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Science Policy Report

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14 March 2012

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Upcoming G8 Summit can make new progress in advancing global food security
~ Ensuring the Success of Feed the Future: Recommendations on Gender Integration
~ China drafts regulations on agricultural genetically modified organisms

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Organic Transitions Program
~ Citizen Science - Community Involvement Today and in the Future
~ 1890 Facilities Grant Program
~ Ohio Conservation Innovation Grants
~ PA 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Building Capacity to Implement EPA Voluntary Guidelines for K-12 State
~ Oregon Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Utah Conservation Innovation Grants
~ North Dakota Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
~ Kansas Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers
~ GSA and ExxonMobil field opportunities for students.
~ Graduate Student Grant Proposals
~ Antarctic Research

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ EPA Regulation of Nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) in Florida Waterways
~ Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass
~ Coordinating U.S. research aimed at climate change
~ Monsanto to test drought-tolerant corn

Congressional/Administration News

~ CBO puts FY 2012 budget deficit at $1.2 trillion
~ Reauthorization of Highway Bill
~ Federal government involved in renewable energy programs galore

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Upcoming G8 Summit can make new progress in advancing global food security

A Chicago Council white paper recommends action on agricultural development investment, research, innovation, and trade to alleviate global poverty. On 7 Mar, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a white paper calling on the U.S. government to make global agricultural development and food security a priority agenda item at the G8 Summit, May 18-19. The white paper, developed by a bi-partisan working group of former government, international organization, business, and academic leaders, offers recommendations on how G8 governments can advance an international commitment to agricultural development in order to increase global food production and alleviate poverty.  The white paper urges G8 countries to sustain their financial commitments to food security and launch an international research initiative to develop new agricultural varieties resistant to weather extremes, water scarcity, disease, and related risks. It also recommends G8 members spur innovation and engage the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers, building capacity, strengthening intellectual property protections, and adopting and implementing policies to increase trade in commodities and food. Low agricultural productivity in the developing world, along with commodity price volatility, extreme weather, and conflict continue to exacerbate global food insecurity. Almost 925 million people suffer from chronic malnourishment. Agricultural production will need to more than double in the coming decades to overcome the challenge of global hunger, alleviate poverty through increasing the incomes of those living in rural areas, and meet growing demand for food. This project draws upon The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ previous work on agriculture, food, and development, including Bringing Agriculture to the Table: How Agriculture and Food Can Play a Role in the Prevention of Chronic Disease (2011); Leveraging Private Sector Investment in Developing Country Agrifood Systems (2011); and Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty (2009).


(TOP) ~ Ensuring the Success of Feed the Future: Recommendations on Gender Integration

In honor of International Women’s Day, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative released a new Issue Brief, entitled, Ensuring the Success of Feed the Future: Analysis and Recommendations on Gender Integration, authored by Ritu Sharma. Ms. Sharma is the Cofounder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide, the leading organization advocating in Washington, D.C., for the interests of the world’s poorest women and girls. She is also a member of the Initiative’s Advisory Group. This is the fourth in a series of Issue Briefs commissioned by the Global Agricultural Development Initiative.


(TOP) ~ China drafts regulations on agricultural genetically modified organisms

 The draft law-Regulations on Administration of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms Safety of the People's Republic of China-issued by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council requires that research, selling, importing and exporting of transgenic grain seeds comply with state regulations. Any institution or individual must not apply transgenic technologies to principle grain cultivars without approval. Read full report.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Organic Transitions Program

The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In FY 2012, ORG will focus on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation. Practices and systems to be addressed include those associated with organic crops, organic animal production (including dairy), and organic systems integrating plant and animal production. Deadline 25 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Citizen Science - Community Involvement Today and in the Future

Citizen science is a form of research that enlists the public in collecting large quantities of data across an array of environments and communities over varying spans of time. Citizen science projects have been remarkably successful and contributions from citizen scientists are considered a developing tool for expanding science knowledge and scientific literacy. In this request for applications, EPA is soliciting proposals for research relating to air and water pollution in New York City and the Virgin Islands. Deadline 20 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ 1890 Facilities Grant Program

The 1890 Facilities Grant Program is intended for the acquisition and improvement of agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries, so that the 1890 land-grant institutions, including Tuskegee University and West Virginia State University may participate fully in the development of human capital in the food and agricultural sciences. Deadline 4 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Ohio Conservation Innovation Grants

To stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in Ohio that will lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems and innovative approaches to on-the-ground conservation and field demonstrations into policy and practice. Research projects do not qualify for CIG funds. Deadline 2 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ PA 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants

NRCS requests proposals from eligible government, non-governmental organizations, or individuals which seek competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between one and three years in duration. CIG does not fund research projects, rather, CIG funds proposals that stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. To be eligible, projects must involve landowners who meet the EQIP eligibility requirements. Deadline 20 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Building Capacity to Implement EPA Voluntary Guidelines for K-12 State

EPA is soliciting applications from eligible entities for projects to create, implement, and evaluate models for establishing comprehensive state, tribal and territorial school environmental health programs consistent with the draft K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines released for public comment by EPA in February, 2012, and posted at www.epa.gov/schools. (Financial support for tribes to implement the guidelines will be made available through a separate funding mechanism). Applications may be submitted by States, tribes or territories that have already implemented schools environmental health programs, as well as States, tribes and territories that have not yet implemented such programs but can demonstrate a commitment to doing so. Deadline 10 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Oregon Conservation Innovation Grants

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural and forestry production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. CIG does not fund research projects. It is a vehicle to stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success, and to be candidates for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the- ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Deadline 4 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Utah Conservation Innovation Grants

Utah division of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is accepting applications for projects in Utah qualifying for funding under the Conservation Innovation Grant Program (CIG). NRCS anticipates that the total amount available for support of this program in FY 2012 will be approximately $300,000.00. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration. The purpose of the CIG program is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. Deadline 10 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ North Dakota Conservation Innovation Grants

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. CIG does not fund research projects. It is a vehicle to stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success, and to be candidates for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Deadline 9 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

This program supports research and extension projects that have robust collaborations to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields that are relevant to USDA priorities identified by the Secretary: (i) Promotion of a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply for all Americans and for people around the world; (ii) Sustainable agricultural policies that foster economic viability for small and mid-sized farms and rural businesses, protect natural resources, and promote value-added agriculture; (iii) national leadership in climate change mitigation and adaptation; (iv) Building a modern workplace with a modern workforce; and (v) Support for 21st century rural communities. Deadline 12 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Kansas Conservation Innovation Grants

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. CIG does not fund research projects. Projects intended to formulate hypothesis do not qualify. CIG is to apply proven technology which has been shown to work previously. It is a vehicle to stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success, and to be candidates for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG promotes sharing of skills, knowledge, technologies, and facilities among communities, governments, and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to a wider range of users. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Deadline 27 Apr. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers

The overarching goals of the Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers (IPM Centers) program are to improve the cost benefit analyses of adopting IPM practices and to reduce the environmental and human health risks associated with managing pests. The IPM Centers will promote the development and implementation of IPM by facilitating collaboration across states, disciplines, and purposes. They will serve as focal points for regional pest management information networks, collaborative team building, and broad-based stakeholder participation. The end result will be increased coordination of IPM research, education and extension efforts and enhanced responsiveness to critical, priority pest management and global food security challenges. Deadline 14 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ GSA and ExxonMobil field opportunities for students.

Bighorn Basin Field Award – An all-expenses-paid Field Seminar in the Bighorn Basin of north-central Wyoming emphasizing multi-disciplinary integrated basin analysis for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. Read full announcement here. Who can apply? Undergraduate and Graduate GSA student members. Deadline 2 Apr. 2. Field Camp Scholar Award – This award is for undergraduate students to attend summer field camp. Seventeen students will be awarded $2,000 each to attend the field camp of their choice based on diversity, economic/financial need, and merit. Read full announcement here. Who can apply? Undergraduate GSA student members only. Deadline 12 Mar. Contact Jennifer Nocerino, jnocerino@geosociety.org, 303-357-1036.


(TOP) ~ Graduate Student Grant Proposals

Are you a Master's or PhD student in the Southern region with a great idea for a sustainable agriculture research project? Apply for a grant! We have released the Call for Proposal for Graduate Student Grants for FY2012. Graduate Student Grants are one of the few sustainable agriculture research funding opportunities open to Master’s and PhD students at accredited institutions in the Southern region. Deadline 4 Jun. Download the Call for Proposal on the Southern SARE website and carefully read the application instructions. All of the guidelines, program goals, review criteria, and the submission process to apply for a Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant will be found within the Call for Proposal. Research projects that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Southern region are eligible for submission. Maximum funds awarded for projects are $11,000 for up to three years work on the student’s project. Visit the Southern SARE website for more information on sustainable agriculture. 


(TOP) ~ Antarctic Research

Scientific research and operational support of that research are the principal activities supported by the United States Government in Antarctica. The goals are to expand fundamental knowledge of the region, to foster research on global and regional problems of current scientific importance, and to use Antarctica as a platform from which to support research. The U.S. Antarctic Program provides support for fieldwork only when a compelling justification exists for doing the work in Antarctica (i.e., the work can only be done or is best done, in Antarctica). The program also supports Antarctic-related analytical research performed at home organizations. Deadline 31 May. Read full announcement here

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ EPA Regulation of Nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) in Florida Waterways

A National Academies report found that the costs to switch to numeric criteria for limiting nutrient pollutants in Florida waters are expected to exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. The report questioned the validity of several assumptions in the EPA cost analysis and found that EPA did not adequately report on the uncertainties that could affect the cost of the rule change. These numeric criteria would replace existing state 'narrative' criteria, which use words to describe water pollution limits. The committee concluded that EPA was correct in its approach to calculating the cost of the rule change. However, the agency underestimated both the number of newly impaired waters and the mitigation costs for the stormwater, agricultural, septic system, and government sectors. Furthermore, there was significant uncertainty in the estimates for the municipal and industrial wastewater sectors. The committee also found that the costs of the rule change would be small relative to the total costs that will ultimately be required to restore Florida's waters. Read full report here


(TOP) ~ Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass

USDA has released its "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass" (KYF Compass) which is an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies. The KYF Compass is a digital guide to USDA resources related to local and regional food systems. The Compass consists of an interactive U.S. map showing local and regional food projects and an accompanying narrative documenting the results of this work through case studies, photos and video content. The KYF Compass organizes USDA's work on local and regional food systems into seven thematic areas. Among the themes covered on the map and in the narrative portion of the Compass are: Local Food Infrastructure, Farm to Institution, Careers in Agriculture. Stewardship and Local Foods, Local Meat and Poultry, Healthy Food Access, and Local Food Knowledge. Read about KYF Compass here.


(TOP) ~ Coordinating U.S. research aimed at climate change

The National Research Council of the National Academies has released a report which finds that the draft 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)  which shapes and coordinates climate and related global environmental change research efforts of numerous agencies and departments across the federal government, does not always acknowledge significant challenges, such as increasingly constrained budget resources, involved in meeting its goals, nor does it offer clear strategies for how such challenges could be addressed. The report suggests that the USGCRP plan could be strengthened by offering a more coherent summary of past important accomplishments, including an assessment of successes that were possible only because of USGCRP actions; establishing clear processes for setting priorities and phasing in and out elements of the program; employing iterative processes for periodically evaluating and updating the program and its priorities; and more carefully defining the education, communication, and work-force development efforts that belong within the program and which efforts would be best organized by entities outside the program. See key findings of report here and Read full report here.


(TOP) ~ Monsanto to test drought-tolerant corn

Monsanto Co. will conduct large-scale tests this year on the first government-approved biotech crop developed to deal with drought. The trial runs will take place on farms around the country, including some in South Dakota and Texas, to see how well the biotech crop works before Monsanto releases the corn commercially next year. The corn is developed with a gene taken from a bacterium commonly found in soil and vegetation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided against regulating it late last year, saying that the corn is safe. It is not likely to harm the environment, people or animals and would not boost production at the cost of grasslands and forest, said Michael Gregoire of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. But the corn won't solve all of the problems for drought-stricken farmers, the company said. Still, it comes as much of the United States remains dry, and areas in the South and Southwest face severe drought. When combined with improved agricultural practices, it could help areas like the western Great Plains. "We're not in very wet country here," Kansas farmer Harvey Heier said. "It would be a big plus ... if it works."

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ CBO puts FY 2012 budget deficit at $1.2 trillion

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated budget baseline, providing the necessary starting point for House budget writers, who plan on drafting the fiscal 2013 budget resolution before next week’s markup. The CBO estimates a total budget deficit of $1.2 trillion, which is $93 billion larger than its deficit projections in January.  However, the updated baseline projects that the cumulative deficit over the decade from 2013 to 2022 will be $186 billion smaller than it projected two months ago. This fiscal year’s boost in projected budget deficit can be attributed to Congress’ decision last month to extend the payroll tax break through the end of the year. Overall, however, the budget picture is unchanged, and CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf, in a Tuesday blog post, emphasized the critical nature of the fiscal policy decisions facing lawmakers over the next year. Congress appears to be in no hurry though as the House Budget Committee prepares to put forward and debate its budget resolution next week, the focus of at least one chamber will shift back to the fiscal issues that dominated congressional debate in 2011. Even though the CBO’s baseline estimates are based on a set of assumptions with a low likelihood of coming true, including the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts under current law, the updated budget figures released Tuesday provide an important yardstick for budget writers as they debate various spending and revenue proposals in the coming weeks.


(TOP) ~ Reauthorization of Highway Bill

Today, the US Senate is predicted to pass the $109 billion highway reauthorization, the two-year surface transportation bill, after a series of votes on energy tax credits and alternative offsets. Even though the CBO released a cost estimate last week which found that the measure is fully paid for over 10 years, the offsets for the bill (S 1813) are still a matter of disagreement in the otherwise bipartisan measure. In the upper chamber, Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) located billions of dollars in offsets for the measure, but the financing package still falls short and Republicans say the bill is full of budget gimmicks. Still up for a vote prior to passage of the bill is an amendment from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) that would require an across-the-board spending reduction for transportation programs if there is a shortfall between the funding level authorized and the revenue collected by the Highway Trust Fund in a given year.  In addition, Corker also introduced a proposal which would have reduced the non-defense discretionary cap for fiscal 2013 set in the 2011 debt limit agreement (PL 112-25) to offset spending under the bill that is not covered by revenue from the Trust Fund.  This measure failed on a 40-58 vote.


(TOP) ~ Federal government involved in renewable energy programs galore

A recently released Government Accountability Office report concluded that Federal agencies launched almost 700 initiatives focused on renewable energy in fiscal 2010, targeting many of their investments on bioenergy, solar and wind. Read full report here. The report complements an early GAO study that analyzed duplicate programs across the federal government, though analysts do not weigh in on whether any of the 679 renewable energy initiatives are wasteful or redundant.  The release of the report coincides with lawmakers debate over the merits of energy investments and how best to cut agency budgets. The report was requested by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Congress had been concerned with the scarcity of information on renewable energy programs, wanting to have the ability to identify whether efforts are fragmented, duplicative, or operating at cross-purposes. In the 174-page report, GAO includes a detailed inventory that lays out the initiatives at 23 agencies and their 130 subagencies. Undoubtedly, the report will become a favorite of lawmakers looking to cut renewable energy investments. Within the report is a finding that about 90 percent of the initiatives supported private-sector recipients, with little less than half also supporting those in the public sector. GAO analysts did not estimate the cost of the initiatives and emphasized that the number of programs at each agency did not necessarily reflect their cost. 

Sources: AIARD; ClimateWire; Congressional Quarterly; E&E Publishing; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; GreenWire

Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.

This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.