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Science Policy Report

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29 February 2012

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Gates and Kagame attend IFAD annual meeting
~ USAID Announces New University Engagement Partnership Program
~ IFPRI releases Reshaping Agriculture for Nutrition and Health
~ Call for nominations for 2012 AIARD Awards
~ Penn State to host Fulbright global food security seminar

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ FY12-FY13 Region 03Wetland Program
~ Virginia Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Idaho Conservation Innovative Grants
~ Arkansas Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Region 1 Wetland Program Development
~ GeoPRISMS Program
~ Region 10 Wetland Program
~ NOAA Regional Ocean Partnership
~ Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad
~ Massachusetts Conservation Innovation Grants
~ ROSES 2012: Fellowships for Early Career Researchers
~ ROSES 2012: Making Earth System data records for Use in Research Environments
~ Agricultural Extension Capacity Building Activity
~ Agriculture Commercialization and Innovation Activity
~ Louisiana Conservation Innovative Grants

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ Conservation groups seek strong support from Congress
~ Protecting Highly Erodible Croplands in the U.S.
~ New resource on terrestrial impacts of shale-gas exploration

Congressional/Administration News

~ Government Accountability Office report finds wasteful government spending
~ Science funding may be vulnerable yet again
~ House passes bill that would rescind higher education regulations
~ Farm bill deliberations by Senate next month?
~ House hammers NSF Director over agency funding

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Gates and Kagame attend IFAD annual meeting

This week at the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) Annual Governing Council at Rome's IFAD headquarters, Bill Gates announced nearly $200 million in grants from his foundation. He called on the trio of U.N. food agencies to improve coordination among themselves and to insist that the countries receiving food aid, agriculture technology, know-how and other assistance show what they have accomplished with periodic reports he likened to "report cards" or "score cards." Among the projects receiving funding from Gates is one to monitor the effects of agricultural productivity on a region's population and environment. Other grants will build on existing projects, including the release of 34 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize and delivering vaccines to tens of millions of livestock. Gates has embraced high-tech — and to some critics controversial — solutions for boosting agriculture, including supporting genetic modification in plant breeding as a way to fight starvation and malnutrition. In separate remarks to reporters, he suggested critics should ask farmers in poor countries who have adopted such techniques in plant breeding, "do you mind that it was created in a laboratory?"  Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, said his country is striving to rebuild its economy with coffee and tea production, which are significant sources of foreign exchange. Nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. But in the past five years progress has been made, Kagame said, noting that the country’s gross domestic product has grown at an average of 8 per cent. Kagame urged the international community to “be bold and try what has not been done before. We must learn from what has worked and adapt these models to suit smallholder farmers. The reality in most developing countries is that smallholder agriculture remains the source of livelihood and food supply. Every farmer counts.” Read blog piece about event


(TOP) ~ USAID Announces New University Engagement Partnership Program

On 8 Feb, at a White House innovation event, and echoing President Barack Obama's commitment and vision for a greater focus on development through innovation, science and technology, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the final Higher Education Solutions Network Request for Applications (RFA) to build new opportunities through partnerships with universities and colleges. This final RFA was a result of internal and external consultations, including two pre-solicitation workshops that were held in January. "With the official launch of the RFA, we are pioneering a new relationship between USAID and universities that will help harness the creativity and experimentation that thrives on college campuses to help solve development challenges," said Shah. "Through these new relationships, we will reach students who not only want to learn about global development, but are designing innovative solutions." The RFA is a five-year program that will focus the next generation of problem solvers on development's most vexing challenges, and harness the energy and idealism that exists in universities across America and the developing world. These partnerships with universities will support multidisciplinary, evidence-based approaches to development, encourage innovation and solutions analysis, and leverage US taxpayer dollars to improve the efficacy of our development interventions. Awards are available at two levels: either Single Institution Center or as a Consortium Center, which would consist of three to four academic centers and can include developing country partners. Read full RFA here


(TOP) ~ IFPRI releases Reshaping Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

On the one-year anniversary of IFPRI’s 2020 conference on “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health,” the organization announced the publication of Reshaping Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. This edited book compiles the background papers and briefs originally commissioned by IFPRI for the conference and subsequently peer-reviewed and revised. The chapters in this volume look at the links among agriculture, nutrition, and health and their potential to convey more benefits to poor and hungry people.  They examine how much more agriculture could do to improve human well-being if it included specific policies, actions and interventions to achieve health and nutrition goals; what kinds of changes would maximize agriculture’s contribution to human health and nutrition; and how could human health and nutrition contribute to a productive and sustainable agricultural system. Download full book or individual chapters


(TOP) ~ Call for nominations for 2012 AIARD Awards

Members of the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD), including the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies, are asked to nominate candidates for the AIARD awards for these categories: a) Distinguished Service, b) Special Service, and c) Young Professional. Nominations are made by submitting electronically a letter of nomination, 3-5 support letters from objective individuals, and a one-page biographical/professional statement that includes complete information for contacting the nominee. Nomination packages should be submitted to ayeni@aesop.rutgers.edu by MONDAY April 30th, 2012.  The Criteria for selecting award winners are as follows: 1.) AIARD Award for Distinguished Service: Demonstrated public service that has advanced AIARD’s purposes; Innovative contributions to AIARD programs; and Length of service in the international arena and in AIARD. 2.) AIARD Award for Special Service: A career-long commitment to the goals of AIARD through active support for international agriculture and rural development initiatives over a professional career of at least 25 years; Significant contributions to international agriculture and rural development through research, teaching, practice, service, or leadership; A previous recipient of at least one other career recognition award from a public sector, professional or civil society organization, or a university; At least 45 years of age during the calendar year in which the nomination is made; and Not an AIARD member. 3.) AIARD Young Professional Award: Demonstrated public service that has advanced AIARD’s purposes; Innovative contributions to AIARD programs; Commitment to international agriculture and rural development and to AIARD; and Recipient must be under 40 years old during the calendar year in which the nomination is made. In order to maintain the integrity of these awards and to meet the goals of AIARD to recognize worthy individuals, nominations will be accepted ONLY FROM ACTIVE MEMBERS. If you have any questions, please contact the chair of the AIARD Awards Committee, Albert Ayeni at ayeni@aesop.rutgers.edu; you may also call him at 848-932-6289.


(TOP) ~ Penn State to host Fulbright global food security seminar

Penn State’s University Park campus was selected by the U.S. Department of State to host more than 70 Fulbright scholars from 40 developing countries for a four-day seminar Feb. 29 to March 4 that will focus on global food security. The Fulbright Global Food Security Seminar will bring together international graduate students in a wide variety of disciplines from plant sciences to public health. The seminar is a joint project of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the University Office of Global Programs (UOGP). Global Knowledge Initiatives (GKI), a nonprofit organization that seeks to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries, will join the collaboration to supervise the closing workshop and presentation contest. "The College of Agricultural Sciences is honored to have been selected to co-host this prestigious event with the University Office of Global Programs," said Bruce A. McPheron, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "As we enter into the sesquicentennial of the founding of the land grant university system, it is important for universities like Penn State to have a global vision of the food system. We are looking forward to hosting the future leaders of agriculture from around the world here on our campus and in our community to share our knowledge and to learn from them about issues we all face together." The seminar builds on the approach to food security in the College of Agricultural Sciences’ curriculum, which is organized around three key components: availability, accessibility and usability, and focuses on five key themes: technology, economics, politics, natural resources and socio-cultural. UOGP recently charged a food security task force that seeks to bring together a multidisciplined group of scholars to discuss and promote scholarship regarding the issue. 

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ FY12-FY13 Region 03Wetland Program

Wetland Program Development Grants (WPDGs) for Region 3, initiated in FY09, provide applicants an opportunity to carry out projects to develop and refine comprehensive wetland programs. The authority for the grant program is Section 104(b)(3) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which restricts the use of these grant funds to improving wetland programs by conducting or promoting the coordination and acceleration of research, investigations, experiments, training, demonstrations, surveys, and studies relating to the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction and elimination of water pollution. All proposed projects must be linked to EPA’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. Awards made under this announcement will support Goal 2: Protecting American Waters, Objective 2.2: Protect and Restore Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems, Increase Wetlands of the EPA Strategic Plan (available at http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/strategicplan.html). Deadline 2 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Virginia Conservation Innovation Grants

Availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in Virginia. Deadline 30 Mar. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Idaho Conservation Innovative Grants

The Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. This notice announces the availability of up to $200,000 for support of this program in FY 2012. These funds are in addition to up to $20 million dollars of funds that may be available through the national CIG grants program. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration. Grants to eligible entities and individuals may not exceed a maximum of $75,000 each. Deadline 11 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Arkansas Conservation Innovation Grants

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Arkansas is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies within the state of Arkansas. The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG project are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references, or to the private sector. CIG is used to apply or demonstrate previously proven technology. Deadline 6 Mar. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Region 1 Wetland Program Development

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine State/Tribal/local government wetland programs as described in Section I, FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION, of this announcement. States, Tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement, as further described herein. Universities that are agencies of a state government are eligible, but must include documentation demonstrating that they are chartered as part of a state government in the proposal submission. Non-profit organizations are not eligible to compete under this RFP. Deadline 26 Mar. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ GeoPRISMS Program

GeoPRISMS (Geodynamic Processes at Rifting and Subducting Margins) is the successor to the MARGINS Program. GeoPRISMS will investigate the coupled geodynamics, earth surface processes, and climate interactions that build and modify continental margins over a wide range of timescales. These interactions cross the shoreline and have applications to margin evolution and dynamics, construction of stratigraphic architecture, accumulation of economic resources, and associated geologic hazards and environmental management. The GeoPRISMS Program includes two broadly integrated science initiatives (Subduction Cycles and Deformation and Rift Initiation and Evolution), linked by five overarching scientific topics and themes, where transformative advances are likely to occur in the next decade, and where a focused scientific program could be most effective. These overarching science topics include 1) Origin and evolution of continental crust; 2) Fluids, magmas and their interactions; 3) Climate-surface-tectonics feedbacks; 3) Geochemical cycles; and 5) Plate boundary deformation and geodynamics. GeoPRISMS website: http://www.geoprisms.org. Deadline 2 Jul.  Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Region 10 Wetland Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine State/Tribal/local government wetland programs as described in Section I, FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION, of this announcement. States, Tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement, as further described herein. Universities that are agencies of a state government are eligible, but must include documentation demonstrating that they are chartered as part of a state government in the proposal submission. Non-profit organizations are not eligible to compete under this RFP. Deadline 9 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ NOAA Regional Ocean Partnership

The purpose of this document is to advise eligible regional ocean partnerships, tribal governments and state, local, and territory governments, institutions of higher learning, and non-profit and for-profit organizations (requirements described in full announcement) that NOAA is soliciting proposals for competitive funding for Regional Ocean Partnerships that include National Ocean Policy (NOP) priorities including regional Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) efforts. The Regional Ocean Partnership Funding Program (ROPFP) will support two categories of activities: 1) Activities that contribute to achieving the priorities identified by Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROPs) while also advancing NOP priorities including the national CMSP Framework; and 2) ROP Development and Governance Support for operations and administration of existing ROPs, and for start-up costs of those regions beginning ROPs. Deadline 2 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad

The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) Program supports overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for groups of teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. Short-term projects may include seminars, curriculum development, or group research or study. Long-term projects support advanced overseas intensive language projects, which give advanced language students the opportunity to study languages overseas. Deadline 23 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Massachusetts Conservation Innovation Grants

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references, or to the private sectors. CIG does not fund research projects. Projects intended to test hypotheses do not qualify for a CIG grant. CIG is used to apply or demonstrate previously proven technology. It is a vehicle to stimulate development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a high likelihood of success, and that are a candidate for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG Program contact: Deb Johnson-Hawks USDA NRC, 413-253-4368, deb.johnson@ma.usda.gov. Deadline 30 Mar. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2012: Fellowships for Early Career Researchers

This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences, including, but not limited to: theory, modeling, and analysis of SMD science data; aircraft, stratospheric balloon, suborbital rocket, and commercial reusable rocket investigations; development of experiment techniques suitable for future SMD space missions; development of concepts for future SMD space missions; development of advanced technologies relevant to SMD missions; development of techniques for and the laboratory analysis of both extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft, as well as terrestrial samples that support or otherwise help verify observations from SMD Earth system science missions; determination of atomic and composition parameters needed to analyze space data, as well as returned samples from the Earth or space; Earth surface observations and field campaigns that support SMD science missions; development of integrated Earth system models; development of systems for applying Earth science research data to societal needs; and development of applied information systems applicable to SMD objectives and data. Deadline 25 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2012: Making Earth System data records for Use in Research Environments

This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences, including, but not limited to: theory, modeling, and analysis of SMD science data; aircraft, stratospheric balloon, suborbital rocket, and commercial reusable rocket investigations; development of experiment techniques suitable for future SMD space missions; development of concepts for future SMD space missions; development of advanced technologies relevant to SMD missions; development of techniques for and the laboratory analysis of both extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft, as well as terrestrial samples that support or otherwise help verify observations from SMD Earth system science missions; determination of atomic and composition parameters needed to analyze space data, as well as returned samples from the Earth or space; Earth surface observations and field campaigns that support SMD science missions; development of integrated Earth system models; development of systems for applying Earth science research data to societal needs; and development of applied information systems applicable to SMD objectives and data. Deadline 15 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Agricultural Extension Capacity Building Activity

The United States Government, represented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Bangladesh is seeking applications from qualified Bangladeshi entities for a Cooperative Agreement to implement a five-year project entitled “Agricultural Extension Capacity Building Activity”, in Bangladesh. This five-year project will promote a demand-driven, commercially-oriented agricultural extension system that involves farmers in a much closer feedback loop with research and extension. All interested parties are encouraged to carefully read this RFA in its entirety. USAID/Bangladesh will hold a pre-application conference to review the requirements of this RFA and to answer questions. Interested applicants should register for the pre-application conference as specified in Section IV. Deadline 30 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Agriculture Commercialization and Innovation Activity

USAID recently announced the release of a Request for Applications (RFA) for its new Agriculture Commercialization and Innovation (AC&I) Activity. AC&I will provide the Bureau for Food Security a platform from which the bureau can fulfill its role to promote new approaches to food security through new and innovative partnerships, tools, and methodologies that improve market access for food insecure households in Feed the Future countries. The AC&I Activity will have four components: Agricultural technology commercialization; Partnership development; Investment design and modeling; Knowledge management. The RFA will accept applications until 4:00 pm EST on March 14, 2012. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Louisiana Conservation Innovative Grants

The Louisiana NRCS requests applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Louisiana NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 will be $150,000. Funds will be awarded through a statewide competitive grants process. Projects must begin implementation within 12 months of the grant award and must be completed within 36 months of the grant award. Applications will be accepted from eligible individuals and entities including Federally-recognized Indian Tribes, State and local governments, and non-governmental organizations. This notice identifies the Louisiana program objectives and eligibility criteria for projects, and provides the associated instructions needed to apply to CIG. Deadline 12 Apr. Read full announcement here

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ Conservation groups seek strong support from Congress

This week, in advance of a Capitol Hill hearing, nearly 650 national, state and local groups asked congressional agriculture leaders to continue strong funding for conservation programs. Mainly from the environmental and conservation movements, the groups told Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) that conservation programs are "essential to the sustainability of U.S. agriculture and forestry." The letter came as agriculture senators prepared to hold a hearing on the farm bill's conservation title, one in a series scheduled to examine different titles of the five-year bill and will help lawmakers when they begin to write the next reauthorization of it later this year. "We urge you to reauthorize the farm bill in a manner that sustains the integrity and effectiveness of the Conservation Title and maintains conservation funding that meets our national needs," the groups wrote. The 643 organizations included big names in the farmland conservation sphere, such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and scientific societies including the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies, down to local organizations in agricultural regions of the United States. The groups also showed strong support for a proposal last fall by Stabenow, Lucas and their ranking members, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.),that would have consolidated the farm bill's 23 conservation programs into 13. That proposal, written during the deficit reduction supercommittee process, organized programs into five categories: working lands programs, regional partnerships that focus on target areas like the Chesapeake Bay, easements, the Conservation Reserve Program and a category that includes everything else. 


(TOP) ~ Protecting Highly Erodible Croplands in the U.S.

USDA has launched a new initiative that will assist producers with targeting their most highly erodible cropland (land with an erodibility index of 20 or greater) by enabling them to plant wildlife-friendly, long-term cover through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Through this initiative, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled on a continuous basis for a period of 10 years beginning this summer at [the producer’s] local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office. Read USDA News Release, "USDA Announces New Highly Erodible Cropland Initiative for Conservation Reserve Program.”


(TOP) ~ New resource on terrestrial impacts of shale-gas exploration

A new resource on terrestrial impacts of shale-gas exploration is available. This is an “open-source” guide meaning anyone can make contributions, edits per a review group, etc. View resource here

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Government Accountability Office report finds wasteful government spending

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided Congressional critics of wasteful government with ammo when it released a report this week that outlined tens of billions of dollars in potential annual savings through the elimination of federal programs, agencies, offices and initiatives with duplicative goals or activities. Charged by Congress to write the report, the GAO cited opportunities for increasing revenue and outlined 51 areas in which the government watchdog says programs could become more efficient. Responding to the negative publicity, the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlined the actions that the administration has already taken to tackle waste and take advantage of cost-saving opportunities, arguing that they have already addressed almost 80 percent of the GAO’s recommendations from last year while Congress has addressed fewer than 40 percent. They also argued that the GAO analysis is limited because it doesn’t take into account the proposals included in the president’s fiscal 2013 budget, which includes the consolidation of 38 K-12 education programs. Not surprising, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a longtime critic of government waste and excess, last week during testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing, said Congress is primarily to blame for the proliferation of duplicative government programs. He criticized his fellow lawmakers for “waging a turf war and holding tight to their parochial interests” and also opposing the administration’s efforts to propose a draft framework for consolidating federal agencies. “Even though the current administration has not done enough to address duplication,” Coburn said, “they are taking steps to propose eliminations and consolidations and have done so with little help from Congress.” Read full report


(TOP) ~ Science funding may be vulnerable yet again

With the Budget Reduction Act’s Jan 2013 automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, around the corner, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is already working with Congress to reduce or eliminate them. “We will work with you to try to develop some approach that can de-trigger sequestration before it happens,” Panetta told the Senate Budget Committee this week. In a show of support, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, ranking Republican of the committee, responded, “I will work with you on that. I believe that’s what we have to do.”  Panetta did not spell out what such a deal might entail. However, President Obama has said he will veto any legislation that would seek to avert sequestration without achieving the $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years, which is required in the debt ceiling law (PL 112-25).  Panetta had previously said only that no planning is under way for dealing with the automatic cuts, which would subtract about a half-trillion dollars from the Pentagon’s budget plans over the next nine years, on top of another half-trillion dollars in cuts already required by budget caps in the law.  As is often the case, science budgets could be seen as viable offsets to any reductions in defense department cuts.  Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters Tuesday that bipartisan efforts to avoid sequestration will get under way in the next several months, but added that there will likely not be any consensus until after the election. Still, he said he is hopeful that there will be a deal in place to avoid the across-the-board cuts that would hit defense and non-defense discretionary spending in January 2013.


(TOP) ~ House passes bill that would rescind higher education regulations

Yesterday, the House passed a bill that would rescind two federal education regulations that Republicans claim are both unnecessary and impose additional costs on institutions of higher education. Sponsored by North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, the measure (HR 2117) would rescind those regulations that are part of a much bigger package of Education Department provisions designed to provide greater accountability for federal student aid spending under the Higher Education Act (PL 89-329). Under the 1965 law, colleges and universities that participate in federal student aid programs must be authorized to provide postsecondary education programs within the states where they are located. In addition, the law establishes that the aid is distributed on the basis of credit hours.  In short, the bill would rescind the Education Department’s regulation defining credit hours and its rules on granting a college or university permission to operate within a state. The House passed the measure, 303-114. 


(TOP) ~ Farm bill deliberations by Senate next month?

The Senate Agriculture Committee (Committee) chairwoman, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced this week plans to begin work on a farm bill near the end of March if agreement can be reached on several areas, particularly the section dealing with commodities. Stabenow stressed that while it was only a possibility that the Committee could take up the measure, she did say that by rescheduling two farm bill hearings for earlier in March, she gave the panel the flexibility to take up the legislation if she believes it is ready. “We want to have time to negotiate after the hearings are done. I would expect and hope that within a few weeks after the hearings, we would be in markup,” Stabenow said after a morning speech to anti-hunger advocates attending a policy conference cosponsored by the Food Research and Action Center. Her committee announced Monday that the last farm bill hearing would be held March 14 rather than March 21. Stabenow said the extra week could be devoted to negotiations among committee members, with the goal of moving as quickly as possible. Off of the Hill, the ag community has little faith that the House and Senate Agriculture committees will be able to finish a new farm bill before the current one (PL 110-246) expires Sept. 30. A number of groups, including the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies, have a stake in the wide-ranging multi-year bill, which sets policy for agriculture, food, conservation and rural economic development. Learn more about Farm Bill hearings


(TOP) ~ House hammers NSF Director over agency funding

Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education (House Science, Space, and Technology Committee) held a hearing, “An Overview of the National Science Foundation Budget for Fiscal Year 2013”.  Witnesses included Dr. Subra Suresh, NSF Director, and Dr. Ray Bowen, chairman of the National Science Board. While most parties recognized the importance of NSF and how vital scientific research is to the future of America, the hearing was tempered by comments reflecting national economic concerns. Some members such as Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) felt that a 5% increase for NSF in FY 2013 was unreasonable while the national debt continues to grow; however, others recognized the importance of NSF programs such as I-Corps which encourages the discovery of new technologies.

Sources: AIARD; Congressional Quarterly; E&E Publishing; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC

Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.

This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.