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Senate Makes Progress on FY 2020 Appropriations for NSF, Census, NIH, Education, USDA

With the passage of a continuing resolution through Thanksgiving giving Congress some breathing room to complete fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee has finally made progress in approving a number of its annual appropriations bills. COSSA has released analyses of three Senate bills that fund agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences:

Full coverage of FY 2020 appropriations, including analyses of the corresponding House proposals, is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

FY 2020 Agriculture Bill Advances in House

The House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on June 4. This bill contains funding for the two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), as well as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which funds competitive research projects. The bill was marked up in subcommittee on May 23.

At a Glance…

  • The bill contains language prohibiting the move of ERS and NIFA outside of the National Capital Region. The House Agriculture Committee is also investigating this issue and held a hearing on June 5 on “Examining the Impacts of Relocating USDA Research Agencies on Agriculture Research.”
  • The House bill would provide ERS with $87.8 million, a 1.2 percent increase from FY 2019 and a rejection of the steep cuts proposed by the Administration.
  • The bill would provide NASS with $180.8 million, an increase of $6.3 million and $17.8 million above the Administration’s request.
  • The House mark would provide NIFA with a total of $1.6 million in discretionary funds, a $142.8 million increase for the agency compared to FY 2019 and $222.4 million above the Administration’s request.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the House Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 11), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

House and Senate Committees Approve FY 2019 Agriculture Funding

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their fiscal year (FY) 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bills. This bill contains funding for the two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), as well as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which funds competitive research projects. The House bill (H.R. 5961) was approved by the subcommittee on May 9 and by the full committee on May 16. The Senate version of the bill, which does not yet have a bill number, was passed by the subcommittee on May 22 and by the full committee on May 24.

At a Glance…

  •  Both the House and Senate bills would maintain flat funding for ERS at $86.8 million, rejecting the nearly 50 percent cut proposed in the President’s request.
  • Both the House and Senate propose decreases for the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) as it ramps down from the 2017 Census of Agriculture; the House proposal of $173.7 million is $1.1 million below the Senate’s proposed $174.8 million. However, both levels are higher than the amount proposed in the President’s request.
  • The House bill would provide $1.45 billion for NIFA, which is 2.8 percent above FY 2018. The Senate bill includes $1.42 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent. Both chambers propose increases for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, with the House proposing a larger increase than the Senate.

The next step for both bills is consideration by their respective chambers. Both the House and Senate leadership have expressed a commitment to trying to pass at least some of the FY 2019 appropriations bills before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. However, with August recess and the peak of campaign season quickly approaching, it remains to be seen which bills will be passed and when.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ proposals for the Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 29), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NASS Advisory Committee Accepting Nominations

The Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics, which is the advisory body to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), is accepting nominations. The Committee advises the Secretary of Agriculture and NASS leadership on issues that may affect NASS’ agriculture surveys and products. Members represent a broad range of disciplines and stakeholder communities including “producers, representatives of national farm organizations, agricultural economists, rural sociologists, farm policy analysts, educators, State agriculture representatives, and agriculture-related business and marketing experts.” Nominations are due by November 30. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Acting Agricultural Statistics Board Chair Named

The National Agricultural Statistics Service has named Joseph L. Parsons acting chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Statistics Board. The Agricultural Statistics Board “prepares and issues USDA’s official national and state forecasts and estimates relating to crop production, stocks of agricultural commodities, livestock and livestock products, dairy and dairy products, poultry and poultry products, agricultural prices, economic information, agricultural wage rates, chemical usage, and other such subjects.” Parsons currently serves as Director of NASS’ Information Technology Division and Chief Information Officer.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 28), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2017 Agriculture Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill for the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (S. 2956) on May 19 (the bill had marked up in the Subcommittee earlier in the week). The House passed its version of the legislation (H.R. 5054) in April. So far, neither chamber has scheduled the Agriculture appropriations bill for floor consideration, although given that they are relatively uncontroversial, it would not be surprising to see votes on the floor before the summer recess.

The Senate bill would provide the Economic Research Service (ERS) with $86.8 million and the National Agricultural Statistics Service with $169.6 million. These numbers are both slight increases over FY 2016 and the House proposal, but below the Administration’s request. The bill includes $1.4 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The House, Senate, and Administration have all recommended a $25 million increase (+7.1%) for NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Read on for the Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposals for Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The Committee’s full report can be found here, and audio from the markup is posted on the Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 31), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NASS Launches New Local Foods Survey

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has begun data collection for its first-ever Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, which will produce official benchmark data on the U.S. local food sector. According to a NASS press release, the survey will produce information on “the value of food sales by marketing channel (i.e. farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements, restaurants, roadside stands, food hubs, and more), value of crop and livestock sales, marketing practices, expenses, Federal farm program participation, and more.” NASS expects to release the data in December 2016.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 19), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Passes Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations Committee has released its draft bill and Committee Report for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding for the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. The bill passed the Subcommittee by on April 13 and the full Commtitee on April 19. A list of amendments adopted during the full committee markup is available here (none affect the research and science agencies funded by the bill). Details on the bill’s proposed funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences follow.

Overall, the bill provides flat funding or very modest increases to USDA research and science agencies. The Economic Research Service (ERS), one of the Department of Agriculture’s two statistical agencies, would receive $86 million, or 0.7 percent above FY 2016 but 5.8 percent below the Administration’s request. The entirety of the $627,000 increase is directed for cooperative agreements on groundwater modeling and drought resilience. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would receive flat funding at $168.4 million, $8.2 million below the amount requested by the President. The Census of Agriculture, which NASS will conduct in 2017, would see a cut of $306,000.

The bill would provide the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) with a $14.7 million increase over FY 2017, bringing it to a total of $1.3 billion, though the amount is $32.9 million below the Administration’s requested level. Expectedly, appropriators chose to reject the President’s proposal to double funding for USDA’s premiere competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), using a combination of discretionary and mandatory funds. However, the bill would give AFRI a $25 million increase above FY 2016—bringing it to $375 million—which is level with the discretionary amount proposed in the budget request. Funding for research at State Agricultural Experiment Stations under the Hatch Act would remain flat.

The Committee report includes the following language related to AFRI-funded research on childhood obesity:

“Within the funds made available for AFRI, the Committee encourages NIFA to support innovative efforts to address the unique challenges faced in addressing childhood obesity through a combination of family education and clinical studies focused on early life influences on obesity risk; the development of eating behavior during infancy and early childhood; the role of sleep in the development of childhood obesity; and obesity prevention strategies for low-income children in childcare and educational settings.”

The report also instructs NIFA to develop a plan for ensuring AFRI research meets the needs of the U.S. organic agriculture sector and is not duplicative of other efforts; to support research, development, education, and training related to the deployment of unmanned aircraft systems (i.e. drones) for improved agriculture and environmental stewardship; and to ensure it is adequately addressing the research needs of urban agriculture producers.

house ag fy 2017

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 19), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Analysis of the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and Implications for Social and Behavioral Science Research

On December 15, House and Senate negotiators unveiled their final fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus appropriations bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029), which includes all 12 of the individual appropriations bills and totals $1.15 trillion.

Congress passed another short term continuing resolution (CR) on Wednesday to allow enough time for the House and Senate to pass the massive spending bill and for the President to sign it, which he has indicated he would. Policymakers now have until December 22 to achieve final passage. Assuming the House can pass the bill on Friday-which will require the support of several Democrats since many conservative Republicans oppose the final agreement-the FY 2016 process could wrap up by the end of the week, at which time Members of Congress and staff will head home for the holidays, drawing to a close the first session of the 114th Congress. However, at the time of this writing, passage is not assured.

Should the bill pass, the final result for social and behavioral science funding in FY 2016 is positive. Compared to where we were just a few months ago-with major cuts proposed for social science accounts at several agencies-we are closing out the year in a better situation than many anticipated. This outcome can be largely attributed to the bipartisan budget deal that was brokered earlier in the fall, which provided much needed relief from sequestration and the tight discretionary spending caps. In addition, our champions on the Hill worked tirelessly on our behalf during these final negotiations to stave off devastating cuts to many of our programs.

The text of the bill and explanatory statement can be viewed on the House Rules Committee website.

Read on for COSSA’s agency-by-agency analysis of the FY 2016 omnibus.

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Posted in Update, Volume 34 (2015)

USDA Starts Collecting Data on Post-Harvest Food Safety Practices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), under an agreement with the Economic Research Service (ERS), has begun collecting data on food safety practices from fruit and vegetable packers and processors. The survey, the 2015 Produce Post-Harvest Microbial Food Safety Practices Survey, marks the first time since 1998 that USDA has collected such data. Information from the survey will be used to understand how businesses are implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). In addition, ERS will use the data to document changes in food safety practices, examine costs associated with compliance with the FSMA, and identify areas for future research.

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Posted in Issue 18 (October 6), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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