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Government Relations

Budget and Appropriations

FY16 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations and Budget

In our last report, we indicated the report language in the NSF House appropriations bill directs the NSF to ensure that the math, biophysical, computer, and engineering sciences receive no less than 70 percent of all the funding in research and related activities. As a result, compared with FY15 levels, the implications of the House report language, should it be retained all the way through the appropriations process, is that SBE Directorate would shoulder a cut, while the remainder of the NSF research and related activities would either be flat funded or would experience an increase. The actual cut amount is unknown, but sources state it would be between 10% and 15%. Fortunately, the Senate version, approved on June 10 out of committee, does not contain this language.

USDA FY16 Budget and Appropriations

The House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee moved its bill to the committee level last week on June 18. The bill includes funding of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission at $250M, while bringing funding for many agencies within the USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area back to funding levels equal to those of fiscal year (FY) 2014. The relative impact per agency varies greatly. An added component of this impact is the real cost of the transfer of lease payments in FY 2015 from the General Services Administration (GSA) to USDA agencies. This makes the USDA-Economic Research Service (ERS), which pays rent equal to 7.7 percent of its total FY 2015 appropriation, and the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which pays rent equal to 5.6 percent of its FY 2015 appropriation, especially vulnerable to any cuts below the FY 2015 appropriations levels. Other agencies, such as the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, only have about 0.8 percent of their total appropriation tied up in rent.

The Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service

As a result of the impact of the GSA rent transfer, the cuts to USDA-ERS of 8.6%, back to FY 2014 levels, suggested in the House appropriations bill, will have a direct impact on USDA-ERS programs. As many of you know, the USDA-ERS generates the farm financial statistics, consumer prices and expenditures for food, measures of food consumption behavior, estimates of food security and the distribution of hunger in the United States. USDA-ERS also conducts, using federal data, science-based research and analysis on the consequences of changes in farm management, food taxation, nutrition assistance, food safety, agri-environmental quality, rural development, and other circumstances, programs, or alternative policies. During the 2012–2013 sequestration and rescission process, USDA-ERS reduced its emerging issue-related cooperative research and competitive funding programs. We understand that, in FY 2016, it is likely that the agency will only be able to move forward by reducing core programs critical to the agricultural economy via essential related research and industry analysis.

Similarly, the NASS $11.2M cut to core programs will most likely impact the data products within the agricultural estimates portion of its agency budget. The markets for tradable agricultural commodities hinge on NASS statistical reports. Farmers, ranchers, farm and commodity groups, agricultural businesses, researchers, and international traders rely on the accurate, objective, reliable, timely, and accessible statistics in reports released by NASS over the course of every year. The agency also is responsive to the data needs associated with critical issues that emerge in the agricultural sector, such as the recent avian flu outbreak. In 2011, NASS was forced to suspend, eliminate, or reduce the frequency of reporting on a variety of “minor” commodities. However, the 6.5 percent decrease in non-census funding proposed by this bill would require deeper cuts to agricultural estimates.

The leadership in the legislative and executive branches has stated that the nation could achieve rare bipartisan policymaking success in agricultural market and trade development in 2015. However, as the 114th Congress continues to move forward, federal investments would best reflect this intention if decisions acknowledge that relatively small FY 2016 budgetary investments in ERS ($7.3M) and NASS ($11.2M) will effectively maximize the integrity of the international agricultural marketplace. These investments seem small, but have a great impact on thousands to millions of farm and agri-business operations throughout the supply chain. They also directly impact the opportunity to advance the applied agricultural economic research and analysis that AAEA members undertake.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA would also endure a cut, mostly shouldered via its extension programs. The flagship competitive grants program, AFRI, received a $10M increase in the draft bill.

The language for the bill is located here.

FY16 Ag. Appropriations Funding Table

(Thousands of Dollars)

2014 Actual

2015 Enacted

2016 Request

House Ag. Appropriations Subcommittee

Office of the Chief Economist










Economic Research Service





National Agricultural Statistics Service





National Institute of Food and Agriculture





Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA)

With the support of the AAEA Government Relations Committee, the Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics (C-FARE) has partnered with the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) to co-chair a new agricultural statistics and research group called the “Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis.” The goal of the group is to support continued maintenance and growth of the resources needed to support knowledge and information from agricultural, food, and resource statistics and analysis. FASA serves as a forum for stakeholders who depend on the reliable production of timely, accurate, objective food, agricultural, rural economy and resource statistics and market information. C-FARE and COPAFS invite interested individuals to connect with the group via LinkedIn. Organizations, companies, and institutions interested in joining the group should contact agricultural.statistics
. Please enter the subject “New Member Information.” If you know of organizations that you think might be interested, please send along the name of each organization with a contact name so that we can be in touch.

FASA Inaugural Event

A Briefing on the Statistics and Data that Underpin the Success of US Agriculture will take place on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 1310 Longworth House Office Building from 12:00-1:00 PM ET* and at 328A Russell Senate Office Building from 3:00-4:00 PM ET. Summary: The USDA produces a vast amount of data and information that directly informs decisions by food and agricultural market participants, agricultural input and food businesses, banks and other credit institutions, and those who make food, farm, economic development, and trade policy. American agriculture, rural America, food, and resource-based industries depend on the production of accurate, reliable, timely, and objective food, agricultural, rural economic, and resource statistics and market information. *Sandwiches will be served.

Other Events in DC

AAAS 2015 Riley Lecture: A University President’s Perspective on the Economic Importance of Pursuing a Unifying Message to Make Agriculture a National Priority

On behalf of the agricultural and applied economics profession, the Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics has participated in the Riley Memorial Foundation’s events aiming toward “Pursuing a Unifying Message.” These efforts center on building a coalition of stakeholders from industry, universities (public and private), and the broad research community engaged in agricultural, food, and resource science. At the last meeting of university participants, C-FARE proposed the effort focus on developing a greater emphasis on the agricultural research “solution supply chain.” This terminology was meant to encourage the celebration of research and analysis that occurs at many different places within the agribusiness and resource sectors that involve social, behavioral, biophysical, economic, and biochemical sciences. As a result, the Riley Board decided to advance this idea in its report, connecting it to an innovation deficit resulting from a lack of agricultural research investments.

C-FARE Events and Resources

The Economics of Food Waste in the Contemporary Marketplace—Video Links

Food waste occurs when edible food is thrown out at the retail, restaurant, or household level. Supermarkets and other food retailers discard edible foods that are discolored or oddly shaped, whose properties are unappealing to the consumer. The quantity of edible food lost in the US is not insignificant; 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels went uneaten in 2010. The value of this food loss is estimated to be about $161.6 billion, with about 1,249 calories lost per US citizen per day in 2010. Experts will describe the work being done to estimate the amount of food waste in the United States and evaluate the costs, trade-offs, infrastructure, and networks needed to understand and ameliorate food waste.

Webinar Speakers

Climate Change, Choices, Agriculture, and the Adaptation Imperative—Video Link

The connection between climate change and agriculture is multifaceted. A major assertion in the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the 2014 National Climate Assessment by the US Global Change Research Program reports is that climate change is already affecting agricultural productivity and adaptation is occurring in response. Evidence suggests these effects are spatially heterogeneous and are likely to intensify in the next century. In a recent theme presented by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association's Choices Magazine addresses some of the controversies, imperatives, and unmet expectations that have arisen in the last decade related to agricultural and climate change, in addition to the challenges that lie ahead.

Webinar Speaker

The Economics of Pollinator Services, Industry, and Health—Video Links

In mid-May, the White House released the inter-agency National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators and its accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan. Additionally, the House Agriculture Committee hosted a hearing to discuss the government response to pollinator health. Each event highlighted the importance of understanding the economics of pollinator health in the agricultural industry. Intramural and extramural agricultural economic research programs are responding to information needs by building the wealth of knowledge needed to deconstruct the challenges to pollinator health across the nation. In this webinar, you will hear from expert economists about the supply and demand of pollinator services, the land uses and conservation approaches that can support pollinator habitat, and other aspects of the agricultural economics of pollination.

Webinar Moderator

Webinar Speakers

For updates on committee hearings and other events in D.C., please follow C-FARE on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Report Prepared by Caron Gala, Executive Director of C-FARE