Blog Archives

Senate Committee Seeks Answers from USDA on ERS/NIFA Plans

On September 7, the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue with a list of questions about the Department’s plans to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) out of the Washington, DC area and to realign ERS with the Office of the Chief Economist (see COSSA’s previous coverage). In the letter, Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) cite stakeholders’ concerns that the moves will lead to a “sharp loss of knowledgeable staff” and “erode critical partnerships with other federal agencies who are engaged in interdisciplinary research.” The letter asks for more detail from USDA on the motivation and rationale for the decision, the Department’s plans to execute the moves, and the legal authority underlying USDA’s ability to realign ERS. While no bipartisan action has been taken in the House, Democrats have expressed concerns about the proposal, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and the Democrats on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. A number of concerned stakeholder groups will hold a webinar with former USDA officials on Thursday, September 20.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 18), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

USDA Announces Plans to Move NIFA and ERS out of DC, Realign ERS with Chief Economist

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it plans to move two science agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) (one of USDA’s two principal statistical agencies) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (USDA’s main extramural research agency), out of the Washington, D.C. region. USDA cited high attrition rates at these agencies as justification for moving them out of the region, although no data was provided. The Department also plans to administratively realign ERS from its current place within the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area to the Office of the Chief Economist, citing their “similar missions,” although ERS is an official statistical agency bound by a set of directives and standards, while the Office of the Chief Economist primarily serves a policy-focused role. ERS’ longtime administrator, Mary Bohman, was reassigned ahead of this announcement.

The announcement has raised concerns for many in the science community. The move outside the D.C. area would almost certainly lead to a loss of highly specialized, expert staff at both agencies, and many are skeptical of the Department’s argument that retention is a problem for these agencies (both of which had been operating under a long-term hiring freeze). In addition, moving ERS from the research and data arm of USDA (which also includes ERS’s sister statistical agency, the National Agricultural Statistics Service) to a policy-focused area of the Department raises concerns about the agency’s ability to safeguard the independence of its data and findings.

USDA plans to proceed with these moves without Congressional or stakeholder approval. A Federal Register notice asking jurisdictions to volunteer to host one or both agencies (the deadline is September 14), but no other public feedback was requested. The Department expects the move to be completed by the end of 2019. COSSA has joined two letters (available here and here) asking Congress to intervene to stop USDA from moving ERS (a letter focused on NIFA is forthcoming).

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 4), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

White House to Appoint J. Scott Angle to Lead NIFA

On August 31, the White House announced that it intends to appoint Dr. J. Scott Angle to be Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Department of Agriculture’s main extramural research agency. Dr. Angle is a soil microbiologist who most recently was the President and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center and has held administrative positions at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. Angle would serve a six-year term, succeeding Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, whose term ended in May. As NIFA Director, Dr. Angle would be tasked with overseeing the agency’s move away from the National Capitol Region, which stakeholders are concerned could threaten the agency’s ability to operate effectively (see other article).

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 4), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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)

Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Developing New Clinical Decision Support to Disseminate and Implement Evidence-Based Research Findings (R18) (PA-17-261)
  • AHRQ: Scaling Established Clinical Decision Support to Facilitate the Dissemination and Implementation of Evidence-Based Research Findings (R18) (PA-17-260)
  • NIFA: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences Education and Literacy Initiative (USDA-NIFA-AFRI-006354)

NIH opportunities:

  • NIA: Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging (K76) (RFA-AG-18-006)
    NIA: Coordinating Center for Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (U24) (RFA-AG-18-008)
  • NICHD: Promoting NICHD Areas of Research for HIV/AIDS in Maternal and Child Health (R01) (PA-17-262)
  • NIMH: Initiation of a Mental Health Family Navigator Model to Promote Early Access, Engagement and Coordination of Needed Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents (R01) (PAR-17-265)
  • NIMH: Innovative Mental Health Services Research Not Involving Clinical Trials (R01) (PAR-17-264)
  • NIMH: Pilot Studies to Test the Initiation of a Mental Health Family Navigator to Promote Early Access, Engagement and Coordination of Needed Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents (R34) (PAR-17-266)

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIFA Releases Evaluation of Capacity Funding Mechanism

The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently released a report that measures the effectiveness of NIFA research, education, and extension investments at land-grant colleges and universities (“capacity grants”). The report, Quantitative and Qualitative Review of NIFA Capacity Funding, was prepared by TEConomy Partners, LLC. The report finds that the capacity funding model is able to produce a high return on investment and leverage matching state and local funding for projects. It concludes, “Capacity Funding carries substantial and significant ongoing advantages as an R&D and extension funding model.” The report is available in full on the NIFA website.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 4), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Health Information Technology (IT) to Improve Health Care Quality and Outcomes (R21) (PA-17-246)
  • AHRQ: Implementation and Evaluation of New Health Information Technology (IT) Strategies for Collecting and Using Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) Measures (U18) (PA-17-247)
  • AHRQ: AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) (PA-17-232)
  • AHRQ: Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems V (CAHPS V) (U18) (RFA-HS-17-010)
  • NIFA: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – Food Safety Challenge Area (USDA-NIFA-AFRI-006286)
  • NIFA: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area (USDA-NIFA-AFRI-006304)
  • NIFA: Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification Program (USDA-NIFA-SLBCD-006287)

NIH Opportunities:

  • NIH: Intensive Longitudinal Analysis of Health Behaviors: Leveraging New Technologies to Understand Health Behaviors (U01) (RFA-OD-17-004) [OBSSR, NCI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIMH], (U24) (RFA-OD-17-005) [OBSSR, NCI, NIAAA, NIBIB, NIDA, NIMH]
  • NIH/FDA: Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science for Research Relevant to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (U54) (RFA-OD-17-006) [NIH: NCI, NHLBI, NIDA, NIEHS, ODP; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products]
  • NIH: Advancing the Science of Geriatric Palliative Care (R01) (PA-17-225) [NIA, NCIH, NIMHD, NINR], (R21) (PA-17-226) [NIA, NIMHD, NINR]
  • NICHD: Resource-Related Research Projects in the Epidemiology and Prevention of Pediatric Injury (R24) (PAR-17-228)
  • NICHD: Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) Research (R21) (PAR-17-229), (R03) (PAR-17-230), (R01) (PAR-17-231)
  • NCI: Fostering Research Training and Education Programs for Native American Students at NCI-designated Cancer Centers (Admin Supp) (PA-17-241)
  • NCI: Core Infrastructure and Methodological Research for Cancer Epidemiology Cohorts (U01) (PAR-17-233)
  • NIH: Mechanisms and Consequences of Sleep Disparities in the U.S. (R01) (PAR-17-234) (R21)
    (PAR-17-235) [NIMHD, NCCIH, NCI, NHLBI, NIA, NIAAA, NINR, ORWH]
  • NIH: Centers for AIDS Research (P30) (PAR-17-237) [NIAID, FIC, NCI, NHLBI, NIA, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCR, NIDDK, NIGMS, NIMH, NIMHD]
  • NIH: Developmental Centers for AIDS Research (P30) (PAR-17-238) [NIAID, FIC, NCI, NHBLI, NIA, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCR, NIDDK, NIGMS, NIMH, NIMHD]

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 4), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIFA Introduces New Behavioral Science Grants Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a new grant program, Behavioral and Experimental Economic Applications for Agri-Environmental Policy Design, within the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities program. The new program is jointly funded with the USDA’s Economic Research Service. For its first round, the new program plans to offer two grants, totaling $500,000 to help “pinpoint motivators that drive farmers to adopt conservation practices and identify the roadblocks that may get in the way.”

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies to Launch Study on the Future of Food and Agriculture Research; Nominations Sought for Executive Committee

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced a new study, Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agriculture Research. The year-long study hopes to “identify ambitious scientific directions in food and agriculture made possible by incorporating knowledge and tools from across the science and engineering spectrum.” The study is sponsored by the Supporters of Agriculture Research (SoAR) Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Nominations are currently being sought for the study’s executive committee, which will author the project’s final consensus report, after seeking input from the broader community in the form of workshops, calls white papers, and online questionnaires. Candidates are being sought from all fields of science and engineering who are “big thinkers with the ability to envision the kind of breakthroughs made possible by interdisciplinary collaboration.” Nominations are due by March 22 and may be submitted here.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: Notice of Intent to Publish Funding Opportunity Announcements to Promote Implementation Science (R01) and Dissemination and Implementation Studies (R18) (NOT-HS-17-002)
  • AHRQ: Large Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R18) (PA-17-007)
  • AHRQ: Large Research Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R01) (PA-17-008)
  • NIFA: Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (USDA-NIFA-ICGP-006124)

(more…)

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

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