Science Policy Report

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11 April 2012

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Nominations sought for Borlaug Field Award
~ USDA efforts to reduce global poverty and hunger
~ USAID and Walmart join forces to help Central American farmers
~ Addressing global food insecurity

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Decreasing the Impact of Disasters in the U.S.
~ Kentucky Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program
~ Missouri Conservation Innovation Grants
~ West Africa Seed Program
~ Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I
~ Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics
~ Region 5 Wetland Program Development Grants
~ Wyoming Conservation Innovation Grants
~ New Mexico Conservation Innovation Grants

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture
~ US R&D spending suffered rare decline in 2009
~ SARE's 2011/2012 Report from the Field
~ Federal budget cuts jeopardize crop yield gains

Congressional/Administration News

~ Congressional earmark ban stands
~ Congress gets ready to rumble on FY 2013 budget
~ Stabenow and Roberts introduce Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Act

International Corner

(TOP) ~ Nominations sought for Borlaug Field Award

The World Food Prize is seeking nominations for the new Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. This $10,000 award will recognize exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under age 40 who has clearly demonstrated intellectual courage, stamina and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty. The award will honor an individual who is working closely and directly "in the field" or at the production or processing level with farmers, animal herders, fishers or others in rural communities, in any discipline or enterprise across the entire food production, processing, and distribution chain. Deadline for nominations 30 Jun. View full details here

(TOP) ~ USDA efforts to reduce global poverty and hunger

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service is seeking research grant funding applications from State, Local and Tribal governments, public and private institutions of higher education and nonprofit institutions, among others for its Scientific Cooperation Research Program which is intended to support applied scientific research, extension, or education projects that aim to address challenges faced by smallholder farmers [farmers that own or lease less than 124 acres of land] in emerging economies. This land must be used to support subsistence or cash crop farming. All proposals should address one of the three focus areas: improving agricultural productivity, creating sustainable agricultural systems, or building regional or global trade capacities. All proposals should also utilize the scientific communities’ accumulated knowledge and technologies to help aid in developing 'practical' solutions to these challenges. All proposals must include foreign collaborations and may not exceed two years. Deadline 18 Apr. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ USAID and Walmart join forces to help Central American farmers

USAID and Walmart signed an agreement in March 2011 to support small rural farmers in Central America and to connect them to the retailer's regional and international supply chains. The new partnership links Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative, with Walmart's Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals. Small rural farmers in Central America will earn more from their fresh fruit and vegetable production, which will help them climb out of poverty. Read full press release here

(TOP) ~ Addressing global food insecurity

The USAID Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) has scheduled a public meeting for April 13, 2012 in Washington, DC with the theme centering on the breadth of university partnerships in agricultural research and development with USAID and the future of those relationships. Agenda items include implementation of the agricultural research strategy outcomes of recent research inception workshops on sustainable intensification, hosted by USAID in Ethiopia and Tanzania the USAID Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) [and] the Grand Challenges for Development initiative and the Higher Education Solutions Network Request for Assistance, in which academic institutions were invited to participate.  Read full federal register announcement here

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

(TOP) ~ Decreasing the Impact of Disasters in the U.S.

USDA NIFA is accepting grant funding applications from State Extension Services for projects to implement applied scientific programs that serve public needs in preparation for, during and after local or regional emergency situations. Once a disaster has occurred, the local extension outreach includes: 1) Communicating practical science-based risk information, 2) Developing relevant educational experiences and programs, 3) Working with individuals and communities to open new communication channels, and 4) Mitigating losses and facilitating recovery. NIFA anticipates having approximately $462,000 in total available grant funds for the program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. Deadline 1 Jun. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Kentucky Conservation Innovation Grants

Conservation Innovation grant (CIG) opportunities, as authorized under the farm bill through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), are being offered to Kentuckians for the development of innovative technologies and approaches related to Water Quality, Soil Quality and Agriculture Energy. This funding opportunity will be available for applicants to submit applications for projects from March 16, 2012 through April 16, 2012. Approximately $200,000 has been awarded to the CIG Program for fiscal year 2012. Deadline 16 Apr. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive Grants Program

The Supplemental and Alternative Crops Competitive (SACC) Grants Program will support the development of canola as a viable supplemental and alternative crop in the United States. The goal of the SACC program is to significantly increase crop production and/or acreage by developing and testing of superior germplasm, improving methods of planting, cultivation, and harvesting, and transferring new knowledge to producers (via Extension) as soon as practicable. Extension, education, and communication activities related to the research areas above must be addressed in the proposal. Deadline 16 Apr. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Missouri Conservation Innovation Grants

The NRCS State Office in Missouri is seeking to partner and support the efforts of natural resource conservation partners. 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. Only proposals addressing the following sub-categories will be considered: Energy Conservation, Soil Quality, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture and Invasive Species. Deadline 30 Apr. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ West Africa Seed Program

The goal of the West Africa Seed Program is to improve & expand the availability of certified seed in West Africa through the private sector. No deadline given. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting Federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses. The SBIR program solicits proposals from the small business sector consistent with NSF's mission. Deadline 19 Jun. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics

The Earth is often characterized as dynamic; because its systems are variable over space and time, and they can respond rapidly to multiple perturbations. The goals of the Frontiers in Earth System Dynamics (FESD) program are to: (1) foster an inter-disciplinary and multi-scale understanding of the interplay among and within the various sub-systems of the Earth, (2) catalyze research in areas poised for a major advance, (3) improve data resolution and modeling capabilities to more realistically simulate complex processes and forecast disruptive or threshold events, and (4) improve knowledge of the resilience of the Earth and its subsystems. Deadline 2 Jul. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Region 5 Wetland Program Development Grants

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 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 7 May. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Wyoming Conservation Innovation Grants

Natural Resource Concerns Applications shall demonstrate the use of innovative technologies, approaches, or both to address a natural resource concern or concerns. Eight natural resource concerns have been identified for possible funding through the FY2012 Wyoming Conservation Innovation Grants State competition. Applications that benefit multiple resource concerns shall receive priority for funding, as well as applications that focus on Market Based Approaches. The objective of this approach is to develop, implement, and/or evaluate processes, technology tools, institutional arrangements, or systems that are “market-based” in nature and address one of the priority resource concerns below: Deadline 1 May. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ New Mexico Conservation Innovation Grants

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), New Mexico State Office, hereby announces availability of the New Mexico State Component of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate on-the-ground adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications for the state component are accepted from applicants in New Mexico. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2012 will be approximately $150,000. 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. Deadline 6 Jun. Read full announcement here

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

(TOP) ~ Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture

The “Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture" is the title of a report released by the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) which found that in recent years, direct payments — a type of farm commodity program payment — have made up a large share of Federal agriculture assistance that could be withheld from farmers who fail to comply with highly erodible land conservation or wetland conservation provisions, known collectively as environmental compliance requirements. If direct payments are sharply reduced or eliminated to help reduce the Federal budget deficit, compliance incentives would be reduced on many farms, potentially increasing environmental quality problems. Some farmers will still be subject to compliance through existing Federal agricultural programs (e.g., conservation or disaster programs) or programs that may succeed direct payments. Making federally subsidized crop insurance subject to compliance could also make up some of the lost incentive to farmers. Read full report here

(TOP) ~ US R&D spending suffered rare decline in 2009

Overall spending on research and development conducted in the United States in 2009 is estimated to have totaled $400.5 billion (current dollars), somewhat below the 2008 level of $403.0 billion, although still well above the $377.0 billion spent in 2007. The growth of U.S. R&D from 2007 to 2008 was 6.9%, considerably ahead of the 1.9% expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) during that period (table 2). Although the level of total R&D dropped in 2009 by 0.6%, the depth of the decline was much less than the 2.5% decline in GDP. After adjusting for inflation, the 2009 level declined $6 billion from the 2008 level (down 1.7%) but was still $10 billion higher than in 2007. Read full NSF report here

(TOP) ~ SARE's 2011/2012 Report from the Field

SARE is proud to release its 2011/2012 Report from the Field, the biennial report of the program's recent cream-of-the-crop grantees and their work. Highlights include: *Two brothers in Nebraska boosted corn yields by 10 percent in non-irrigated conditions with moisture-conserving cover crops, and have launched a cover-crop seed business; *Within a year, knowledge gained from a three-day renewable energy training benefited more than 2,600 farmers across the South; *Former tobacco farmers in Kentucky are grossing up to $7,000 per acre on sweet potatoes thanks to new research and outreach from University of Kentucky Extension; and more... Read full report here

(TOP) ~ Federal budget cuts jeopardize crop yield gains

The good news is that US farmers are projected to produce 164 bushels per acre this year, up from 147 bushels last year. In addition, more than 94 million acres are expected to be cultivated this year, producing some 14.2 billion bushels of corn to feed people, livestock and poultry, as well as to power vehicles and ships abroad. Despite a USDA forecast for a bountiful year for American corn growers several recent studies indicate that the gains for corn and other major crops could be slowing down, largely due to a decline in federal and state spending on agricultural research. Public funding decreased 8.6 percent from 2004 to 2009, the latest year for which data is available, after adjusting for inflation. Specifically, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service lost $42 million in earmarked research funds when President Obama dropped them from his fiscal 2012 budget request, and Congress, under a self-imposed earmark ban, did not restore them. With a rewrite of the 2008 Farm Bill increasingly unlikely and a $14+ trillion budget deficit, prospects for seeing renewed federal investment in food and agriculture R&D do not seem bright.

Congressional/Administration News

(TOP) ~ Congressional earmark ban stands

President Obama and House Republican Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, not often known to play nice, do agree on one thing: the earmark ban should continue. Specifically, they both cite the National Drug Intelligence Center as an unnecessary duplication of other, larger federal efforts to track crimes related to narcotics. Surviving for 35 years under the protection of former Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) who served 35 years in Congress and died in 2010, the center received an annual appropriation of $44 million. Now the Justice Department is set to close it by the end of June. In their competing and often conflicting fiscal 2013 budget plans, Obama and Ryan both emphasized to Congress the need to carry through with the plan to shutter the NDIC. In a game of who can be more fiscally responsible, Obama and conservative House Republicans continue to push for a continuation of voluntary ban against earmarking, which is what it is called when lawmakers direct specific amounts of money to certain programs or projects. Although earmarks still have their defenders in both parties, any drive to restore earmarks in the immediate future appears likely to be DOA.

(TOP) ~ Congress gets ready to rumble on FY 2013 budget

In a continuation of the finger-pointing game, President Obama last week attempted to put the blame for the growing ($14+ trillion) federal budget deficit on House Republicans’ shoulders last week. Obama criticized the House budget resolution (H Con Res 112), which was adopted March 29 in a largely party-line vote, for “gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last — education and training, research and development, our infrastructure.” He also blasted the GOP’s proposed overhauls of health care entitlement programs and the tax code. Using words similar to those Republicans cited to criticize his 2013 budget, Obama called the Republican plan “a prescription for decline.” Obama defended his record for cutting the deficit, saying he had “signed into law the biggest spending cut of any president in recent memory” and that he is “willing to make more of those difficult spending decisions in the months ahead.”

(TOP) ~ Stabenow and Roberts introduce Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Act

On 29 Mar, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and ranking member Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced S 2274, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Act, the purpose of which is—(1) to advance the research mission of the Department by supporting agricultural research activities focused on addressing key problems of national and international significance including— *plant health, production, and plant products;*animal health, production, and products;*food safety, nutrition, and health;*renewable energy, natural resources, and the environment;*agricultural and food security;*agriculture systems and technology; and *agriculture economies and rural communities; and (2) to foster collaboration with agricultural researchers from the Federal Government, institutions of higher education, industry, and nonprofit organizations. FFAR duties include: (A) award grants to, or enter into contracts, memoranda of understanding, or cooperative agreements with, scientists and entities, which may include agricultural research agencies in the Department, university consortia, public-private partnerships, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and industry, to efficiently and effectively advance the goals and priorities of the Foundation; (B) in consultation with the Secretary—(i) identify existing and proposed Federal intramural and extramural research and development programs relating to the purposes of the Foundation described in subsection (c); and (ii) coordinate Foundation activities with those programs so as to minimize duplication of existing efforts; (C) identify unmet and emerging agricultural research needs after reviewing the Roadmap for Agricultural Research, Education and Extension as required by section 7504 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (717 U.S.C. 7614a); (D) facilitate technology transfer and release of information and data gathered from the activities of the Foundation to the agricultural research community; (E) promote and encourage the development of the next generation of agricultural research scientists; and (F) carry out such other activities as the Board determines to be consistent with the purposes of the Foundation. Read full bill text here

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

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