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May 2017

C-FARE Events in Washington, DC

Agricultural and Applied Economics Priorities and Solutions Project Report
A report of research priorities for the agricultural and applied economics profession was generated by the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) as part of the joint Agricultural and Applied Economics Priorities and Solutions Project. An event at the National Press Club celebrating the report highlighted the role of economics in addressing trade, markets, big data and consumer preferences. A link to all the presentations at the event is located here. See the full report here. The priority areas are:

Thank you to all that participated in the development of the report and the resulting event. The profession will use the report to communicate the importance of agricultural and applied economics as well as what it aims to do in the coming years to address grand challenges.

Current Trends in U.S. Farm Income, Farm Income Volatility, and Farmland Values: What’s the story?
There are increasing concerns about the financial health of American farms as the farm sector’s net cash income is expected to decline by 35 percent between 2013 and 2016. Further clouding the picture is that net cash income at the individual farm level can vary more than at the sector level. In addition, farm real estate values likewise reached record highs in 2013 driven by high commodity prices and low interest rates, but are now slowing and in some regions declining. Listen to the panel’s thoughts on the future of farm income


Moderator: Christopher Burns, Agricultural Economist, USDA ERS

Upcoming Events in Washington, DC or Surrounding Areas

NASS Meeting of Expert Panel on Publication of Farm Operator
Tuesday, May 16 – Wednesday, May 17 – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Room 6309, South Building
NASS will be convening a panel of subject matter experts covering a broad range of expertise and interests on May 16- 17, 2017. This meeting will focus on six questions relating to the publication of demographic data obtained from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. During this meeting, the panel will also consider statements provided by the public on data needs relating to demographics. The panel meeting is open to the public. The public is asked to preregister for the meeting at least 10 business days prior to the meeting. Your pre-registration must state the names of each person who will be attending from your group, organization, or interest represented; the number of people planning to give oral comments, if any; and whether anyone in your group requires special accommodations.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) Public Meeting
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Hyatt Regency Crystal City
The Economy-Wide Modeling Panel of the EPA Science Advisory Board has scheduled a public meeting for May 24, 2017 to "... discuss its draft responses on charge questions from the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics and the Office of Air and Radiation on economic analysis for air regulations at the EPA ..." - EPA notes that "... all draft reports developed by SAB panels, committees or workgroups are reviewed and approved by the Chartered SAB through a quality review process before being finalized and transmitted to the EPA Administrator ..."

Competitive Funding Opportunity Webinar
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm & 1:00pm to 2:00pm
This webinar provides an overview of the USDA NIFA competitive grant programs in order to enhance the application success rate of eligible institutions. The 2-part informational webinar is meant to enhance the application success rate of all, with a focus on tips for minority serving institutions.

Request for Applications

Food Safety Outreach Program
Synopsis: Awardees will develop and implement food safety training, education, extension, outreach and technical assistance projects that address the needs of owners and operators of small to mid-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers. Grant applications will be solicited directly from those in local communities - to include those from community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, food hubs, farm cooperatives, extension, and other local groups. Deadline: June 6, 2017; Funding: $4,800,000; Contact: Jodi Williams (jwilliams@nifa,

Supporting Tunisia’s Agribusiness Sector
Synopsis: The program aims to increase the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability in selected value chains and areas of the agribusiness sector to boost agro-food exports – thereby creating employment opportunities. This can be achieved by creating hubs for learning, knowledge sharing about international standards, and for capacity building leveraging the research expertise within the private sector that would potentially bridge gaps between innovation and product marketing.  Deadline: June 8, 2017; Funding: $600,000; Contact: Wajih Hammami (

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative
Synopsis: In FY 2017, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests applications for the AFRI’s Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative (ELI) to support:(1) professional development opportunities for K-14 teachers and education professionals; (2) training of undergraduate students in research and extension; and (3) fellowships for predoctoral and postdoctoral candidates. Deadline: June 28, 2017; Funding: $18,000,000; Contact: Ray A. Ali (

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced funding to support projects that build a foundation of knowledge in agricultural sciences to address a range of societal and global challenges such as food security, food safety, sustainable agriculture, and rural entrepreneurship.

  • Foundational Program - The AFRI Foundational Program supports grants in the six AFRI priority areas to continue building a foundation of knowledge critical for solving current and future societal challenges. The six priority areas are: Plant Health and Production and Plant Products; Animal Health and Production and Animal Products; Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health; Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Agriculture Systems and Technology; and Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities. *See page 42 of 92 of the RFA for the Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) program.  Individual awards are capped at $500,000.* Sub-program categories are listed below.
    • Economics, Markets, and Trade (pg. 44) - Deadline - July 6, 2017
    • Social Implications of Emerging Technologies (pg. 44) - LOI Deadline - June 1, 2017, Application Deadline - August 17, 2017
    • Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (pg. 45) - Deadline - June 15, 2017
    • Small and Medium-Sized Farms (pg. 46) - Deadline - July 28, 2017(Accepting integrated only and research only projects.)
    • Innovation for Rural Entrepreneurs and Communities (pg. 47) - Application Deadline - July 27, 2017 (Accepting integrated only and research only projects.)
  • Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT) - #BigAgData Opportunities - All program area priorities that accept conference grant applications also welcome submission of workshop applications that address the FACT Initiative.
  • Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts Challenge Area (SBEBP) - In FY17 NIFA invites applications for the SBEBP Challenge Area Program. SBEBP program areas are designed to achieve the long-term outcome of reducing our nation's dependence on foreign oil and help meet the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 goal of 36 billion gallons/year of biofuels by 2022. In FY17, the SBEBP is soliciting applications in the following priority areas: (1) Lignin or nano-cellulosic co-products from biomass feedstocks; and (2) Biomass feedstock genetic development and evaluation. Awards Ceiling: $1,000,000, Closing Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017
  • Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area - This AFRI Challenge Area focuses on multidisciplinary systems approaches. Projects are expected to transform how abundant, safe, and nutritious food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed within the limits of available water from traditional and non-traditional sources. Awards Ceiling: $5,200,000, Letter of Intent: Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Closing Date: Wednesday, August 2, 2017
  • Food Safety Challenge Area - The long-term outcome for this program is to support the development and deployment of science based knowledge to improve the safety and nutritional quality of food without sacrificing flavor, acceptability, and affordability. Awards Ceiling: $1,200,000, Closing Date: June 21, 2017
  • Childhood Obesity Prevention Challenge Area - The long-term goal of this Challenge Area is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents ages 2-19 years or any subset of this age range. Awards Ceiling: $2,500,000, Closing Date: June 28, 2017
  • Resilient Agroecosystems in a Changing Climate Challenge Area - In FY17, NIFA will address the understanding of underlying processes, drivers and consequences of land use change, including biophysical and biogeochemical processes, climate feedbacks and environmental outcomes, and social, behavioral, economic and land use interactions. Award Ceiling: $1,200,000, Closing Date: Thursday, July 13, 2017
  • Exploratory Grants Programs - This program area supports research projects that need to develop proof of concept for untested ideas that will lead to creative and positive disruption of the agricultural norm. Estimated Total Program Funding: $2,000,000, Due Date: September 30, 2018
  • Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program - This program supports research and extension projects that have robust collaborations to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields that are relevant to USDA priorities identified by the Secretary. Awards Ceiling: $100,000, Closing Date: Thursday, June 8, 2017
  • Critical Agricultural Research and Extension - LOI Deadline - May 24, 2017

Nominations & Announcements

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is seeking public comments
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is seeking additional public comments on the paperwork and regulatory burdens associated with the collection of "... demographic information on Progress/Final Report about the audiences reached by the research, education, and extension activities funded by the agency as well as additional categories or participants on funded projects ..."  Comments regarding this information collection received by June 1, 2017 will be considered.  Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: OIRA_Submission@OMB.EOP.GOV or fax (202) 395-5806

Revision of Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity: Proposals From Federal Interagency Working Group
OMB requests comments on the proposals that it has received from the Federal Interagency Working Group for Research on Race and Ethnicity (Working Group) for revisions to OMB's Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.  The Working Group's report reflects an examination of current practice, public comment received in response to the Federal Register Notice posted by OMB on September 30, 2016, and empirical analyses of publicly available data. The report also notes statutory needs and feasibility considerations, including cost and public burden. Initial proposals and specific questions to the public appear under the section Issues for Comment.

National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee; Notice of Solicitation for Membership
We are giving notice that the Secretary of Agriculture is soliciting nominations for the National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee.  Nomination packages may also be emailed to For more information contact: Ms. Carrie Joyce, Designated Federal Officer, WS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 87, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-3999. Deadline: June 30, 2017

News & Press Releases

  • May 15, 2017 - Economist Sam Clovis to be REE Chief Scientist - The Trump administration to name Sam Clovis, the current Agriculture Department liaison with the White House, as the department’s chief scientist.  A report in Pro Publica Friday said that the Trump administration is considering naming Clovis, a former college professor, Iowa talk show host and Trump campaign aide, as the Agriculture Department’s undersecretary for research, education and economics, a position that also carries the title chief scientist. The undersecretary position requires Senate confirmation. (source: The Hagstrom Report)
  • May 12, 2017 - Debate Over CRP Acres - One of the bigger and potentially costlier program shifts being pitched for the next farm bill revolves around what to do about the Conservation Reserve Program.  The last two farm bills passed by Congress during the commodity boom lowered the acreage cap in CRP from 37 million acres down to 24 million acres. At least some lawmakers and groups are trying to get CRP acres bumped back up -- for a variety of reasons.
  • May 11, 2017 - Lighthizer confirmed as USTR, completing Trump trade team - Robert Lighthizer, an international trade lawyer schooled in fighting trade battles with China and other countries, easily won Senate confirmation as U.S. Trade Representative, putting in place the last major piece of President Trump’s trade team.  Democrats delayed action on Lighthizer for weeks by insisting that he get a waiver for previous legal work for foreign interests, but most ultimately supported his nomination. The Senate approved the nomination, 82-14, on Thursday with only 10 Democrats, three Republicans and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont voting against him.
  • May 10, 2017 - New Global Data Tool on Agricultural Policies Provides Insight Into Policy Impacts - The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) announced today the launch of the Ag-Incentives Consortium website, a user-friendly online database facilitated by IFPRI, that aggregates agricultural policy data into an interactive tool for guiding more informed policy. The Ag-Incentives Consortium brings together data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.
  • May 10, 2017 - Perdue Reorganizing USDA - Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will announce a reorganization of USDA on Thursday, USDA announced in a media advisory.  The announcement will be made in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Consolidated Grain and Barge, a grain shipping company.  A lobbyist working on grain and transportation issues said, while he did not have direct knowledge of what the reorganization might be about, his "uninformed guess" is that it could be about the creation of an office of an undersecretary for trade.
  • May 9, 2017 - Court holds bee-killing pesticide approvals violated the law - A Federal Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) systematically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – a key wildlife protection law – when it approved bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids. In a case ongoing for the last four years, brought by beekeepers, wildlife conservation groups, and food safety and consumer advocates, Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.
  • May 9, 2017 - Senate Ag posts witness testimony from farm bill hearing - The Senate Agriculture Committee has posted the witness testimony from the farm bill hearing held Saturday in Frankenmuth, Mich. The hearing was entitled “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan.” (source: The Hagstrom Report)
  • May 8, 2017 - Tuna giant Bumble Bee is on the hook for bilking customers - The company has agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of cans and pouches of tuna in the U.S., the Justice Department announced on Monday.  Bumble Bee will also pay a $25 million criminal fine.  "[We] will continue to hold these companies and their executives accountable for conduct that targeted a staple in American households," Andrew Finch, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said in a statement.
  • May 5, 2017 - Sugar caucus sends Trump letter on Mexico problem - Members of the House Sugar Caucus this week sent President Donald Trump a letter urging him to use the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws to force Mexico to make changes to its exports of sugar to the United States.  The caucus noted that the U.S. International Trade Commission had found that the U.S. sugar industry was being injured by dumped and subsidized sugar. The Commerce Department authorized punitive tariffs, but the Mexican and U.S. governments reached agreements to avoid imposition of the tariffs. (source: The Hagstrom Report)
  • May 5, 2017 - ChemChina clinches landmark $43 billion takeover of Syngenta - ChemChina [CNCC.UL] has won more than enough support from Syngenta shareholders to clinch its $43 billion takeover of the Swiss pesticides and seeds group, the two companies said on Friday.  The deal, announced in February 2016, was prompted by China's desire to use Syngenta's portfolio of top-tier chemicals and patent-protected seeds to improve domestic agricultural output. It is China's biggest foreign takeover to date.
  • May 3, 2017 - The government is going to counter ‘misinformation’ about GMO foods - The Food and Drug Administration will fund a campaign to promote genetically modified organisms in food under a bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of September.  The deal to avert a government shutdown allocates $3 million to “consumer outreach and education regarding agricultural biotechnology,” which includes genetic engineering of food and commodity crops. The money is to be used to tout “the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts” of biotech crops and their derivative food products.
  • May 3, 2017 - Report Urges Congress to Save the U.S. Billions in Resources by Tackling Pervasive Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill - The United States spends $218 billion each year on food that is never eaten. The nation's staggering food waste problem reflects chronic inefficiencies in the American food system—40% of food produced in the U.S. ends up in the landfill at the same time that one in seven Americans faces food insecurity. The U.S. currently uses 20% of its agricultural water, cropland, and fertilizers just to produce wasted food. In Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), with support from ReFED and Food Policy Action (FPA), identifies opportunities to reduce food waste that Congress can implement through the next farm bill, the nation's most influential food and agricultural bill, which is up for reauthorization next year.
  • May 3, 2017 - Feinstein, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Shield Farmworkers from Deportation – Senators introduced legislation to shield farmworkers from deportation and put them on a path to earned legal status and eventual citizenship.  Under the Agricultural Worker Program Act, farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in each of the past two years may earn lawful “blue card” status. Farmworkers who maintain blue card status for the next three or five years, depending on the total hours worked in agriculture, would be eligible to adjust to a green card or legal permanent residency.
  • May 2, 2017 - AAEA members launch new project with “direct impact on the environment” - In the ongoing and urgent effort to protect the environment, there are dozens of programs to assist with conservation projects that help both farmers and the land.  Right now the largest of those efforts is the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), with more than 70 million acres of U.S. farmland involved in conservation plans. While that number may seem high, many experts say that isn’t enough – and there may be a simple reason why.
  • May 1, 2017 - Budget deal rejects Trump cuts, omits aid for cotton, dairy - A congressional agreement to fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2017 largely rejects President Trump’s proposed cuts in food aid, research and other agricultural  programs, but the deal opened a bitter, partisan rift over farm bill policy by leaving out assistance sought by cotton and dairy producers.  Negotiations over the cotton and dairy provisions appeared to have foundered in the final days and hours amid a disagreement over the scope of the assistance. Cotton growers were seeking to become eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program, while dairy producers wanted more help from their Margin Protection Program.
  • April 28, 2017 - European Food Safety Authority released ‘Annual Report of the EFSA Scientific Network for Risk Assessment of GMOs for 2016' – The EFSA Scientific Network for Risk Assessment of GMOs (the GMO Network) was established in accordance with EFSA’s strategy for cooperation and networking with Member States. The goals of the GMO Network are to improve dialogue among members, build mutual understanding of risk assessment principles, enhance knowledge and confidence in the scientific assessment carried out in the EU, and increase the transparency of the process among Member States and EFSA.
  • April 26, 2017 - Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America - A Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America has been issued by the President which establishes an "... Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity [which] shall identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life.
  • April 25, 2017 – USDA Economic Research Service release report entitled 'Productivity Growth and the Revival of Russian Agriculture' - Russia's agricultural total factor productivity in 1994-2013 reveals that output specialization has been a key feature of agricultural recovery in the transition to a market economy. Some districts specialized more in grains and oilseeds, others in animal products. The fastest productivity growth occurred in the South, which emerged as Russia's most important agricultural district.
  • April 24, 2017 - NOAA’s report on U.S. ocean and Great Lakes economy shows growth - The latest economic figures show inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) from the ocean economy grew 15.6 percent from 2007 to 2014, outpacing the overall U.S. economy, which grew at 5.8 percent.  The ocean economy includes businesses dependent on ocean and Great Lakes natural resources. This essential segment of the U.S. economy also employed more than 3 million people—more than crop production, telecommunication and building construction combined—with approximately two thirds of those employees in the tourism and recreation sector.
  • April 1, 2017 - Meet Hubert Hamer: NASS Administrator - Amstat News invited Hubert Hamer—administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service—to respond to the following questions so readers could learn more about him and the agency he leads.