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Government Relations Update

The government relations newsletter is assembled and written by the business office
of the
Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Composes a Letter Outlining Five Principles for Economic Programs

Given discussions in Washington related to the farm bill, reorganization of the USDA, and other endeavors by various factions, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) was compelled to compose a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and other Congressional leaders. The AAEA leaders stated that it is their perspective that economic programs within the USDA should be guided by the following five principles:

  1. Provide accurate, timely, and precise information on the state of the food and agricultural economy to improve the decision making of farmers, consumers, agribusinesses, and policy makers.
  2. Uphold and respect statistical directives and privacy laws; maintain the independence of principal statistical agencies from policy-advising units within government.
  3. Conduct applied and fundamental research to better understand the drivers of the health of the U.S. population, the robust nature of the U.S. food and fiber system, and the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
  4. Ensure that policy makers have timely and thorough analysis to ensure evidence-based policy that results in high quality, up-to-date evaluation of policies and programs.
  5. Increase the quality and quantity of economic and social science research conducted by the USDA.

The letter also celebrated the recent publication of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Priorities and Solutions Project. You may view the letter here. The letter was crafted by the AAEA Presidents for the AAEA Government Relations Program, which works in close coordination with the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics.

National Academies Study on Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are pleased to announce Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research, a new study to identify ambitious scientific opportunities in food and agriculture made possible by incorporating knowledge and tools from across the science and engineering spectrum. The year-long project will involve the scientific community in describing research directions with high potential to open new frontiers for food and agriculture science. Major funding for the study has been provided by the SoAR Foundation and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. View additional support here.

*The study needs your input!*
*Go to the Community Input page or to @ideabuzzapp to share your ideas.*
*Agricultural and applied economics ideas are needed!*

First Open Session of the Science Breakthroughs Study Committee held in June

Dr. Helen Jensen of Iowa State University has joined the study committee. AAEA was invited to provide comment related to the Priorities and Solutions Project efforts. Caron Gala, Executive Director of The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE), and Dr. Mary Bohman, Administrator for the USDA Economic Research Service, provided those comments on behalf of Jill McCluskey. You may view the entire event here. More information can be viewed on Twitter via #ScienceBreakthroughs and @NASEM_Ag.

#SaveTheDate for #ScienceBreakthroughs Town Hall

August 8th at the National Academy of Sciences Auditorium

The Town Hall will be held at the National Academy of Science Building in Washington, DC, on August 8, 2017, to discuss ideas and white pages submitted to the IdeaBuzz discussion platform. The meeting will be open to the public and participants will explore the science, engineering, and technology that will drive future innovation in food and agriculture research. Public submissions to IdeaBuzz will also be spotlighted at the Town Hall. AAEA Past President Jayson Lusk will be speaking at the event. Register here!

Report: The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities

In response to a request from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appointed an expert committee to help determine whether the federal government should fund research in the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences at NSF. In its report, the committee concludes that the social, behavioral, and economic sciences advance the missions of NSF and other federal agencies and serve many of the most important needs of society. SBE research can also be applied to business and industry and has enhanced the U.S. economy.

The report also offers recommendations to better enable SBE research to meet the nation’s priorities—for example, it urges NSF to undertake a strategic planning process to articulate the most important scientific questions in SBE disciplines and to prepare the next generation of scientists to be more data intensive, interdisciplinary, and team-oriented. The plan should specify the resources and methods required to advance the progress of SBE fields, reflecting broad input from a wide array of stakeholders and putting forth priorities for NSF. This would require active participation by professional societies in identifying research challenges for their disciplines. Expect to see more about these efforts in future government relations updates.

United States Budget and Appropriations

Agricultural Appropriations for FY 2018

On July 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2018 Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill with a vote of 31–0. A press release is published here. The bill provided funding for the Undersecretary for Rural Development, a Senate-confirmed position that the President’s budget has suggested eliminating in order to allow for the creation of an Undersecretary for Trade. The funding lines for major programs supporting agricultural economics are listed below.

  2014 Actual 2015 Enacted 2016 Enacted 2017 Enacted 2018 Budget Req. FY 2018 House FY 2018 Senate
Office of the Chief Economist $16.8 M $17.4 $17.8 M $18.9 M $17.2 M $16.8 M $16.9 M
Economic Research Service $78.1 M $85.4 M $85.4 M $86.8 M $76.7 M $76.8 M $86.8 M
National Agricultural Statistics Service $161.2 M $172.4 M $171.2 M $168.4 M $185.7 M $183.8 M $191.7 M
National Institute of Food and Agriculture NA NA $849.5 M $819.7 M $769.6 M $830.4 M $854.9 M
AFRI $316 M $325 M $350 M $375 M $349 M $375 M $375 M

The FY 2018 Budget Request for the EPA, NSF, and Statistical Agencies

Please find a summary of the FY 18 budget request here.

Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis

Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA) stakeholders depend on the reliable production of timely, accurate, and objective food, agricultural, rural economic, and resource statistics and market information. FASA supports the maintenance and growth of agriculture, food, and resource statistics and analysis. FASA is developing a letter to support the funding for the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service in S. 1603 in conference proceedings. If you are interested in adding your signature to the letter, please contact by Monday, July 31.

House Agriculture Research Caucus

On June 5, Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) and Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) joined together to establish the bipartisan Congressional Agriculture Research Caucus, stating: “Agriculture is the economic engine for our nation’s rural communities and directly impacts our urban populations. Scientific discovery and its on-farm applications provide producers with the knowledge and means to increase productivity, address agriculture adversity, and provide consumers with high-quality, safe food that is nutritious and appetizing. Agriculture research is the frontline defense against critical challenges facing the industry, from production efficiency and labor shortages to environmental stewardships and protection against biological threats.” See news coverage here. If you’d like to ask your House member to join the Caucus, please go to this page. The Caucus’ portfolio of issues includes agricultural and applied economics research, education, and extension


Impact of Cutbacks in Government

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 5:45 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. in conference room 483, Congressional Budget Office

Large cutbacks in the federal workforce are in President Trump’s budget for FY 2017–18, including substantial reductions in the workforces of the EPA, NOAA, and the State Department, together with reductions in contracts. Health care made available by the federal government is likely to be greatly impacted, which can result in extensive cutbacks in the medical field. This may be most keenly felt in the Washington area, but will also extend to other areas in the United States.

Webinar Recording: Valuation of Ecosystem Services from Farms and Forests

Thursday, June 29

In this webinar, Lisa Wainger of the University of Maryland and David Ervin of Portland State University discussed findings of a recent Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics report, The Valuation of Ecosystem Services from Farms and Forests, which resulted from an interdisciplinary project that they co-chaired. Using a conceptual value framework and the best available science, the project teams—comprised of experts on water quality, carbon sequestration in forests, and pollinator habitat—developed reliable and consistent approaches for assessing the monetary and non-monetary benefits of national conservation programs. View the recorded webinar here.

Agricultural and Applied Economics 2017 Summer Intern Breakfast Briefings

The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) invited students with an interest in agricultural and applied economics who were interning in Washington, DC this summer to participate in the 2017 Agricultural and Applied Economics Breakfast Briefings. The briefing series focused on how to navigate careers working for Congress, U.S. agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations. Participants also gained insight regarding what it takes to succeed in Washington, DC.

  • Monday, June 5 - Career Insights from USDA Economists (complete)
  • Friday, June 9 - The Economic Experience on the Hill (complete)
  • Friday, June 23 - Opportunities in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics (complete)
  • Thursday, July 20 - Field Highlights from Experts in Industry (complete)

Thank you to all the students who participated! We had over 150 interns register for the events, and many events included more than fifty students.

Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association Congressional Visits Day

In 2017, the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) has been organizing a series of Agricultural and Applied Economics Congressional Visits Days. One of the events was sponsored in coordination with the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The Agricultural and Applied Economics Congressional Visits Day (CVD) events bring agricultural and applied economics professionals and executives to Washington, DC, to meet with their congressional delegations to raise awareness about the importance of agricultural and applied economics analysis, research, and related statistical resources. The purpose of these meetings is to simply explain to the member or their staff what agricultural and applied economics is and what research areas it includes. This is an experimental program for NAREA, inspired by successful congressional visits days that have been organized by other societies for their members. We had six agricultural and applied economists meet with their delegations. Please see examples of congressional visits days links for NAAEA here in 2015 and ASA-CSSA-SSSA here.

Report Release: New Dynamic in Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy for Rural America

Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Office of the Chief Economist, USDA, July 2017

Inspired by a series put together in coordination with the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, these authors discuss the multi-level regulatory context in which fossil and renewable energy occur. They also review how the use of fossil fuels and renewable energy impact local communities, the environment, and infrastructure, as well as government income and spending. See the event here. Find the full report here.

Request for Applications

Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program (NLGCA)

Synopsis: NLGCA institutions may use the funds: (a) to successfully compete for funds from federal grants and other sources to carry out educational, research, and outreach activities that address priority concerns of national, regional, state, or local interest; (b) to disseminate information relating to priority concerns to interested members of the agriculture, renewable resources, and other relevant communities, the public, and any other interested entity; (c) to encourage members of the agriculture, renewable resources, and other relevant communities to participate in priority education, research, and outreach activities by providing matching funding to leverage grant funds; and (d) through: (1) the purchase or other acquisition of equipment and other infrastructure (not including alteration, repair, renovation, or construction of buildings); (2) the professional growth and development of the faculty of the NLGCA institution; and (3) the development of graduate assistantships. Deadline: Friday, September 15, 2017; Funding: $750,000; Contact: Edwin Lewis (

AFRI Foundational: Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities

Synopsis: This AFRI Foundational Program Area of Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) supports rigorous social science projects, including behavioral and experimental economics research and analysis that informs decision making and policy design aimed at enhancing the sustainability of agricultural production systems, both conventional and organic, and related activities in rural areas, and protecting the environment, improving quality of life, and alleviating poverty. Topics include, but are not limited to, the interactions between agriculture, environment, and communities in rural areas; demographic changes and impacts; consumer preferences or behavior; decision-making under conditions of uncertainty; crop insurance; availability of credit and financing; market structure and performance; and policy and design impact. Deadline: Thursday, August 17, 2017; Funding: $7,500,000; Contact: Robbin Shoemaker (

News & Press Releases

  • July 24, 2017A “better deal” - Congressional Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-N.Y., have released a platform that includes promises to take a tough stance on agribusiness and beer mergers. See the video here. See the document that was released to the press here.
  • July 24, 2017Farm groups support Clovis nomination - More than 20 farm groups have endorsed Sam Clovis, a former Iowa college professor who was an aide to Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, for the position of Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics. (Hagstrom Report)
  • July 20, 2017 - Budget writers OK farm bill fixes for dairy, cotton - Senate appropriators have agreed to provide new farm bill funding to cotton and dairy producers, potentially addressing a major challenge facing lawmakers as they consider writing a new farm bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a fiscal 2018 funding bill for the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration that would make cottonseed eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program and overhaul the dairy industry’s Margin Protection Program to make it significantly more attractive to producers.
  • July 19, 2017President Trump announces nomination of Clovis, McKinney, sends Censky to Senate - President Donald Trump has announced his intention to nominate Ted McKinney as Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Samuel H. Clovis Jr. as Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics. The White House also said that Trump’s previously announced nomination of Steve Censky to be Agriculture Deputy Secretary has been sent to the Senate. Censky is CEO of the American Soybean Association. All three positions require Senate confirmation. Censky and McKinney are likely to be confirmed easily, but the Clovis nomination could face challenges.
  • July 19, 2017 - House Judiciary chair aims for new agricultural guestworker program - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) delivered the following remarks during the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee’s hearing on “Agricultural Guestworkers: Meeting the Growing Needs of American Agriculture.” He states, “…We should enable the large population of illegal farm workers to participate legally in American agriculture. Those eligible will provide a stable, legal agricultural workforce that employers can call upon when sufficient American labor cannot be found. In addition, a successful guestworker program will provide a legal, workable avenue for guestworkers who are trying to provide a better life for their families…”
  • July 19, 2017 - USDA announces more than $8 million to address shifting environmental conditions and impact on agriculture - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced nine grants, totaling more than $8 million, that will be used to study and develop new approaches for the agriculture sector to adapt to and mitigate the effects of changing environmental conditions. The funding has been made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. “We have to develop robust plants, animals, and management systems that can flourish under challenging environmental conditions,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.
  • July 19, 2017 - Agricultural export promotion programs create positive economic impacts - Favorable agro-climatic conditions, infrastructure, economic institutions, and well-managed farms and firms place the United States firmly among the world’s largest exporters of food and agricultural products. Access to world markets, which enables producers to achieve economies of scale in production and distribution that enhance the competitive advantage of U.S. products, further enhances efficiency. Even given these advantages, there can be a strong need to promote exports since agricultural and food products are becoming increasingly differentiated.
  • July 17, 2017 - Heritage Action to key vote Graves SNAP bill - Heritage Action for America announced today that it will key vote and include in its legislative scorecard the cosponsorship of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996), introduced by Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. The bill would tighten up work requirements for all “able-bodied adults without dependents” (ABAWDS) who receive food stamps. “If passed and signed into law, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for millions dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade,” Heritage said in a news release.
  • July 7, 2017 - Trump, Peña Nieto discuss Mexican guestworker proposal - Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and U.S. President Donald Trump, at their first one-on-one meeting since Mr. Trump took office, agreed Friday to explore new ways of allowing Mexican workers to temporarily enter the U.S. to help the agriculture industry.
  • July 6, 2017 - States sue over EPA's decision to keep pesticide on market - Several states are seeking to join a legal challenge to a Trump administration decision to keep a widely used pesticide on the market despite studies showing that it can harm children's brains. Led by New York, the coalition filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in a legal fight over the continued spraying of chlorpyrifos on food. Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia are also seeking to join the suit, which is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
  • July 6, 2017 - Mexico is no longer no. 1 U.S. corn-buyer after trade tensions - Mexico is no longer the biggest buyer of corn from the U.S., a sign that trade tensions are pushing American grain toward other markets while its southern neighbor lines up new suppliers. Sales to Mexico through May were $1.04 billion, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a monthly update. That contrasts with the 32 percent increase for the overall value of U.S. corn exports in the period, during which the average dollar value of the commodity was little changed. Japan boosted its purchases 53 percent, to $1.19 billion, to become the largest importer of American corn.
  • July 5, 2017 - Challenging Trump, E.U. and Japan push joint trade deal - The European Union and Japan have signaled that they plan to announce a broad agreement on trade Thursday, a pointed challenge to President Trump, who is scheduled to attend a meeting of world leaders in Germany the next day. The timing of the announcement — on the eve of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany — was a clear reaction to the United States’ protectionist stance the last time the G-20 met. During a March meeting of cabinet-level officials in Baden-Baden, Germany, Steven Mnuchin, the American Treasury secretary, refused to endorse a statement in favor of free trade.
  • June 30, 2017 - President Trump drops plans for order tightening food aid shipping rules – In response to protests from members of Congress, President Donald Trump's administration dropped plans for an executive order that would have required all U.S. food aid to be transported on American ships, congressional and aid sources said on Friday. Reuters reported Thursday that Trump was considering issuing an order that would have increased to 100 percent the current requirement that 50 percent of such aid be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stopped short of confirming information about the order but said he had discussed the issue with Trump and that he understands that the shift would have increased the cost of food aid and caused more people to starve.
  • June 29, 2017 - Amazon’s new grocery venture gives Jeff Bezos his greatest challenge—creating enough organic food - The time is ripe for Jeff Bezos to work his business acumen on an area of the U.S. food system that’s been slowly growing for years: organic food. And with his purchase of Whole Foods Market earlier this month, he’ll have even more reason to try and convince U.S. farmers to join him. The meteoric growth of Whole Foods over the last several decades has been a testament to the growing popularity of natural and organic foods in America. The Organic Trade Association estimates that those foods now account for five percent of total food sales, or $47 billion. That’s still a tiny sliver of food sales.
  • June 26, 2017 - What prompted land loss for black farmers? An obscure property law – African-American farmers lost millions of acres of land across the South as a result of an obscure legal provision that is only now being corrected in state legislatures around the country.
  • June 25, 2017 - Rural hospitals could close if healthcare reform cuts Medicaid - Some 700 rural hospitals, which serve a largely older, sicker, and poorer population than most U.S. hospitals, are at risk of closing. Now, with the cuts to Medicaid being considered in Washington as part of the healthcare debate, their prospects could be even darker, says a story produced by NPR, KBIA, and Kaiser Health News.
  • June 21, 2017 - U.S. commodity markets respond to changes in China's ag policies - International trade deficits have recently been reputed as bad for the economy; however, agriculture has posted a trade surplus since 1959. For U.S. agriculture, trade represents 20 percent of farmers’ income on average, and even more for specific commodities—70 percent for cotton and tree nuts; 50 percent for wheat, rice, and soybeans: and almost 20 percent for meat and dairy products. Thus, tossing trade would be comparable to U.S. farmers destroying 20 percent of their yields.
C-FARE Events at
2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago
Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile

Monday, July 31, 2017

AAEA Business Meeting – Former C-FARE Board Recognition
8:00 am – 8:30 am
7th Floor, Salon II & II

Implications of “Big Ag. Data” for the Agricultural
and Applied Economics Profession

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
6th Floor, Indiana

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

C-FARE Update – Special Focus: Evidence Based Policy
11:30 AM - 12:45 PM
5th Floor, Chicago Ballroom A