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Government Relations

FY 2016 Omnibus

Written: December, 18 2015

By the time that this article is published, Congress will likely have passed the $1.15 trillion fiscal 2016 omnibus spending package (HR 2029). Votes are being placed in the House on the package as I type. In the Senate, the bill will be combined with a recent House-passed measure that would permanently extend many tax breaks. The omnibus represents an effort to avoid a costly government shutdown on December 22. Fortunately for agricultural and applied economics research, several cuts in funding seem to be temporarily avoided. That said, in many cases, lack of program growth can also be considered a decrease when inflation rates are considered. Through its membership in several coalitions, C-FARE monitors the federal budgets. In the January issue of the Exchange, C-FARE will summarize the final impacts of the bill.

Other policy and event news

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be published in January, 2016, reports Politico Pro's Helena Bottemiller Evich. The omnibus asks for a probe into the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
  • GMO labeling will be discussed in January, reports Chuck Abbot in the December 17 version of the Food & Environment Reporting Network.
  • The childhood nutrition bill will also be discussed in January. A business meeting has been scheduled to discuss the topic in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
  • On December 9th, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing to discuss USDA’s use of the Census of Agriculture authority to acquire farmer’s personal financial information. See the video of the hearing here.
  • AAEA President Jill McCluskey attended “Raising the Profile of Agriculture” on December 1, 2015, in Washington, D.C.. The meeting was hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.

Public Comment

C-FARE develops public comment on behalf of the profession to better represent the perspective and interests of the profession in the public sector.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public comment on the development of a policy to increase access to the results of federally funded agricultural research. "Our goal is to help stakeholders understand and participate in planning for an increase in public access to scholarly publications and scientific data funded by USDA,” said Catherine Woteki, PhD. “We see this increased access as an opportunity to raise the profile of the field of agricultural research, highlighting its many contributions to scientific innovation and its value to society. Stakeholder insights are vital to planning this new era of open access so we can best meet the needs of society and of scientists.” A USDA REE Fact Sheet on Public Access to USDA Funded Research Results is posted here. C-FARE seeks your comments and input via email on this effort. Please send any related information to Comments sent prior to December 31, 2015, will be considered.

C-FARE Projects

C-FARE invites AAEA members to express interest in participating in any of the following projects, which will be ongoing throughout 2016. Please contact Caron Gala at if you have an interest in being involved in these efforts.

“Big Ag.” Data Project

A “Big Ag. Data Steering Committee” is being formed to identify a disciplinary working definition of “big agriculture data” opportunities and limitations on its use, potential changes in data sources and related perceived or real risks, and a set of research goals and priorities for publicly funded or privately funded research on big data and its implications for production, marketing, industry structure, and competition. The research goals and priorities will provide a public communication framework and guidance to federal research and statistical agencies regarding the implications of big data research and analysis.

Funding Opportunities

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (USDA-NIFA-ICGP-005517)

C-FARE, AAEA, and ERS Partner to Identify Agriculture and Applied Economics Priorities

What are the important societal problems needing economic analysis? How can agricultural and applied economists contribute to a particular area of research? These are questions raised by the funders of research, government entities, constituents, and students.

To answer these questions, the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE), Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and the Economic Research Service (ERS) are partnering to undertake this project, “Priorities for Agricultural and Applied Economics.” The project will engage agricultural and applied economists in identifying the research and education priorities for the next decade.  These are the priorities for solving the most challenging questions facing the agriculture, food and natural resource sectors and society in general.

The results of this project will inform policy makers in Congress and federal agencies about future directions, key resource needs, and research, education, and extension priorities for agriculture and applied economics. The results will also articulate the unique role of agricultural and applied economists in working with other disciplines to find solutions.

C-FARE will facilitate this consensus-building project seeking input across a broad spectrum of the profession and its stakeholders. The timeline is short. We expect to have the results available for your consideration at the AAEA Annual Meeting in Boston. In January, we will send you a survey for your thoughtful consideration and input. Your input to this important process is critical as we look into the future and identify those issues that will most important for our profession to address.

Project Director, Dr. Gene Nelson, is also seeking volunteers and nominees to represent the profession in an April Workshop to finalize and describe the priorities. For more about this project and to volunteer to help, contact Caron Gala at, who in addition to serving as C-FARE Executive Director will be managing this project. 

C-FARE (the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics) is a nonprofit organization that enhances the effectiveness of the food, agricultural, resource, rural, and related economic sectors through a stronger national presence of the agricultural and applied economics profession in the processes of identifying key economic issues, setting priorities, and generating support for research, education, and outreach programs.