BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATES
Stopgap Measure for FY15
Congress returned from recess this week. Since little work has been performed on appropriations, a stopgap measure or continuing resolution is needed. The House of Representatives released their version of the bill yesterday, with vote on the bill expected within the next week. Any continuing resolution will likely have an expiration date of December 11th.
Sequestration Guidance from OMB
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) annually issues a report on current appropriations as they relate to existing federal spending caps. This year's update, released on August 20, reports that most FY 2015 appropriations are under the mandated caps except for the Senate Defense appropriations bill. Full report.
NRC’s BANR Releases AFRI Review
The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Research Council has released the Review of the USDA Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) report which evaluates the value, relevance, quality, fairness, and flexibility of AFRI. This report also considers funding policies and mechanisms and identifies measures of the effectiveness and efficiency of AFRI's operation. The report concludes that: 1) AFRI plays a critical and unique role in the nation’s overall R&D portfolio, but it has not been adequately given the resources needed to meet contemporary and likely future challenges; 2) AFRI is unnecessarily complex, difficult to depict clearly, and characterized by overlapping components that do not clearly align with priorities identified in authorizing legislation, 3) AFRI does not have clearly articulated plans to guide its priority-setting, management processes, and interagency collaboration, 4) AFRI’s complex and diffuse management structure has made it difficult to efficiently and effectively manage the program. However, NIFA and its AFRI program are essential elements of USDA and will be critical for enhancing the knowledge base needed to successfully address important issues in agriculture, food, and natural resources. The content has been paraphrased from a released summary. To view the report please visit: http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=18652.
BLUE RIBBON EXPERT PANEL CORNER
The Blue Ribbon Expert Panel – Grand Challenges Project
At the AAEA Annual Meeting, the C-FARE Blue Ribbon Expert Panel Members discussed the development of a “Grand Challenges” project for the agricultural and applied economics sciences. The aim of the project would be to frame the role of the agricultural and applied economics profession in addressing the societal grand challenges that drive federal investment and public-private partnerships. The event, which marked an early starting point for the project, included a short presentation on grand challenges. Several special guests, including USDA Economic Research Service Administrator, Dr. Mary Bohman; AAEA Past-President, Dr. Julie Caswell; and USDA NIFA National Program Leader, Dr. Robbin Shoemaker discussed USDA priorities and the value of ‘communicating out’ the important role of the discipline in addressing challenges.
The project’s next steps will be to engage the Blue Ribbon Expert Panels further on the topic, as informed by high-level documents outlining societal challenges and R&D priority areas from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Office of Management and Budget (see above), and the USDA REE Action Plan.