Science Policy Report

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01 August 2012

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Increased productivity needed to improve food security
~ OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021
~ Strategies for African agriculture
~ Women gain at Rio+20

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Expert IPM Decision Support System
~ Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program
~ Kenya Arid Lands Disaster Risk Reduction-WASH Program
~ Innovation Corps - Regional Node Program
~ Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research: Workshop Opportunities

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ SOAR for Science
~ Economic impacts of the Budget Control Act of 2011
~ Global CO2 emissions continue to increase in 2011
~ State research and development expenditures total $1.2 billion in FY 2009
~ Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans
~ USDA seeks nominations for National Organic Advisory Board
~ Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture

Congressional/Administration News

~ Societies co-sponsor congressional briefing on anniversary of Landsat satellites
~ Vilsack urges House to ‘step up’ and get farm bill on floor
~ CR likely, but debate rages over its duration
~ Senators hope to quickly settle terms of FY 2013 stopgap
~ Boehner says House leaders may act soon on drought aid

International Corner

(TOP) ~ Increased productivity needed to improve food security

The OECD-FAO July report also emphasizes that developing countries should promote agricultural infrastructure investment in rural areas to improve storage, transportation and irrigation systems, as well as electrification, information and communication systems. Read full article

(TOP) ~ OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021

Agricultural production needs to increase by 60% over the next 40 years to meet rising demand for food as well as to provide feedstock for expanding biofuel production. The Outlook anticipates that agricultural output growth will slow to an average of 1.7% annually over the next 10 years, down from a trend rate of over 2% annually in recent decades. Much of the projected growth will come from developing countries. Increasing agricultural productivity will be central to containing food prices in a context of rising resource constraints and will be a key factor in reducing global food insecurity. At the same time, there is a growing need to improve the sustainable use of available land, water, marine ecosystems, fish stocks, forests, and biodiversity. Encouraging better agronomic practices, creating the right commercial, technical and regulatory environment, and strengthening agricultural innovation systems are essential policy challenges identified in this report. See full report

(TOP) ~ Strategies for African agriculture

The new book Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture, Economy-wide Perspectives from Country Studies builds on and adds to knowledge about why Africa has enjoyed ongoing economic stability, sustained economic growth, and improved governance since 2000. With the introduction of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) process in 2003 and African countries’ emphasis in agricultural growth and investment, this book is a timely analysis that explores results-driven policy objectives. Read full article

(TOP) ~ Women gain at Rio+20

The global development agenda is undergoing drastic changes, so how can we ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed in these processes? Rio+20 reaffirmed the goals of building an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable world. The representatives of more than 100 governments made over 690 voluntary commitments, including five specifically on gender equality. But critical questions remain: Did Rio+20 adequately represent all global citizens? Will Rio+20 advance women’s rights worldwide? Read full article

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

(TOP) ~ Expert IPM Decision Support System

The purpose of the EIPMDSS program is to support development of expert systems that help guide, demonstrate and multiply impacts of USDA supported IPM programs. The goals of these IPM programs are: 1) Improve cost benefit analyses when adopting IPM practices, 2) Reduce potential human health risks from pests and related management strategies, and 3) Minimize adverse environmental effects from pests and related management strategies. The EIPMDSS created and maintained by the successful applicant will help these programs maintain and communicate IPM research, education, and extension priorities; allow a diverse group of stakeholders to obtain access to selected program outputs; compile LOGIC model based program reports; and synthesize program impacts. Deadline 20 Aug. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program

The Legacy Program FY 2013 call for pre-proposals seeks proposals under the Areas of Emphasis from all eligible applicants for efforts that support military mission needs and improve the management of natural and cultural resources. Response to this call for proposals is a two-phase process. All applicants are required initially to submit a pre-proposal. Upon completion of the initial review, each applicant will be notified either of rejection or encouraged to submit a full proposal. Follow instructions found in the Legacy Guidebook as it contains detailed instructions on the proposal process. The top objective of DoD’s Natural and Cultural Resources Programs and of the DoD Legacy Program is to support the military mission while promoting long-term stewardship of its natural and/or cultural heritage. Deadline 30 Aug. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Kenya Arid Lands Disaster Risk Reduction-WASH Program

The core objective of the program is to assist the Kenyan government and communities through cooperative agreements of a consortium, or consortiums, of NGOs that are not for profit and/or Public International Organizations (PIOs) to increase resilience to drought and flash floods while simultaneously increasing access to improved water supply and sanitation services, and improving hygiene behaviors, for poor and vulnerable populations in the arid counties of Turkana, Marsabit (including Moyale District), Garissa, Isiolo, and Wajir in Kenya. Deadline 31 Aug. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Innovation Corps - Regional Node Program

The National Science Foundation seeks to develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem that builds upon fundamental research to guide the output of scientific discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society. NSF plans to build upon the I-Corps program and establish a National Innovation Network comprised of I-Corps Regional Nodes that will support the needs for innovation research and education. I-Corps Regional Nodes will foster understanding on how to: 1) identify, develop and support promising ideas that can generate value, 2) create and implement tools and resources that enhance our nation's innovation capacity, 3) gather, analyze, evaluate and utilize the data and insight resulting from the experiences of those participating in the I-Corps program and 4) share and leverage effective innovation practices on a national scale - to improve the quality of life for the U.S. citizenry. Deadline 19 Oct. Read full announcement here

(TOP) ~ Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research: Workshop Opportunities

EPSCoR is designed to fulfill the mandate of the National Science Foundation to promote scientific progress nationwide. The EPSCoR program is directed at those jurisdictions that have historically received lesser amounts of NSF Research and Development funding. Through this program, NSF establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industry that are designed to effect sustainable improvements in a jurisdiction's research infrastructure, R&D capacity, and hence, its national R&D competitiveness. The EPSCoR Office welcomes unsolicited proposals from EPSCoR jurisdictions for workshops involving the EPSCoR community. These workshops will focus on innovative ways to address multi-jurisdictional efforts on themes of regional to national importance with relevance to EPSCoR's goals/objectives and NSF's mission. Deadline 16 Sep 2016. Read full announcement here

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

(TOP) ~ SOAR for Science

Supporters of Agricultural Research (SOAR) is a new non-partisan science-based coalition seeking sound research policies that focus more of our best minds on feeding America and the world. SOAR is working with major research institutions, farmer groups, scientific organizations, and private sector partners who believe a strong competitive grants program will encourage top scientists from multiple disciplines—from botany and biology to energy and engineering—to address the many agriculture-related challenges facing our country today. Get more information

(TOP) ~ Economic impacts of the Budget Control Act of 2011

A report commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association predicts “widespread American job losses,” to the tune of 2.14 million across the defense and nondefense discretionary communities. For NDD specifically, the job losses will be more than 1 million if the Budget Control Act’s sequestration mandate takes effect on January 2, 2013. Dr. Stephen S. Fuller, Dwight Schar Faculty Chair and University Professor and Director for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, in conjunction with Chmura Economics and Analytics, conducted the study on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association. See full report

(TOP) ~ Global CO2 emissions continue to increase in 2011

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 3% last year, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tons in 2011, according to the annual report, titled 'Trends in Global CO2 Emissions', released by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). Average emissions of CO2 in China increased by 9% to 7.2 tons per capita. China is now within the range of 6 to 19 tons per capita emissions of the major industrialized countries. In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tons per capita. The United States remains one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tons per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices, and an increased share of natural gas. See JRC news release and the “Trends in global CO2 emissions” report

(TOP) ~ State research and development expenditures total $1.2 billion in FY 2009

State agency R&D expenditures in FY 2009 represent an increase of 7% over the FY 2007 total of $1.1 billion. Expenditures on R&D facilities (construction projects, major building renovations, land and building acquisitions intended primarily for R&D use) totaled $103 million, a 2% increase over the $101 million reported in FY 2007. This InfoBrief presents summary statistics from the FY 2009 Survey of State Government R&D Expenditures, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The FY 2009 survey is the most recent NSF survey of R&D activities performed and funded by state government agencies in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For the first time, NSF is publishing survey data by individual state agency. Previously only state totals were published. This survey also marked the first time NSF asked state agencies to classify their R&D according to the following five types: agriculture, environment and natural resources, health, transportation, and other. Read full survey

(TOP) ~ Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans

Soybean varieties that thrive even in soggy fields could result from studies by USDA scientists. This would help increase profits for Mississippi Delta farmers who can see yield losses as high as 25 percent when they plant soybean crops in rotation with paddy rice. This work is being conducted by former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Tara VanToai, who now works as a collaborator at ARS' Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus, Ohio. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring international food security. Read full article

(TOP) ~ USDA seeks nominations for National Organic Advisory Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations to fill a vacancy beginning January 2013 for a resource conservationist on the National Organic Standards Board. USDA’s National Organic Program is accepting nominations for a resource conservationist/environmentalist who demonstrates expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation. Nominations are being accepted up to July 30. Get more information

(TOP) ~ Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture

This event provides an annual forum for an outstanding speaker to address current environmental issues. The lectureship is endowed by the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton to honor Mr. Barnard, who had been counsel to the firm, for his contributions to environmental and public health law and in recognition of his years of service as a member of the selection committee for the fellowships at the U.S. EPA. For the 2012-13 lecture, nominations are being sought for an outstanding and engaging speaker to address issues of domestic or international environmental science and policy. There is particular interest in speakers that present diversity from a variety of perspectives including gender, discipline, area of environmental focus, sector, ethnicity and geographic representation. The lecture is free and open to the public. To nominate someone, please fill out this form by 5:00 pm on Friday, August 31. Get more information

Congressional/Administration News

(TOP) ~ Societies co-sponsor congressional briefing on anniversary of Landsat satellites

The Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies took part in a Congressional briefing on July 23, 2012 that highlighted fire, food, and water tracking in relation to the use of Landsat satellite data. The briefing was held on the 40th anniversary date of the first Landsat launch and was hosted by Representatives Bruce Braley (D IA-1) and Tom Latham (R IA-4). A panel of experts, including American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America member Philip Rasmussen, discussed how Landsat helps track wildfires, assess agricultural changes, and mitigate water management issues. See press release

(TOP) ~ Vilsack urges House to ‘step up’ and get farm bill on floor

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, citing the toll on crops and livestock taken by an ongoing drought, has continued to press for floor action on the House farm bill before the August recess or shortly after Congress returns in September. However, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has made no commitment to bring the bill to the floor before or after the August recess. The legislation (HR 6083) would, among other things, renew disaster aid that expired last year. Vilsack has said that without the renewal of those programs, he has limited options in responding to the worst U.S. drought since 1956. The House farm bill and the Senate-passed version (S 3240) would renew aid programs for livestock producers as well as for tree, fruit and nursery plant growers in FY 2012-2017. Vilsack’s call for action has announced steps his department is taking to help ranchers in drought-stricken states feed their herds, including easing restrictions on land use in major conservation programs to give livestock access to more hay and grazing lands, expanding the number of acres under the Conservation Reserve Program that can be used for emergency livestock feeding, and allowing producers to conduct short-term grazing and haying on easements enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program. Farmers and ranchers in drought areas also will be allowed to modify conservation practices on land enrolled in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Vilsack has also said he has requested that insurance companies participating in the federally subsidized crop insurance program not impose interest penalties on unpaid crop insurance premiums.

(TOP) ~ CR likely, but debate rages over its duration

Amid pressure to extend current government funding until next year, House Republican leaders said July 23 that no decision has been made on how to keep federal agencies running beyond Sept. 30. Given House-side resistance to the Senate's acceptance of the $1.047 trillion spending level agreed to in last year's debt-limit deal, a continuing resolution (CR) that takes the government into fiscal 2013 appears all but guaranteed. But when to end that CR, giving lawmakers until next year to agree on federal funding or tying appropriations to the George W. Bush-era tax cuts that expire Dec. 31, remains a volatile question for House Republicans. The Democratic-controlled Senate won the support of all but two Republicans on its appropriations panel for adopting the $1.047 trillion spending cap set by the August 2011 debt deal as a guide for next year's agency funding. Republican senators last week urged Boehner to call up a CR at that level that lasts "well into the new year" as a means to "take the threat of a government shutdown off the table" while lawmakers battle over how to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts during the post-election session. House GOP leaders have approved $19 billion in cuts below the debt deal's set threshold for FY 2013. Those slashes raised significant alarms among advocacy outlets that support U.S. EPA and the Energy and Interior Departments’ investments in natural resources and public health. The same activists are also ramping up their efforts to neutralize the so-called sequester, across-the-board cuts required by the debt deal that are set to take effect in January.

(TOP) ~ Senators hope to quickly settle terms of FY 2013 stopgap

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders are trying to avert a potentially divisive fight over the duration and size of a fiscal 2013 stopgap measure that is expected to extend federal funding beyond the end of the current fiscal year. Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (IL) said senior Democrats are working to expedite completion of a deal on the stopgap measure well before funding expires Sept. 30. There is no agreement yet on the duration or level, but several senior lawmakers from both parties said a CR was likely to last beyond Election Day and perhaps until the end of December to allow time for the two parties to work out a deal on looming issues over extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and possibly reducing automatic spending cuts set in motion by last summer’s debt limit law. Several senior Republicans said party leaders would likely be open to an early deal in order to avoid a standoff over extending funding into fiscal 2013, however a number of conservatives vowed to push for a CR that lasts through March 2013, with funding mirroring the lower levels contained in House GOP fiscal 2013 spending bills and in the House-passed budget resolution.

(TOP) ~ Boehner says House leaders may act soon on drought aid

In a shift by House Republican leaders, Speaker John A. Boehner said July 24 they are looking at quickly addressing the needs of drought-stricken farmers and ranchers. He stopped short of saying that it meant the farm bill would come to the floor though. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also had signaled openness to working on drought aid. In its weekly crop progress report, the Agriculture Department reported that 45% of the U.S. corn crop and 55% of the pasture and rangeland are in poor or very poor condition. Boehner said last week that crop insurance should be sufficient to cover farmers’ needs this year, but those policies do not cover losses to livestock producers, and a provision in the USDA’s fiscal 2012 appropriations bars the agency from providing aid through a program used in the past to compensate livestock operations for weather-related losses. Livestock producers are being hurt by the loss of grass for grazing as well as by higher prices for hay and grain for feed. The House farm bill, which the Agriculture Committee approved July 11, and the Senate-passed version include disaster assistance programs that would be retroactive to this year. But in case that legislation is stalled, separate bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House to revive the disaster aid programs that expired last year. Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said she would continue to pressure the House to bring the farm bill to the floor. “We need a farm bill,” she said, rejecting the idea of a stand-alone drought aid measure.

Sources: AAAS; Aerospace Industries Association; Agricultural Research Service; AIARD; Congressional Quarterly; Environment and Energy Daily; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; IFPRI; NSF

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.