June 26, 2023
Visit with the FASS Science Policy Committee
The ADSA Annual Meeting is coming soon (June 25 - 28) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. We hope that you will be attending. As you plan your schedule, please include time while you are in the Exhibit Hall to stop by the FASS display (booth #603). Members of the FASS Science Policy Committee will be there and look forward to visiting with you to get your suggestions on research priorities, research funding, and policy issues. We will also have information about the Science Policy Committee: what we do, how you can help to make a difference in the future, current research priorities and plans, federal legislation that has passed in the past two years that may provide opportunities for you, and information about pending legislation, including the FY24 budget and the Farm Bill. We are looking for committee members and advocates for science, so please come and visit.
Finally, the necessary pieces are starting to move on the debt ceiling, the FY24 budget, and the Farm Bill. The bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act passed the House on May 31 by a 314 - 117 vote and cleared the Senate late on June 1 by a 63 - 36 vote. The agreement suspends the nation's $31.4 trillion debt limit through January 1, 2025, in exchange for various spending reforms.
There are several provisions that may affect agriculture and higher education, but there is still a good deal of uncertainty as to what the full impact will be. The item that will likely have the greatest impact are caps on nondefense spending, which will remain relatively flat in fiscal year 2024 and increase by 1% in fiscal year 2025, after certain adjustments to appropriations are made. After the 2025 fiscal year, there will be no budget caps, just unenforceable appropriations targets.
The package calls for temporary broadening of work requirements for certain adults receiving food stamps. However, the package will also expand exemptions for veterans, people who are experiencing homelessness, and former foster youth in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, as food stamps are formally known). According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill, the participant mix may change, but the provisions are projected to boost enrollment by 78,000 people in an average month when fully implemented. All changes will end in 2030.
Under the package, borrowers will have to begin paying back their student loans at the end of the summer, as the Biden administration has already announced, and the legislation will prohibit the administration from extending the pause in payments again. In addition, the package will maintain Biden's plan to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief for qualifying borrowers.
According to the White House talking points, the legislation will not make any changes to the Inflation Reduction Act's climate and clean energy provisions. This should be positive for research, as it includes funding that is outside of the Farm Bill.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has told reporters that the bill "takes the issue of SNAP work requirements off the table. So, that's just one less issue we're going to have to negotiate" in the Farm Bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) has said, "I think it helps the Farm Bill process, absolutely." However, he suggested that the House may still consider changes to SNAP work requirements as it proceeds through the Farm Bill debate.
There is a good deal of work to do, as both the current Farm Bill (passed in 2018) and the FY23 budget expire on September 30, 2023, unless extended. Speaking up for both in the coming weeks and months is important.
One of the ways FASS speaks up is through joining coalition letters with other supporters of science and by our participation in the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research. Since January, we have joined six coalition letters that have been submitted to Congress relative to the Farm Bill and the FY24 budget and have three additional letters waiting to be submitted. As a reminder, current requests for the FY24 Budget include the following:
Provide $2.080 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Research, providing increased support for all of the capacity programs, which are fundamental to the extramural research, education, and Cooperative Extension system. This includes
- $300 million in FY2024 for the Hatch Act account, which supports 1862 land-grant university federal - state partnerships
- $108 million in FY2024 for the Evans-Allen account to provide capacity funding for food and agricultural research at the 1890 land-grant universities and Tuskegee University
- $17.5 million for the Tribal College Research Program, which helps protect reservation forests, woodlands, grasslands, and crops, and monitors the quality of soil, water, and other environmental factors
- $46 million to support McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry research, which investigates carbon sequestration, the development of bio-based products, and the prevention of forest fires
- $420 million in Smith-Lever3(b) and 3(c) funds to support the Cooperative Extension System
- $88 million for the Extension Services of 1890 land-grant universities
- $17.5 million in FY2024 for Tribal Colleges Extension
Provide $500 million in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is the USDA's premier competitive research program and supports fundamental and applied research to address key problems of local, regional, national, and global importance in conventional, organic, and urban agricultural systems.
Provide $500 million in funding for the Research Facilities Act
A 2021 Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities report found that 70% of research facilities at US public agricultural colleges are at the end of their useful lives, with $11.5 billion in deferred maintenance. The Research Facilities Act allows for the construction of modern facilities at colleges that support agricultural research, which will increase pest and disease preparedness and the use of advanced technologies nationwide.
Provide $1.95 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
As the USDA's principal in-house research agency, ARS advances scientific knowledge through its four national program areas: nutrition, food safety and quality; animal production and protection; natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems; and crop production and protection. As one of the only funding sources available for long-term agricultural research, the ARS labs and research sites foster synergistic research collaborations across scientific disciplines and geographic locations. This funding would also help address ARS infrastructure improvements critical to carrying out its research responsibilities.
Provide at least $50 million in funding for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority
Advanced research agencies have been effectively deployed in defense, energy, and health to tackle the biggest challenges facing the industries in novel and groundbreaking ways. Established in the 2018 Farm Bill and modeled after successful advanced research agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, when funded, the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority will foster research, development, and technology transfer, resulting in significant benefits across the US food and agriculture value chain.
Provide $10 million for the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative
Established in the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative focuses on collaborative scientific engagement and building a community of researchers across both crops and animals that will lay the foundation for expanding our knowledge of genomes and phenomes (traits) that are vital to the US agricultural industry.
These are "asks" and will not be easy to get, but they are impotent for future research, so join our efforts.
Animal Disease and Preparedness
As a result of the first-ever National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) Tribal Funding Opportunity, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is awarding $566,626 to support four new cooperative agreements with tribal partners. These projects will enhance these tribes'--and our nation's--animal disease response capabilities and strengthen APHIS' relationships with these partners.
In October 2022, APHIS announced the availability of funding for proposals in the first-ever NADPRP Tribal Funding Opportunity. NADPRP addresses the risk of introduction and spread of high-consequence animal pests and diseases through cooperative or interagency agreements between APHIS and states, universities, livestock-producer organizations, tribal organizations, land-grant universities, and other eligible entities. Together, APHIS and its partners carry out high-value projects that enhance prevention, preparedness, detection, and response to the most damaging emerging and foreign animal diseases that threaten US agriculture.
A full list of NADPRP-funded projects is available on the NADPRP website here.
The 2018 Farm Bill provided funding for these programs as part of an overall strategy to help prevent animal pests and diseases from entering the United States and reduce the spread and impact of potential disease incursions through advance planning and preparedness. More information about these programs is available here.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture Research Invests $9.5 Million to Promote Innovation in Animal Reproduction
The Animal Reproduction Program is a priority within the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative projects that focus on enhancing gonadal function, evaluating transcriptomics in sperm, preventing pregnancy loss, and improving estrus response to enhance fertility in livestock and aquacultured food animals. The 2022 awardees are
- Auburn University (two awards)
- The Pennsylvania State University
- Syracuse University
- Texas A&M AgriLife Research (two awards)
- University of California, Davis
- University of Kentucky
- University of Missouri
- University of Nebraska - Lincoln
- University of Rhode Island
- University of Tennessee - Knoxville (two awards)
- University of Wisconsin - Madison
- USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Washington State University (two awards)
Click here to learn more about the funded projects.
FASS Science Policy Committee
The FASS Science Policy Committee meets via Zoom. The group continues to make progress on reviewing and updating existing FASS Science Policy Statements, identifying and developing new needed policies, planning activities to advance animal agriculture research funding, and encouraging 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 and, if possible, stop to visit at the ADSA Annual Meeting. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. We need to work together to maintain a strong and effective national research effort.
We are looking for individuals interested in serving on the Science Policy Committee. Terms are for three years, with an opportunity to renew for an additional term. We are also looking for FASS Science Policy advocates who know and will occasionally communicate with their members of Congress on issues related to animal agriculture. Please contact me for details or with any questions on items in the report.
Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
FASS Science Policy Coordinator