first post-conference monthly update on Wednesday, October 26. If you would like to participate, here are the details:

    White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health Monthly Update
    Date: Wednesday, October 26
    Time: 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT/1:30 p.m. MT/12:30 p.m. PT
    RSVP: https://pitc.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_3MI-Q2pGRYyaIWpezLQtLQ

    ADSA and FASS will be evaluating the most effective ways to participate in this effort and ensure that sound science, along with dairy and animal products, are part of solutions that address hunger and human nutrition.

    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, plan activities to advance animal agriculture research funding, and encourage the use of sound science in decision-making.

    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