March 25, 2019

March D.C. Update

Washington Roundup – March 2019

By: Lowell Randel

President’s FY 2020 Budget Request Released

On March 11th, President Trump released his fiscal year 2020 budget request. While the budget reflects an overall decrease in USDA funded research, the request includes some proposed increases for several key research programs including the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), infrastructure investments and within the Agricultural Research Service.

The Administration requests $500 million for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), an $85 million increase over the FY 2019 enacted level. The Budget proposes investments in the aging agricultural research infrastructure with $50 million for a new competitive grant program that modernizes agricultural research facilities at land grant universities (LGUs), as well as $50 million for modernizing Agricultural Research Service(ARS) facilities. 

A summary of key provisions is included below:

ACCOUNTFY 2018FY 2019 – FINALBudget Request

ARS Salaries and Expenses$1.2 billion$1.3 billion$1.2 billion

ARS Buildings and Facilities$140.6 million$381 million$50 million

Hatch$243 million $259 million$243 million

AFRI$400 million$415 million$500 million

Sec. 1433$4 million$4 million$0 

Smith Lever$300 million$315 million$299 million

Within the overall ARS budget, $91 million is requested for livestock production (down $3 million) and $101 million for livestock protection (up $6 million).  The ARS budget alsoincludes $92.8 million to take ownership of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). Of the $92.8 million, there is an increase of $33 million for operations and maintenance and other transition costs. To expand ARS research on foreign animal diseases, the Budget includes an increase of $5 million. The Budget also provides $3 million to enable USDA to develop countermeasures for high consequence zoonotic livestock diseases.

The budget request for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture includes a request of $9.5 million to move the agency out of the National Capital Area. In the budget, work of the Economic Research Service is cut by 30%. Of the remaining budget, $15 million is being requested to move the intramural economic research agency out of the National Capital Region. In the budget, the Economic Research Service is listed underneath the Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area, which does not reflect the move of ERS to the Office of the Chief Economist.


ASAS Participates in USDA Farm Bill Listening Sessions

On March 21st, USDA’s Research, Education and Economics Mission Area held a listening session to gather stakeholder input on the Research Title of the 2018 Farm Bill.  ASAS Washington Representative, Lowell Randel, provided comments at the session.  Randel addressed Farm Bill provisions that have the potential to advance animal science.  Highlighted programs include:

• Continuing Animal Health and Disease Research Programs (Sec. 1433) – The animal science community worked hard to incorporate a competitive grants funding mechanism in the previous Farm Bill and this authority was renewed in the 2018 Farm Bill.  It is important to increase funding for the program to enable competitive grants to support research on food security, one health and stewardship.  
• Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative – This is a new initiative established in the 2018 Farm Bill that will support science in genomics and phenomics for agriculturally important animal and plant species.  It is critical that the new program be well-balanced between animals and plants. 
• Dual Use/Dual Benefit Program – The Farm Bill includes report language encouraging USDA and the National Institutes of Health to continue supporting this joint program.  The latest round of applications has been completed and there is concern that the agencies may choose not to issue a specific RFP for this program in the future.  


ASAS and ASN Hold Briefing on Open Access

On February 25th, the American Society of Animal Science and the American Society of Nutrition held a joint Congressional briefing on policies related to open access.  The briefing addressed the implications of implementing “Plan S”, an initiative starting in 2020 that requires that scientific publications resulting from research funded by European funding agencies public grants must be published in Plan S-compliant open access journals or platforms. Teresa Davis and Jim Sartin led the briefing and discussed how scientific societies and their scholarly publications would be impacted if Plan S or a similar open access policy were initiated in the U.S. Over 30 people participated in the Congressional briefing.  The ASAS/ASN delegation also met with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to discuss Plan S and scientific publishing policy.