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Government Relations

  • Extramural economic research fares well, while intramural economic research is flat-lined, and agricultural statistics takes a cut in FY 2016 Appropriations in Omnibus bill

See the graph here. C-FARE and the AAEA Government Relations Committee are working together to increase membership of a key coalition of supporters of agricultural statistics and analysis, also known as FASA. Building the coalition of supporters for extramural, intramural, agricultural statistics and extension will be critical in 2016 for Fiscal Year (FY) 17 funding. Please contact Caron Gala of C-FARE if you know of industry members or associations who would be interested in joining the group.

  • The National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research Board met on January 8

National C-FAR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based and customer-led coalition that brings food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation and natural resource stakeholders together with the food and agriculture research community. It serves as a forum and a unified voice in support of sustaining and increasing public investment at the national level in food and agricultural research, extension and education. Caron Gala, Executive Director of C-FARE, is the Research and Outreach Committee Chair. She aims to help increase awareness of agricultural research, education and extension broadly, and to highlight the importance of agricultural economics in those programs. Experts from USDA gave updates on USDA, FFAR, NIFA, and other programs. See the link here.

  • The American Farm Bureau Federation held its annual convention in Orlando, FL, January 8–13

The members voted to “move agricultural research to the forefront of American science." Participants also stated their support for increased investment in research, both in amount and style of funding; for example,via grants, government-assisted financing, public-private partnerships, etc.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is calling for a new commitment to research and education in food and agriculture from all sectors.

  • Child nutrition programs passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on January 20

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed “'Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016” on January 20. See the text here.

  • Farm income a top issue in DC and for the nation

Last year and into this year, major farm news outlets are closely following the drop in farm income estimated by USDA data and corroborated by the narratives coming out of the heartland. The following outlets covered the topic: Ag Week, Bloomberg, The Dallas Morning Times, and DTN The Progressive Farmer. AAEA and C-FARE will join to provide congressional staff with a briefing on the topic in early February.

  • Resolution passed to disapprove the waters of the US definition

The Obama Administration's new definition of waters of the United States was included in the omnibus. A congressional resolution to roll back the regulation was passed last week. The Administration has promised to veto the measure.

  • Avian influenza surfaces in Indiana

On January 17, the USDA confirmed the pathogenicity of eight of nine H7N8 avian influenza detections in Indiana commercial turkey operations. Last year, an outbreak of a different strain—H5N2—wiped out close to 50 million birds, sending egg prices soaring.

  • White House to unveil Fiscal 2017 Budget on February 9

The White House will release the president’s fiscal 2017 budget on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

The National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board (NAREEEAB) met from December 16–18, 2015. See full agenda and all ppts here.

At the meetings it was recommended by the Adequacy and Relevancy Committee that they could do their job most effectively if the USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area leadership presented information on specific parts of its portfolio on a rotating schedule over the coming years. During the December meeting, the focus was on Food Safety and Nutrition programs. Efforts from AAEA membership were well represented by the USDA Economic Research Service, but the report by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture noted less inclusion of social sciences. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service also highlighted new food safety survey efforts guided at least partially by AAEA members. The AAEA Government Relations Committee will receive a final report on the Relevancy and Adequacy of Food Safety and Nutrition programs this spring. The focus topics for 2016–17 will be Climate and Natural Resource Issues. 

The Secretary of Agriculture will soon announce a new Science Advisory Council, as the Undersecretary is now also titled the Chief Scientist. Dr. Dawn Thilmany was asked to represent the Social Sciences on the Science Advisory Council. Key topics for the Advisory Council include: 1) Research Reliability/Replicability; 2) Citizen Science; and 3) Framing the USDA portfolio on Genetic Innovations. NIFA reported on their new Knowledge Discovery Tools for data mining, mapping and network analysis. The tools will be used to visualize and evaluate the NIFA’s portfolio of investments.

NAREEEAB provides advice to the Secretary of Agriculture and land-grant colleges and universities on priorities and policies for food and agricultural research, education, extension and economics. In its ongoing role as advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture, NAREEEAB's main objective is to contribute to effective federal agricultural research, education and economics programs through broad stakeholder feedback and sound science. Dr. Dawn Thilmany represents the National Social Science Associations on NAREEEAB. She provided this report.


Summit on Antimicrobial Stewardship: Policy, Education and Economics

The national summit will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, January 20 and 21. It is a collaboration of Farm Foundation, NFP, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and USDA's Economic Research Service. The summit is the culmination of 13 workshops that have taken place nationwide to provide livestock producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers with information regarding new policies issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on use of antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. A report of the workshops will be discussed at the national summit.

USDA 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum Plenary Panel Announced

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the members of this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Plenary Panel on “Providing Leadership for Present and Future Generations in the Transformation of Agriculture.” The varied backgrounds of this year’s panelists—academia, business, farming and media—bring a range of expertise to this discussion on transforming the future of agriculture. The group includes Elizabeth Garrett, President of Cornell University; Ilene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion; Pamela Hess, Executive Director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture; and Pam Johnson, an Iowa farmer and former president of National Corn Growers Association. Thirty concurrent track sessions supporting this theme include the Agriculture Talent Pipeline, Bioproducts, Commodities, Land and Tenure Transition, New Markets, Organics, Risk Management, Scientific Advancement, Trade, and Urban Agriculture. Deputy Secretary Harden will also host a session on opportunities in agriculture for new and beginning farmers and host a Women’s Agriculture Networking event. The two-day meeting will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday and Friday, February 25 and 26, 2016. Register here.


Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS)

Interdisciplinary research efforts to transform scientific understanding of the food-water-energy nexus are well integrated. The overarching goal of INFEWS is to catalyze them, in order to improve system function and management, address system stress, increase resilience, and ensure sustainability. The NSF INFEWS initiative is designed specifically to attain the following goals: 1) Significantly advance our understanding of the food-energy-water system through quantitative and computational modeling, including support for relevant cyber-infrastructure; 2) Develop real-time, cyber-enabled interfaces that improve understanding of the behavior of FEW systems and increase ability to support decisions; 3) Enable research that will lead to innovative system and technological solutions to critical FEW problems; and 4) Grow the scientific workforce capable of studying and managing the FEW system, through education and other professional development opportunities. Deadline: March 22.

The Science of Science & Innovation Policy (SciSIP)

SciSIP supports research designed to advance the scientific basis of science and innovation policy. The program funds research to develop models, analytical tools, data and metrics that can be applied to the process of making science policy decisions that relate to the use and allocation of scarce scientific resources. For example, research proposals may develop behavioral and analytical conceptualizations, frameworks or models that have broad application in science and innovation policy challenges. Proposals may also develop methodologies to analyze science, technology and innovation data, and to convey that information to a variety of audiences in a useful manner. Proposals are encouraged that create and improve science, engineering and innovation data, including the design of new metrics and indicators, particularly proposals that demonstrate the viability of collecting and analyzing data on knowledge generation and organizational innovation. Deadline: February 9 and September 9.

Organic Agriculture Grants

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking research grant funding applications from colleges and universities for its Organic Transitions Program (ORG). The program supports the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those adopting organic practices. In FY 2016, ORG will continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation, pollinator health, and climate change mitigation. This includes greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as the development of educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices, and development of cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. NIFA anticipates having approximately $3.8 million available in grant funds for the program in FY2016. Applications due by: April 15, 2016

White House SBS Team seeks Fellows 

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), which uses insights from the social and behavioral sciences to improve federal programs, is accepting applications for new members to serve on the team as Fellows or Associate Fellows. The one-year fellowship begins in October 2016 and is open to PhD or Masters level scientists with expertise in one or more field in the social and behavioral sciences. Deadline: January 24, 2016.

USDA NIFA Fellowships Grant Program for Undergraduate, Predoctoral, and Postdoctoral Students in the Agricultural Sciences

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications under its AFRI Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative (AFRI ELI). This initiative is intended to prepare the next generation of scientists through fellowships for doctoral candidates and post-doctoral scholars; promote research and extension experiential learning for undergraduates such that upon graduation they may enter the agriculture workforce with exceptional skills; and provide immersive learning experiences for secondary school educators, enabling them to identify and replicate best practices to enhance student outcomes. NIFA anticipates having approximately $18.9 million available in grant funds for the program in FY2016.

Applications Due by: 

  • February 11, 2016 for Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • March 18, 2016 for Professional Development Opportunities for Secondary School Teachers 
  • March 24, 2016 for Research and Extension Experiential Learning for Undergraduate