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Plant Biology Policy Blog (PB2)
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This blog from ASPB's public affairs unit will provide updates on policy developments in Washington and other plant biology news impacting the ASPB community. Please send any news, comments, or suggestions to ASPB's public affairs director, Adam Fagen, at afagen@aspb.org Policy Archives available under Group Pages.

 

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Top tags: Congress  appropriations  House  USDA  NSF  Senate  NIH  DOE  President Obama  Farm Bill  OSTP  biofuels  award  education  event  fellowship  international  White House  workforce  COMPETES Act  energy  GMO  grants  NSB  Alert  funding  HHMI  National Academies  New York Times  nomination 

Climate Action Plan Released by President Obama

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Wednesday, June 25, President Obama announced a new climate action plan in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. There had been much anticipation leading up to the speech as Obama Administration officials had been laying the groundwork for the announcement and releasing tidbits of information about the plan weeks in advance. The President outlined his action plan just six months into his second term—leaving 3.5 years for his Administration to realize the plan—because it likely will take three years (or more) for the centerpiece of the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from both new and current power plants, to become final, especially factoring in legal challenges to EPA’s future proposed rules on the subject. Additionally, although congressional action is not required to implement the various aspects of the plan, Congress still must agree to fund these various initiatives and programs; House Republicans likely will not look kindly on doing so.

President Obama’s plan centers on three main themes: (1) "cut carbon pollution in America”; (2) "prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change”; and (3) "lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts.” The highlights of the plan include: directing the EPA to create new greenhouse gas emissions standards for new and existing power plants; doubling renewable electricity generation on federal lands by 2020; increasing fuel economy standards that build upon the 2011 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; and creating new energy efficiency standards for appliances.

The Administration also will focus on reducing non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane. In President Obama’s recent trip to Asia, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to reduce the emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have a significantly stronger climate effects than carbon dioxide and are commonly used in refrigerants. Additionally, the EPA, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Interior (DOI), and others, will develop an interagency strategy to reduce methane.

While the majority of the climate action plan focuses on the United States leading international efforts to address climate change and on building smarter and less greenhouse gas-intensive energy sources and infrastructure, there are several pieces of the plan that will be of interest to scientific researchers and academic institutions, including:

Climate Science

  • Climate Research: The plan cites the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) at $2.7 billion, which, under its new strategic plan released last year, will work to advance science, inform decisions, conduct sustained assessments, and communicate with and educate the public.
  • Environmental Observations: In telephone calls with stakeholders following the President’s speech, administration officials reiterated their commitment to environmental monitoring systems, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) satellite systems as well as NOAA’s coastal observations.
  • Climate Change Impacts Assessment: DOE will release an assessment of climate change impacts as they relate to the energy sector.
  • Climate Data: In line with the May 2013 Executive Order on Open Data, the Obama Administration will launch a Climate Data Initiative.
  • National Climate Assessment: The action plan notes the third National Climate Assessment will be released in spring 2014.

Climate Adaptation

  • Disaster Resilience: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will "convene a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure.”
  • Competitive Funds for Environmental Science and Restoration: As Lewis-Burke has reported previously, DOI will make available $100 million in competitive grants made possible from the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental appropriations bill that Congress passed in January. The climate action plan says the grant program will "foster partnerships and promote resilient natural systems while enhancing green spaces and wildlife habitat near urban populations.”
  • Agricultural Sustainability: As Lewis-Burke has previously reported, USDA will create seven new Regional Climate Hubs that will work with universities, DOI’s Climate Science Centers, and NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program to assist agricultural producers in climate change adaptation and resilience.
  • Health Sector Resilience: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will initiate an effort to create resilient hospitals.

Clean Technologies

  • Transportation Technologies: The Administration will continue to invest in research and development of biofuels.
  • Energy Delivery: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will put $23 million towards a Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund, which would allow for academic institutions, among other groups, to design and test new ways in which residential energy can be delivered in a cost-effective manner.
  • Energy Review: A quadrennial energy review will be conducted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Domestic Policy Council in the White House.

Sources and Additional Information:

Tags:  President Obama 

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DOE Funding Bill Approved by House for FY 2014

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On June 26, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $30.4 billion Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill to fund the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Energy (DOE), and other independent agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2014. The Committee bill overall is $2.9 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level and approximately $700 million below the enacted level after sequestration. Please note that comparisons to the FY 2013 enacted level do not reflect the across-the-board reductions required under sequestration. The House bill is $4.1 billion below the President’s budget request. This is the first domestic spending bill that reflects the significant spending reductions that would be needed under the House-passed budget resolution and in the absence of an overall long-term deficit reduction plan that would replace sequestration.

House Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) highlighted the "hard choices” the Subcommittee had to make to meet its spending allocation. The priorities for the bill include DOE’s national security programs, including nuclear weapons; national and regional infrastructure programs through the Army Corps of Engineers; nuclear clean-up; and programs to promote economic competitiveness. The funding recommendations in the bill reflect the decision of the House Republican majority to write the FY 2014 bills to an overall discretionary total of $967 billion, the post-sequester spending cap level. This level is $91 billion below the level of $1.058 trillion for discretionary spending requested by the President and embraced by Senate Democrats that assumes the sequester is overturned and a comprehensive budget agreement is reached.

The House Committee recommends a reduction of $1.4 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration for DOE’s energy programs. For the DOE Office of Science, the House bill would provide $4.653 billion, which is a reduction of about $223 million (4.6 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House bill is nearly $500 million (9.7 percent) below the President’s request for the Office of Science. The Committee indicates that it has given priority to research, such as the basic research done by the Office of Science, which only the federal government is likely to do. Within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, the Committee fully funds the President’s budget request of $24.2 million for each of two Energy Innovation Hubs relating to Fuels from Sunlight and Batteries. The House bill includes $60 million to support the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), a reduction of $40 million below the President’s request. The Committee does not approve the request of an additional $68.7 million to fully fund additional centers. The Committee also approves the budget request for exascale computing totaling $68.58 million. Chairman Frelinghuysen indicated that, as it did last year, the Subcommittee restores cuts to the Fusion Energy program proposed by the President.

The House Committee makes the deepest funding cuts in programs deemed a priority by the Administration. For the Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy (ARPA-E), the House proposes to reduce funding to $50 million, which is a reduction of $215 million (81 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House proposal is $329.0 million (86.8 percent) below the President’s request for ARPA-E. A Democratic amendment to restore the $215 million was defeated on a voice vote because the increased spending was not offset with reductions elsewhere in the bill, and the amendment if adopted, would exceed the Subcommittee’s budget allocation.

The House bill would transfer the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and fund the programs overall at $982.6 million, a reduction of $971 million (49.7 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $1.96 billion (66.6 percent) below the President’s budget request. The President’s budget request proposed to increase these clean energy technology programs by over 50 percent to nearly $3 billion. A Democratic amendment was offered to fund EERE at $2.8 billion during committee consideration of the bill. The amendment was defeated on a party line vote as the amendment if adopted, would exceed the Subcommittee’s budget allocation.

For the electricity programs, the House bill recommends $80 million, a reduction of $32.5 million below the FY 2013 enacted level and $61.4 million below the President’s budget request. The House Committee recommends no funding for the proposed Electricity Systems Energy Innovation Hub for which the President requested $20 million.

Within EERE, the House Committee emphasizes research to address high gas prices through the Bioenergy Technologies, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies, and Vehicle Technologies programs, providing a total of $390 million for these activities. The House Committee also states that advanced manufacturing is a priority, providing $120 million for this program with continued support for the Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub.

The House bill would provide funding for ongoing Nuclear Energy activities at $656.4 million, a reduction of $96.6 million (12.8 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level and $79.1 million (10.8 percent) below the President’s budget request. The bill would provide $450 million for the Fossil Energy R&D programs, which is an increase of $29.4 million (7.0 percent) above the President’s budget request, but $84 million (15.7 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level.

The recommendations for the DOE nuclear security programs administered through the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) total $11.3 billion, which is a decrease of $235.6 million (2.1 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $386.5 million (3.3 percent) below the President’s budget request. These programs include Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. As it did last year, the House Subcommittee approves $25 million to retain the viability of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

For the water infrastructure agencies, the House bill would provide $4.9 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, a reduction of $104 million (2.0 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level excluding emergency appropriations associated with Hurricane Sandy, and $50 million (1.0 percent) above the President’s budget request. The House would provide $965 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, which is $91.7 million (8.8 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level and $93.6 million (8.9 percent) below the President’s request.

House Energy-Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2014

As reported by the House Appropriations Committee, 6/26/13

(In thousands)

FY 2013

Enacted*

FY 2014 Request

FY 2014 House Cmte Mark

House Cmte vs.

FY 2013 Enacted

House Cmte vs.

FY 2014 Request

DOE, total

27,043,427

28,953,893

24,952,252

-2,118,175

(7.8%)

-4,028,641

(13.9%)

Science

4,876,000

5,152,752

4,653,000

-223,000

(4.6%)

-499,752

(9.7%)

Advanced Scientific Computing Research

440,825

465,593

432,365

-8,460

(1.9%)

-33,228

(7.1%)

Basic Energy Sciences

1,689,495

1,862,411

1,583,099

-106,396

(6.3%)

-279,312

(15.0%)

Biological and Environmental Research

610,196

625,347

494,106

-116,090

(19.0%)

-131,241

(21.0%)

Fusion Energy Sciences Program

401,108

458,324

506,076

104,968

(26.2%)

47,752

(10.4%)

High-energy Physics

789,595

776,521

772,521

-17,074

(2.2%)

-4,000

(0.5%)

Nuclear Physics

548,537

569,938

551,953

3,376

(0.6%)

-18,025

(3.2%)

Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists

18,451

16,500

16,500

-1,951

(10.6%)

--

Science Laboratories Infrastructure

111,503

97,818

46,558

-64,945

(58.3%)

-51,260

(52.4%)

Renewable Energy, Energy Reliability and Efficiency

1,953,591

2,944,715

982,637

-970,954

(49.7%)

-1,962,078

(66.6%)

Nuclear Energy

753,000

735,460

656,389

-96,611

(12.8%)

-79,071

(10.8%)

Fossil Energy Research and Development

534,000

420,575

450,000

-84,000

(15.7%)

29,425

(7.0%)

ARPA-E

265,000

379,000

50,000

-215,000

(81.1%)

-329,000

(86.8%)

DOE Defense Activities

11,501,644

11,652,469

11,266,000

-235,644

(2.1%)

-386,469

(3.3%)

Weapons Activities

7,577,341

7,868,409

7,675,000

97,659

(1.3%)

-193,409

(2.5%)

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

2,434,303

2,140,142

2,100,000

-334,303

(13.7%)

-40,142

(1.9%)

Army Corps of Engineers, total

10,330,000‡

4,826,000

4,876,000

-5,454,000

(52.8%)

50,000

(1.0%)

Bureau of Reclamation, total

1,047,719

1,049,584

956,032

-91,687

(8.8%)

-93,552

(8.9%)

* FY 2013 values are based on the FY 2013 enacted values as given in the House report. They do not reflect sequestration.

† The House bill proposes combining EERE and Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability into this new account.

‡ Includes funds from the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill.

For additional information, please see the House Energy-Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee website at http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=339186.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  DOE 

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ASPB President Peggy Lemaux returns to D.C. to address the USDA Economists Group

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Thursday, June 13, 2013

USDA Economists Group Seminar 

Food Fights: Labeling and Other Issues with

Engineered Foods in the Marketplace

Dr. Peggy G. Lemaux, UC-Berkeley

 

Overview:

Our speaker will share a quick background on genes, genetics and genetic engineering (aka biotechnology, GMOs). She will explore which GE (GM) crops have been commercialized for foods and those which might be in the future. These points will lead into the labeling issue with GE foods.

Presenter:

Lemaux is a faculty member in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She has statewide responsibility for educational programming designed to increase public understanding of agricultural practices, food production and the impact of new technologies on food and agriculture. She has developed an award--‐winning website, http://ucbiotech.org/, displays, games, videos and curricula. Lemaux has a vigorous research program aimed at genetic engineering of cereal crops for agronomic and nutritional improvement. She is also involved in engineering tobacco to produce hydrocarbon biofuels. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Agronomy and the American Society of Plant Biologists, for which she currently serves as president.

Date: Monday, June 17, 2013

Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm

Place: 107--A Room 107--A in the Whitten Building,

1400 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC.

Directions to USDA: http://www.dm.usda.gov/driving_directions.htm

Non Federal employees need to be escorted in the building: Contact Bruce McWilliams at Bruce.McWilliams@wdc.usda.gov by Thursday, June 13, 2013 for arrangements.

You may RSVP at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dEhoams1QXVwV1IxT250VXdWcz VzOWc6MQ

 

Tags:  USDA 

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Senate and House of Representatives Make Progress on the 2013 Farm Bill

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Congress returned from the Memorial Day recess having made significant progress on the 2013 Farm Bill. On May 14 and 15, respectively, the Agriculture Committees in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives approved their versions of the 2013 Farm Bill. The Senate continues debate on its version of the bill this week, hoping to whittle down a list of some 200 amendments with a goal of passing the bill before Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) turns to the comprehensive immigration reform bill. The full House expects to debate its bill later this month. The House and Senate versions of the bill largely mirror the legislation approved last year, thus setting up the same potential issues over reforms of the crop insurance and related commodity support programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); both must be worked out before a final bill can be enacted.

 

Senate Bill

On May 14, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved legislation that, if enacted into law, would result in a far-reaching reorganization of programs supporting the nation’s farmers and ranchers. On a bipartisan 15 to 5 vote, the Committee approved S. 954, the Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill would dramatically restructure farm income support and crop insurance programs, as well as eliminate, consolidate, and streamline existing programs for conservation, rural development, trade, nutrition, energy, research and extension, forestry, and related programs for the five-year period through fiscal year (FY) 2018.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Senate’s nearly $955 billion authorization bill would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated net $17.8 billion over ten years below current law projections. This bill governs spending on entitlement and mandatory programs that are not subject to annual appropriations action by Congress. It also authorizes appropriations for programs, such as the research programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Congress must fund each year in the appropriations bills.

 

House Bill

On May 15, the House Committee on Agriculture approved a bipartisan 2013 Farm Bill on a vote of 36 to 10 following a marathon mark up. The House version of the Farm Bill, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM), reflects a serious effort to reduce overall spending associated with agriculture-related and nutrition programs, and sets up some major issues, including crop insurance, commodity assistance, and benefits under SNAP, to be addressed with the Senate during eventual conference negotiations toward a final bill.

According to preliminary estimates by the CBO, the House version of the Farm Bill would total $940 billion over ten years and would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated $33.3 billion over ten years below current law projections.

In addition to the programs discussed below, both the Senate and House bills extend supplemental disaster assistance for livestock producers and other farmers experiencing losses due to drought and other natural disasters.

 

Research Programs

For the research programs authorized in the bills, existing authorities are largely extended through fiscal year (FY) 2018, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Both bills extend the authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at the current $700 million annual level (AFRI is currently funded at about $275 million in FY 2013). The Senate states that it makes no policy changes in the research programs of USDA. The House Committee notes that given current budget constraints, the Committee reduces existing authorization levels (not actual spending) by an estimated $500 million, and includes specific authorized funding levels for programs with open-ended ("such sums as may be necessary”) authorizations. The House Committee also removes USDA’s authority to fund non-competitive grants.

Both the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill continue the current formula grant programs for land-grant institutions through FY 2018. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch Act and Smith-Lever Act have open-ended authorizations for appropriations at "such sums as may be necessary.” Both bills extend the authorizations for the Extension Service and for Hispanic-Serving Institutions through FY 2018.

Neither the Senate nor House bills address the indirect cost rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus, under the proposed bills, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established in the Agriculture title of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the indirect cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.

The most controversial provision in the research title of the House bill is a requirement (Section 7128) for USDA to institute a 1:1 match for new research grants. There is significant concern by researchers over the requirement to match federal funding from USDA on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

The Administration takes issue with a Senate and House provisions (Sections 7512 and 7513, respectively) barring USDA from obligating appropriated funding for extramural competitive research grants unless USDA submits a comprehensive spending plan to Congress for its approval.

Both the House and Senate bills reinstate the authorization of mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Research and Extension Initaitive, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program. These programs expired with other Farm Bill authorities last year when Congress failed to extend existing law.

The Senate bill authorizes a total of $416 million in mandatory funding for Specialty Crops over the FY 2014-FY 2023 period. A total of $80 million in mandatory funding over five years is provided for the Organic Research Initaitive. Finally, $85 million in mandatory funding over five years is provided for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program with military veterans included as eligible for the program.

CBO estimates mandatory spending for research, extension, and related matters in the House bill at $760 million over ten years. The House bill would provide $555 million over ten years for Specialty Crop Research; $100 million over five years for Organic Agriculture Research and Extension; and $100 million over five years for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grants, also broadening eligibility to military veterans, and providing a set-aside of not more than five percent for this purpose.

Both bills also create a Veterinary Services Investment program to help address the shortage of veterinarians. The bills authorize $10 million for each fiscal year beginning in FY 2014 for activities to recruit, train, support, and retain veterinarians.

The Senate bill creates the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) as it did last year and includes $200 million in mandatory funding to capitalize the Foundation for research, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis from non-federal funding. FFAR would promote a public-private partnership to leverage additional funding for agriculture research. The Senate bill includes mandatory funding of $200 million over five years toward this effort, which must be matched by non-federal funding through the Foundation. The House bill does not include FFAR in its version of the bill as it did last year.



Tags:  Farm Bill  House  Senate  USDA 

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The National Science Board Requests Information on the Administrative Burden of Federally-Funded Researchers

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The National Science Board's Task Force on Administrative Burdens' has issued a request for information (RFI) to reduce investigator’s administrative workload for federally funded research. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has developed a survey to guide the development of a response to this RFI (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FASEBadminburden). The survey requests up to three areas where you experience the greatest administrative burden in your daily operations.

Alternatively, you can submit individual responses as detailed in the full RFI, found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-03-29/pdf/2013-07331.pdf

From the Federal Register:

"Purpose:

This RFI offers principal investigators with Federal research funding the opportunity to identify Federal agency and university requirements that contribute most to their administrative workload and to offer recommendations for reducing that workload. Members of the National Science Board’s Task Force on Administrative Burdens do not wish to increase your administrative workload with this request and you may choose to answer only those questions that are most pertinent to you. Your responses will provide vital input so that we can implement agency-level changes and offer recommendations to reduce unnecessary and redundant administrative requirements.”

Tags:  NSB 

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ASPB Applauds the President's Commitment to Scientific Research Investments in the FY 2014 Budget Request

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is pleased with President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request, which improves upon his past commitments to the agricultural and plant sciences.

A sustainable future, with a more nimble, more complete, and innovative workforce, is in the national interest. The challenge, however, is to execute this strategy in an era of economic limits where anticipated outcomes must justify the investment of limited resources. We cannot meet the food, shelter, and energy demands of our burgeoning global population—especially with climate instability as a backdrop—if investment into plant-related research stagnates in this country. Ending that stagnation, however, will allow us to leverage the new technologies that are transforming biology, thereby accelerating the pace of discovery and promising creative and sustainable solutions. President Obama’s FY 2014 proposed budget is a step toward addressing these issues.

Specifically, ASPB applauds the President’s strong commitment to the National Science Foundation and the proposed increase of $4 million to the Plant Genome Research Program, as well as the President’s proposed increases to Basic Energy Sciences and Biological and Environmental Research within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Notably, ASPB is also pleased with the President’s request for a substantial increase to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, proposing an increase of over 28 percent compared to the recently-passed FY 2013 level from Congress, not accounting for sequestration.

If the United States is to tackle societal challenges in food, energy, environment, and health, strategic investments in the agricultural and plant sciences is vital. ASPB hopes the President will continue his dedication to these issues and urges Congress to commit to these needs, as well.

 

Tags:  appropriations  President Obama 

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USDA/NIFA Releases Plan for Funding Under the Sequester

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Monday, March 18, 2013

In an email to USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners, NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy released the agency's plan for implementing the sequester.  NIFA plans on funding all existing Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) awards, but will likely fund fewer new grants under the 5% reduction required by sequestration.   Formula and capacity funding along with other research, education and extension program funding would also take a hit. 

 The email in its entirety can be found below or at http://nifa.usda.gov/email_prntrs_seques.pdf


Colleagues,

As you are likely aware, due to the failure of Congress to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, the President was required by law to issue a sequestration order canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year (FY) 2013.

It is our intent at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Agriculture

(USDA) to provide you with clear information about how these budget cuts impact us, and in turn what it means for funds provided to our land-grant universities and other partners who benefit from programs administered by NIFA.

At this time, USDA is taking every step to mitigate the effects of these cuts, but based on our initial analysis, it is possible that your organization’s workforce, revenue, and planning processes may be affected. Based on the

5 percent sequestration reductions that apply to the FY 2013 funding amounts, NIFA anticipates the following funding impacts:

• A reduction of $13 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), competitive grants program, potentially resulting in fewer new proposals that may be funded during FY 2013;

• AFRI Continuation awards from previous Fiscal Years will not be impacted by the sequestration, and, continued funding will be based on evaluations of performance and meeting stated goals;

• Reductions totaling almost $37 million for capacity/formula funding; and,

• Reductions for other research, education and extension programs totaling over $10 million.

While we are currently operating under the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, which provides temporary funding through March 27, 2013, NIFA is proceeding with announcements for Requests for Applications for most competitive grants programs and will hold competitive peer review panels. However, grant awards will be contingent upon receipt of final FY 2013 appropriations.

NIFA plans to release some Formula Grant Opportunities announcements soon. Consistent with the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, only up to 40 percent of the FY 2012 funding level will be released for the first two quarters.

Thank you for your continued partnership with the USDA and NIFA, and for your cooperation as we work together to manage these challenging circumstances.

As always, we will continue to notify you as the situation with FY 2013 funding levels moves through the appropriations process in Congress.

--

Sonny Ramaswamy

USDA-NIFA

Tags:  appropriations  grants  USDA 

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FY 2013 Appropriations Update: Sequester and Revisiting the Continuing Resolution

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC , Wednesday, March 06, 2013

In the absence of agreement on a long-term deficit reduction plan, on March 1st, President Obama signed an order directing federal agencies to reduce spending subject to sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that to achieve the necessary $85 billion in savings, sequestration would require a reduction of approximately 5.0 percent in non-defense discretionary spending and 7.8 percent in non-exempt defense discretionary spending. Additional reductions will be taken in certain mandatory programs specified in the law.

As federal agencies prepare to implement the sequester, the Congress is turning its attention to the Continuing Resolution (CR), which is currently funding the entire federal government through March 27. There is general agreement between Congress and the White House and between Democrats and Republicans that there should be no government shutdown. It also appears likely that there will be no attempt to try to overturn the sequester in the final appropriations bill.

So what is likely to happen?

  • Due to the significant uncertainty, many federal agencies restrained spending to hedge their bets in the uncertain budgetary situation. Many agencies have implemented the traditional CR formula using the lowest of the FY 2012 enacted level, the President’s FY 2013 budget request, the House appropriations level, or the Senate appropriations level. Agencies have also retained some percentage of funding under the CR in anticipation of a possible sequester.
  • Because of these actions, the impact of the sequester will vary by agency depending on the types of programs it funds. For federal research agencies, the first priority is likely to be funding existing grants and grantees.
  • Until Congress completes action on the FY 2013 appropriations bill, research agencies are likely to delay announcing new funding opportunities.
  • Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working on the CR. The House Committee expects to fund defense-related bills and to continue the CR level for other federal agencies. The Senate Committee may offer an omnibus appropriations bill to complete action on all 12 bills as significant progress on such a bill was made late last year.
  • Once agencies have a full-year budget to implement their programs, there could be a flurry of funding solicitations released with relatively short times for submitting applications in order to obligate funding this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

In the meantime, each federal agency will be refining its plan to implement the sequester (please see below for a list of agency resources on the sequester). Congress and the White House will work to agree on final FY 2013 appropriations, which will be subject to the sequester. The next opportunity to restart negotiations between the White House and Congress on a long-term deficit reduction plan, which may or may not revisit the sequester, will be during consideration of the budget resolution for FY 2014 and discussions on raising the ceiling on the debt limit, which expires on May 19.

 

Sequestration Resources

White House

The President’s sequestration order (released March 1) can be viewed at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/2013sequestration-order-rel.pdf.

White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
OMB released a memorandum on federal agency responsibilities for implementation of sequestration (released February 27): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2013/m-13-05.pdf.

OMB also sent a report to Congress which provides calculations on budgetary resources that are required to be reduced under sequestration (released March 1): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/fy13ombjcsequestrationreport.pdf.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH released the following operation plan in event of a sequestration (released February 21): http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-13-043.html.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF released this notice regarding the impact of sequestration on NSF awards (released February 27): http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/in133/in133.pdf.

Department of Education

The Department of Education released additional information on sequestration’s impact on Title IV student financial assistance programs (released March 1): http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/030113ImpactofSequestrationonTitleIVFSAProg.html.

Senate Appropriations Committee

On February 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the impacts of sequestration. The website below will link you to a list of department and agency letters to the Committee with information about how sequestration is expected to impact each entity. Information for NSF, NIH, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Education, Agriculture, and Energy (as well as numerous others) can be found here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-full.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=17d3dc99-c065-4bec-a7c8-cfd374bf41a3.

The Washington Post

The White House released information on the expected impact of sequestration for each state. The Washington Post published this information and arranged it by category (White House released information on February 24): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/sequestration-state-impact/.

 

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  NIH  NSF  President Obama  Washington Post  White House 

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Obama Administration Directs Federal Agencies to Expand Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Friday, February 22, 2013

In a policy memorandum released today, the Obama Administration "has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research."

The White House post describing the new policy is copied below and is linked to here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/22/expanding-public-access-results-federally-funded-research?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+whitehouse%2Fostp+%28WhiteHouse.gov+Blog+Feed%3A+Office+of+Science+and+Technology+Policy%29

Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research

Posted by Michael Stebbins on February 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM EST

The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for. That’s why, in a policy memorandum released today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the Peoplepetition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.

To see the new policy memorandum, please visit:http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf

To see Dr. Holdren’s response to the We the People petition, please visit:https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/increasing-public-access-results-scientific-research

Michael Stebbins is Assistant Director for Biotechnology at OSTP

Tags:  Open access  OSTP 

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Suresh to Step Down as NSF Director

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Tuesday, February 05, 2013
On February 5, the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Subra Suresh announced he will be leaving his position at NSF in March to become president of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Suresh stated in a note to NSF staff, "It has been my extraordinary honor to lead the National Science Foundation, which is blessed with a marvelous cohort of highly talented and devoted staff, as well as hundreds of thousands of innovative grantees and investigators from every field of science and engineering. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the country in this capacity.” Suresh was appointed NSF director by President Barack Obama in 2010. His successor has not yet been named.

Links:

NSF Press Release: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126833&org=NSF&from=news

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/cmu-names-suresh-new-president-to-succeed-cohon-673490/

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White House Office of Science & Technology Policy - Summer 2013 Internship

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) calls for applications for its Student Volunteer Program for Summer 2013.  Undergraduate, graduate, and professional program students are encouraged to apply - via OSTP:

OSTP Student Volunteer Program—Summer 2013

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Summer 2013 Student Volunteer Program. The application deadline is 11:59pm Friday, February 22nd. Students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the Fall 2013 semester are welcome to apply.

More information and application instructions are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/about/student/.

About OSTP. The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government.

About the Student Volunteer Program. Student Volunteersare accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall),which each last no more than 90 days.While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena.

For questions, please contact Lauren Andersen, landersen@ostp.eop.gov.

Lauren Andersen

Policy Advisor

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Executive Office of the President

Tags:  fellowship  OSTP 

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Call for Applications for 2013-2014 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has announced a call for applications for their 2013-2014 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships.

The S&T Policy Fellowship, a unique one-year professional development opportunity,provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the California Legislature to incorporate science and technology into public policy. The fellowships build on the highly successful model of the Science and Technology Policy Fellowships offered by the American Advancement for Science (AAAS) each year. Eligible applicants are PhD-level (or equivalent) scientists and engineers who are "interested in improving the interface between science and legislative decision-making and who want to learn the public policy decision-making process.”

Application information can be found here: http://fellows.ccst.us/apply.php. All applications must be submitted online by February 28, 2013. More information is available at http://fellows.ccst.us.

Tags:  fellowship  policy 

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Drought Briefing on Capitol Hill Co-Sponsored by ASPB

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Friday, December 21, 2012

ASPB co-sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill, titled "From the Root Up: Understanding the 2012 Drought,” with the American Meteorological Society. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hosted the briefing, which discussed both the impacts to crops from this year’s drought as well as the meteorological and climate conditions that lead to the drought. Dave Wegner, Professional Staff for the House Committee on Transportation’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment provided opening remarks in order to frame the briefing and subsequent discussion. The briefing was well attended, with over 60 congressional staff and stakeholders present.

ASPB invited John Boyer (in photo, left), the E. I. du Pont Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics Emeritus at the University of Delaware to speak about how plants respond to drought and the advances in crop drought tolerance. Dr. Boyer noted that this year’s drought in the Midwestern U.S. was initially expected to cause losses in our food supply. However, this was averted thanks to plant biology research that has led to the incorporation of drought tolerant traits in modern crops. Dr. Boyer explained that further research is needed in plant biology in order to build upon these successes and improve drought tolerance in crops. In response to a question from the audience, Dr. Boyer noted that despite these advances, food prices still rose this year because other parts of the world are increasingly demanding animal protein and, subsequently, increasingly demanding grain to feed animals.

The American Meteorological Society invited John Nielsen-Gammon (in photo, middle), Regents Professor at Texas A&M University and Texas State Climatologist, as well as Roger Pulwarty (in photo, right), Director of the National Integrated Drought Information System at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon discussed how climatic conditions make certain parts of the world, including the Midwest, more susceptible to drought, and Dr. Pulwarty spoke about the ways in which various government agencies work with state and local stakeholders to plan decisions around drought information and forecasts.

ASPB will continue to educate Members of Congress and their staff on plant biology related issues through congressional briefings and meetings in order to advance plant biology research.

Tags:  briefing  Congress  drought 

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OMB Issues Sequester Report Outlining Potential Across-the-Board Spending Reductions in Early January 2013

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On September 14, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a report that outlines the potential across-the-board spending reductions (impacts on specific agencies of interest below) scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, due to Congress' failure last year to pass a deficit reduction package totaling at least $1.2 trillion over ten years. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt limit agreement), Congress enacted the across-the-board sequester to achieve deficit reduction should the efforts of the Supercommittee fail as they ultimately did.

Prior to the August recess, Congress passed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-155) that requires the President to submit a report to Congress on the potential impacts of the sequester. In that report, the President makes clear his Administration has no flexibility in calculating or implementing the sequester as they are defined in law.

According to the report, the sequester would be applied to more than 1,200 federal budget accounts as follows:

  • The overall reduction in spending would be an estimated $109.3 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2013.
  • The reduction would be split equally between defense and nondefense spending, with each being reduced by nearly $54.7 billion.
  • The estimated reduction for nondefense discretionary programs would be 8.2 percent (note: Pell grants are exempt from the sequester).
  • The estimated reduction for defense discretionary programs would be 9.4 percent, and reflects the President's decision (as allowed by law) to exempt military personnel from the sequester.
  • Payments to Medicare providers would be reduced by 2.0 percent as capped in the law.
  • Other non-exempt, nondefense mandatory programs would be reduced by 7.6 percent.
  • Non-exempt, defense mandatory programs would be reduced by 10.0 percent.

The report notes that should the sequester actually be triggered in January, OMB would have to run the calculations and the sequester amounts could change. The Administration underscores, however, that "the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.” The President calls on Congress to work toward a "comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction plan” to avoid the sequester. Republicans and Democrats have been unable to coalesce around a mechanism/structure for doing so, with most proposals thus far being highly partisan.

The sequester would be applied to the FY 2012 enacted funding levels in the absence of final FY 2013 appropriations bills. Examples of the potential funding impact of the sequester could be:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) – an estimated reduction of $2.518 billion;
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), Research account – an estimated reduction of $469 million;
  • Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science – an estimated reduction of $400 million;
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Science account – an estimated reduction of $417 million;
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Operations, Research, and Facilities – an estimated reduction of $257 million;
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Scientific and Technical Research Services – an estimated reduction of $47 million;
  • Department of Defense (DOD) RDT&E – each service and the defense-wide account would be reduced from an estimated $954 million (Army) to as much as an estimated $2.7 billion (Air Force); and
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Research and Education Activities – an estimated reduction of $58 million.

The sequester report provides the amounts of the sequester, but it does not include specifics about the programmatic impacts of such large potential funding reductions, which will be the questions now asked of the Administration. The President and Congressional leaders will likely try to find an accommodation to address the pending sequester during the lame duck session following the election.

Source: The "OMB Report Pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-155)” can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/stareport.pdf.

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SBIR - Webinar and Request for Comments

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Changes to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are currently being implemented following the law that was signed in December 2011 to reauthorize these programs through 2017. As a result of these changes the Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking comments from the community on its policy directive, which provides guidance to federal agencies to implement its SBIR/STTR programs. SBA feels that public input would be valuable and may use comments in an amended directive in the future.Please note that SBA can amend the policy directive as needed.

The recently passed law reauthorizing the SBIR/STTR programs contained several provisions of interest to universities including an agreement to slowly increase the set aside percentage for SBIR from 2.5 to 3.2 percent and the STTR set aside from 0.3 percent to 0.45 percent over the course of the six-year reauthorization. The reauthorization also increased Phase I and Phase II award levels, and included several provisions to promote commercialization.

Given the provisions of the law which could have a direct impact on universities I thought you would be interested in SBA's invitation to comment on the policy directive. Specific areas of interest to universities include, but are not limited to:

  • Provisions to promote commercialization such as the proposed National Institutes for Health (NIH) Proof of Concept pilot program, which would provide funding to qualifying intuitions, including universities, to accelerate commercialization of research.
  • Techniques to promote the transfer between Phase I and Phase II of SBIR.
  • New commercialization benchmarks, which will be established in 2013.

The importance of innovation and public private partnerships to the current Administration across federal agencies, as well as increased funding for SBIR and STTR, make it important for universities comment on issues of relevance. Comments must be submitted to SBA by October 5, 2012. To assist stakeholders with the directives and provide further information on the comment process SBA is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 2pm EDT. To join the webinar, you must register by 11:59 on August 28 by emailing technology@sba.gov.

Additional Information:

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AFRI Foundational Grants Program RFA to Be Released in September

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Wednesday, August 22, 2012

According to the AFRI website, the release of the request for applications for the AFRI Foundational Grants program has been moved from this month to September 2012.

Additional information is available at http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html.

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USDA Extends Application Due Dates and Increases Funding for Food Safety Improvement through AFRI

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has modified its funding opportunity for proposals to improve the safety of the nation's food supply by reducing foodborne hazards. USDA intends to combine the fiscal year (FY) 2012 and FY 2013 opportunities and has increased the amount of funding available to approximately $10 million. The deadlines for the submission of letters of intent and full proposals have both been extended as outlined below. Please read the full Request for Application (RFA) for the changes to the previously announced food safety funding opportunity.

USDA seeks proposals with a focus on addressing emerging food safety issues, developing mitigation strategies for anti-microbial resistance, and improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The Obama Administration has identified food safety as one of five major challenge areas for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). USDA continues to build on the original goals announced for the competitive Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

In the Request for Applications, USDA seeks proposals in three areas:

  • Control and mitigation strategies for known pathogens on foods not generally the subject of foodborne illnesses, such as carrot juice, broccoli powder, pepper, and hazelnuts;
  • Strategies to address antimicrobial resistance in food production; and
  • Improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut produce.

Letters of Intent: Letters of Intent are required and are due September 17, 2012.

Due Date: Applications are due December 5, 2012.

Total Funding and Award Size: USDA plans to provide up to $10 million for new grants under this funding opportunity.

Critical and Emerging Food Safety Issues. USDA will support both basic and applied research on emerging pathogens with a particular emphasis on mitigation strategies. Also of interest are strategies to control contamination of foods not usually associated with such pathogens. Collaboration with industry and government are encouraged.

Standard Grants may be up to $300,000 total, including indirect costs, for a project period up to five years. USDA expects to make up to six awards. Research grants are requested. Applications for Conference and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants may also be submitted.

Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance. USDA seeks grants addressing one or more of four topics: to identify critical points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in animal production systems; to determine and assess effective mitigation strategies; to develop effective training and education materials; and to design studies to assess potential interventions.

Standard Grants may be up to $800,000 total, including indirect costs, for a project period up to five years. USDA expects to make up to six new awards. Integrated Projects are requested. Conference and FASE Grants will also be accepted. Applications from and collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions, USDA EPSCoR institutions, and other small or mid-sized institutions are encouraged.

Safety of Fresh and Fresh-cut Produce. USDA identifies several challenges and seeks applications that focus on the ecology of foodborne pathogens in production, processing, and retail settings and strategies for countering such threats. Grants can also focus on how to improve methods of handling fresh and fresh-cut food products, and the development of new food processing technologies.

USDA seeks Standard Grants of up to $425,000, including indirect costs, for projects of up to five years. USDA anticipates making up to eight new awards. Integrated project proposals are requested. Conference and FASE Grants may also be submitted. Applications from and collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions, USDA EPSCoR institutions, and other small or mid-sized institutions are encouraged.

Eligibility and Limitations: Eligible applicants include public, state, and private colleges and universities; Native American tribal organizations; non-profit organizations; small businesses; for-profit organizations other than a small business; and individuals.

Cost-sharing Requirement: Cost sharing is required under certain circumstances, including for equipment. If a funded grant is commodity specific and not of national scope, a one-to-one match can be required. There is some waiver authority available to the Secretary of Agriculture. Please see the full RFA referenced below for additional details.

Sources and Additional Information:

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Join SOAR to Discuss Agricultural Research in America

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What: A live, online discussion on the future of agricultural research
Who: The field's leading voices, and you
Where: This is an online event. Please register here.
When: July 25, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EDT

ASPB is a founding member of Supporters of Agricultural Research (SOAR). We encourage you to participate in the online launch of this new organization, which aims to help increase funding for the competitive, investigator-initiated agricultural research supported by the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Please register here.

 

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Farm Bill Approved by House Agriculture Committee

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Monday, July 16, 2012
On July 11, the House Committee on Agriculture approved a bipartisan 2012 Farm Bill on a vote of 35 to 11 following a marathon mark up in which approximately 100 amendments were filed to the bill. The House version of the Farm Bill, H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM), reflects a serious effort to reduce overall spending associated with agriculture-related and nutrition programs and sets up some major issues, including crop insurance and benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/formerly food stamps), to be addressed with the Senate during eventual conference negotiations toward a final bill.

In introducing the House version of the Farm Bill, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) noted that the bill is bipartisan and that his work with his Ranking Member, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) has "resulted in a reform-minded, fiscally responsible policy that is equitable for farmers and ranchers in all regions and will lead to improved program delivery.” Rep. Peterson characterized the bill as putting Congress a step closer to "complet[ing] work on the 2012 Farm Bill before the current bill expires” on September 30. Rep. Peterson called on the House leadership to take up the bill for debate by the full House of Representatives before the August recess so the House and Senate can conference a final bill in September.

The Chairman and Ranking Member highlighted that the House bill:

  • Saves more than $35 billion in mandatory funding, with nearly half of the savings associated with changes/reforms in the SNAP program;
  • Repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs across USDA;
  • Eliminates direct payments and countercyclical payments to farmers for commodity losses, as does the Senate bill, and makes changes to commodity policy that would save more than $14 billion;
  • Consolidates conservation programs, going from 23 programs to 13 for savings of about $6 billion; and
  • Makes changes to reduce the federal regulatory burdens on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

According to preliminary estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the House version of the Farm Bill would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated $35.1 billion over ten years from current law projections. This bill governs spending on entitlement and mandatory programs that are not subject to annual appropriations action by Congress. It also authorizes appropriations for programs, such as the research and extension programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Congress must fund each year in the appropriations bills.

The Committee adopts reforms to nutrition entitlement programs, including significant changes to the SNAP program, for net savings of nearly $16.1 billion over ten years. During Committee consideration of the bill, amendments to reverse the SNAP program cuts and to scale them back to $4.5 billion, the amount approved in the Senate version of the bill, were defeated.

As does the Senate bill, the House bill achieves additional deficit reduction by eliminating direct and countercyclical payments and related payments for major commodity programs, such as wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. These provisions save $14 billion over ten years. The Committee bill also includes provisions to streamline and reform commodity policy. CBO estimates net savings from the commodity programs at $23.6 billion over ten years. The Senate bill saved $19.8 billion over ten years. The House bill continues crop insurance with a goal of improving coverage for producers of all crops in all regions.

As does the Senate bill, the House bill proposes to eliminate duplication and consolidate federal programs, such as conservation programs. The House bill would save nearly $6.1 billion over ten years from proposed changes in conservation programs.

For the USDA research and extension programs, the House bill would largely extend current programs; however given current budget constraints, the Committee reduces existing authorization levels (not actual spending) by an estimated $500 million, and includes specific authorized funding levels for programs with open-ended ("such sums as may be necessary”) authorizations. The House Committee also removes USDA’s authority to fund non-competitive grants.

The most controversial provision in the research title of the bill is a requirement for USDA to institute a 1:1 match for applied research grants that are commodity-specific or State-specific. While there is waiver authority for the Secretary of Agriculture should such research be determined "a national priority,” there is significant concern over the requirement to match federal funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis. An amendment was offered by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) to strike this provision (Section 7127) from the bill. After discussion and assurances by the Chairman and Ranking Member that they will work with Committee Members, affected stakeholders, and USDA to craft a consensus that could be included in the final bill, the amendment was withdrawn.

The House bill would extend the authorization for intramural research through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) through FY 2017. It would also reauthorize the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through FY 2017 and extend the authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at the current $700 million annual level (AFRI is funded at $264.5 million in FY 2012). The bill would also reauthorize funding for the Extension Service and extends authority for the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) program.

The House Committee continues mandatory funding, as well as authorizes additional appropriations if Congress so chooses, for Specialty Crop Research, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension, and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development. CBO estimates mandatory spending for research, extension, and related matters in the House bill at $546 million over ten years. The House broadens eligibility for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grants to military veterans, providing a set-aside of not more than five percent for this purpose.

Also within the research title, as did the Senate, the House bill would establish a new program to recruit, train, support, and retain veterinarians. The bill authorizes $10 million for each fiscal year beginning in FY 2013.

The House version of the Farm Bill has no provisions affecting the current formula grant programs for land-grant institutions. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch Act and Smith-Lever Act have open-ended authorizations for appropriations at "such sums as may be necessary.”

The House bill does not address the indirect cost rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus, under the proposed House bill, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established in the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House and Senate versions of the FY 2013 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill currently pending before Congress would extend the 30 percent indirect cost rate for another year. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the indirect cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.

The House bill does not include provisions that would establish a non-profit Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to promote a public-private partnership to leverage additional funding for agriculture research. The Senate bill includes language to create FFAR with mandatory funding of $100 million toward this effort, which must be matched by non-federal funding through the Foundation.

The House Farm Bill would extend existing energy programs affecting rural areas for five years through FY 2017, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), which would be authorized at $20 million annually. In a significant departure from the Senate bill, the House provides that these energy programs are subject to funding by Congress through the annual appropriations bills. The Senate bill provides nearly $800 million in mandatory spending to continue existing energy programs, which would require no further action by the Congress.

Following the completion of the House committee markup, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack issued a statement that took issue with the recommended deep cuts in the SNAP program and with "misguided” reductions to energy and conservation programs. The Secretary indicated that the Administration would work with Congress during the legislative process to achieve a Farm Bill that is consistent with the President’s budget and policies.

Sources:

To view the text of the House Committee-approved bill, a summary of its provisions, and a section-by-section description of the bill, please see http://agriculture.house.gov/singlepages.aspx?NewsID=1227&LSBID=1271.

 

 

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NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter: Beyond the Genome: IOS Funding Opportunities for FY 2012-2013

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Monday, July 02, 2012

On June 25, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences released a Dear Colleague Letter to notify the community of additional fiscal year (FY) 2012-2013 funding opportunities within the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS). These opportunities are in addition to programs announced in specialized Program Solicitations, and aim to address the need for continued support of training at all levels.

Mid-Career Supplements in Organismal Biology

Supplemental funding will be available in FY 2012-2013 for existing IOS awards to support research visits, participation in training opportunities at other facilities, and the use of genome research facilities unavailable at the applicant's institution. Additionally, funds may also be requested for salary support of the applicant during the training period, if necessary.

Training Workshops

IOS seeks to fund "one or more hands-on workshops that provide one to three-week residential training experiences in wet lab and/or bioinformatics approaches to organismal research.”

Research Experiences for Teachers and Research Assistantships for High School Students

Supplemental funding is available for Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) and Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS) research opportunities. IOS "encourages proposers to consider their inclusion in preliminary proposals and invited full proposals submitted to the FY 2013 IOS Core Program Solicitation.”

Sources and Additional Information:

For complete details and contact information, NSF's Dear Colleague letter is available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12093/nsf12093.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Tags:  NSF 

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