2024, April


    May 3, 2024

    DC Updates
    While it seems that most news coverage has been focused on the Trump trials, student protests over the war in Gaza, and weather disasters, some things have been happening in Congress, so we will highlight some of them.

    FY24 Budget - We reported last month that, while six months late, the $460 billion FY24 budget was finally passed and signed into law by President Biden. This provides some short-term certainty and allows more focused work to begin on the FY25 budget (due September 30, 2024) and the Farm Bill (also due September 30, 2024). Here is a brief look at what the budget means for agricultural research.

    While USDA's overall budget for FY24 was essentially flat compared with FY23 levels, this might be considered a "win" in such a tight budget environment. The good news: USDA's in-house research budget for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) received a 2.5% increase to $1.8 billion. While short of the $1.9 billion stakeholders requested, it will enable the ARS to keep pace with inflation and expand research initiatives.

    Unfortunately, other USDA research programs did not fare as well. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) research and education budget fell 1.7% overall, and its flagship competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), saw its budget slashed by nearly $10 million to $445.2 million. Many stakeholder groups had requested $500 million, but this cut rolled back the program's funding to FY22 levels. Other NIFA programs also experienced budget reductions. For example, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative received $2 million and half a million less in funding, respectively.

    In addition, the budget for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA) for which we asked $50 million, was cut to $500,000 from the $1 million the program has received in recent years. Other research programs outside of USDA that are also important for agriculture fared worse. The National Science Foundation suffered an 8.3% cut and the Environment Protection Agency's science and technology program fell by 5.5%. These cuts make it even more important that strong advocacy efforts be made for both the FY25 budget and the Farm Bill.

    FY25 Budget - As noted, the FY24 budget passed in March, but it only runs through September 30, 2024, so there is limited time until the FY25 budget should be in place. The USDA released its proposed budget in March. Due to the debt ceiling agreement, it is very similar to the 2024 budget. FASS and ADSA have joined coalition letters requesting $1.95 billion for ARS, no less than $500 million for AFRI, $50 million for AgARDA, and $66 million to complete modernization of the National Wildlife Health Center. The National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NCFAR), a coalition that we are part of, has included this, plus additional detail on Research, Education, and Economics (REE) needs in testimony for the Appropriations Committees. All letters can be found at this link.

    Farm Bill - Last year, the 2018 Farm Bill was extended for one year. This means that it now will expire on September 30, 2024. After minimal action in the months since the extension, on May 1, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chair Debbie Stabenow and House Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson released their frameworks for the Farm Bill. There is still a long way to go, but this is progress and provides hope that a bill may get done.

    The Senate version provides much more detail. Here is a link to the Senate version:

    Some details on the research section may be found at

    Information on the House version may be found at https://agriculture.house.gov/uploadedfiles/high_level_title_by_title_doc.pdf.

    NCFAR Meeting Annual Meeting
    The Annual Meeting of the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NCFAR) will be held May 6 and 7 in Washington, DC. NCFAR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based, and customer-led coalition we are part of that brings together food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and natural resource stakeholders to serve as a forum and unified voice supporting increased federal investment in USDA Research, Education, and Economics (USDA REE). In addition to organizational business, the meeting will include

    • Keynote - USDA Deputy Under secretary Baig
    • Farm Bill Panel - Congressional staff for Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Boozman, Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Scott

    As part of the event, members will meet nearly 40 members of Congress who are part of the Agriculture or Appropriations committees relative to the Farm Bill and the FY25 Budget. The timing is great for the visits.

    Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Dairy Cows
    Since late March 2024, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state veterinary and public health officials have been investigating the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cows, with one human infection. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is maintaining resources, including a list of detections in cattle to date as well as biosecurity information for farmers, veterinarians, and farmworkers at Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) Detections in Livestock | Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (Also see ADSA's free Dairy Science Weekly newsletter for weekly USDA, FDA, and CDC updates on HPAI detections and resources.)

    On May 1, the FDA announced an additional set of results from its national commercial milk-sampling study, which is underway in coordination with the USDA. The study includes 297 total retail dairy samples. New preliminary results of egg inoculation tests on a second set of 201 quantitative polymerase chain reaction positive retail dairy samples, including cottage cheese and sour cream in addition to fluid milk, show that pasteurization is effective in inactivating highly pathogenic avian influenza.

    This additional preliminary testing did not detect any live, infectious virus. In addition to preliminary results released late last week on an initial set of 96 retail milk samples, these results reaffirm the FDA assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe.

    FDA Clarifies Approach to Genomic Alterations in Animals
    FDA, USDA Establish Memorandum of Understanding to Clarify Roles and Responsibilities for Regulation of Intentional Genomic Alterations in Animals

    On May 1, the FDA took important steps to advance it's regulatory process for intentional genomic alterations (IGAs) in animals. The FDA says the updated guidance documents underscore the agency's commitment to further modernize its approach to evaluating and supporting the development of innovative animal and veterinary products to increase regulatory flexibility, predictability, and efficiency. In addition, the agency established a memorandum of understanding with the USDA to clarify roles and responsibilities for regulation of IGAs in animals. (MORE)

    Science Policy Committee
    Want to impact science policy? The Science Policy Committee (SPC) is looking for additional members to help share the news of the importance of agricultural research for our country and the world with Congress and the public. We invite you to join our efforts in 2024 as we advocate for the increased funding and people needed to do the work.

    The SPC consists of scientists and educators from academia and industry with expertise in multiple species and disciplines. It serves as a leading authority on food animal science research and application and as a respected source of rigorous, peer-reviewed science for policy-makers worldwide. We advocate for science-based policy-making, increased funding for animal agriculture research, and promote the value and importance of animal science research and education in climate-resilient, equitable agriculture in multiple ways.

    Committee terms are for three years, with an opportunity to renew for an additional term. The committee meets via Zoom.

    Please contact me if you are interested in serving on the committee, have questions, ideas, or suggestions on any of these or other policy issues. We will provide additional information on these and other emerging issues as it becomes available. Also plan to visit us at the FASS booth during the ADSA Annual Meeting. We need to work together to maintain a strong and effective national research effort.

    Ken Olson, PhD, PAS
    FASS Science Policy Coordinator