April 29, 2019

April D.C. Update

Washington Roundup – April 2019

By: Lowell Randal

ASAS to Hold Briefing on “What is Meat”

ASAS will hold a Snack and Fact Briefing at the House Agriculture Committee on at 12pm on May 6th, 2019.  The briefing will focus on issues surrounding the question of “What is Meat?”, as covered in Animal Frontiers.  Speakers will include Russell Cross from Texas A&M University and Dale Woerner from Texas Tech University.

NIFA and ERS Employees Consider Unionization

Employees of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) are currently exploring unionization.  The move comes in response to USDA’s plans to move the majority of NIFA and ERS employees outside the National Capital Region.  Some agency employees believe that forming a union will strengthen their ability to address the proposed move and its potential impacts.  ERS is scheduled to vote on May 9th and NIFA is expected to vote before the end of May.  At the same time, Secretary Purdue has indicated that an announcement of the site selection for the new location of the agencies will be made in mid-May.  During his appropriations hearing Purdue faced several questions about the move and indicated that a cost/benefit analysis will be presented along with the site announcement. 

Perdue Announces “OneNeighborhood” Initiative

Secretary Perdue recently announced USDA’s plans to review and reorganize agency workspaces in the National Capital Region.  The effort is called “OneNeighborhood” and is intended to improve collaboration, productivity and utilization of office space in the Washington, DC area. Perdue cited the current configuration of Foreign Agriculture Service employees being scattered across multiple floors around the USDA South Building as an example of an agency where reconfiguration would be beneficial.

The President’s Budget requests $266 million for the initiative to increase the occupancy capacity through life and health safety upgrades; space reconfigurations; and the replacement of outdated building systems. USDA estimates that the initiative will result in approximately $40 million in annual savings on lease costs. USDA will be surveying employees about their workspace and the initiative in the coming weeks.

NIFA Announces Hall of Fame Inductees

On April 25th, NIFA announced the induction of three individuals into NIFA’s Hall of Fame.  The Hall of Fame was created in 2011 to recognize individuals whose exceptional contributions to NIFA’s mission at the local, regional, national, or international level have made a positive impact on the lives of citizens.

The following scientists were inducted:

Dr. Gina Eubanks - Associate Vice Chancellor and Program Leader for Nutrition and Food Sciences at the Louisiana State University. Eubanks also served as the Vice Chancellor for Extension at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Eubanks participated in 4-H during high school and attended Southern University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textile science. She then attended Oklahoma State University and earned a master's degree in clothing and textiles and a Ph.D. in home economics.

Dr. Charles Hibberd - Dean and Director of the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Division. Prior to that, he was the Director of Extension and Associate Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University. Previously, he was the Director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Hibberd also served as the Chair of the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Hibberd received his bachelor's degree in agriculture, with an animal science major, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University in animal science and animal nutrition, respectively.

Dr. Ian Maw - former Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. He also served as the Executive Director of the Academic Committee on Organization and Policy, the Academic Programs Section of the Board on Agriculture Assembly, and the Director of Academic Programs. He retired from Rutgers University after a 34-year career as a faculty member at Cook College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social science and earned a master’s and doctorate degrees from Pennsylvania State University.


Ned Sharpless Named Acting Commissioner of FDA

Dr. Ned Sharpless has assumed the responsibilities of Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs.  Immediately prior, Sharpless served as the director of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Sharpless has also served as the director of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Sharpless replaces Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down on as FDA Commissioner on April 5th.  More information on Dr. Sharpless can be found here.