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Science Policy Report

Address all comments to the Science Policy Office at:
sciencepolicy@sciencesocieties.org

10 April 2013

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Group of emerging nations plans to form development bank
~ Food aid for the 21st century
~ Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests
~ Quality seeds key to food security
~ Genomic studies of wheat, shedding new light on crop adaptation and domestication
~ Researchers return from Antarctica bearing climate clues

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Conservation Innovation Grants FY 2013 Virginia
~ Texas Conservation Innovation Grant
~ State FY13 Conservation Innovation Grant
~ NRCS CO State Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) FY13
~ Cooperative Landscape Conservation and Adaptive Science
~ EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1
~ EAR Postdoctoral Fellowships
~ Regional Integrated Pest Management- North Central, Northeastern, Southern, Western
~ FY2013 New Mexico CIG Program
~ USDA Announces Grants to Develop Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs
~ New York- Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields
~ New Jersey FY13 Conservation Innovation Grant
~ Request for Information for El Salvador Investment Challenge
~ NSF Launches $10,000 BREAD Ideas Challenge
~ Environmental Health and Safety of Nanotechnology
~ Environmental Engineering
~ Environmental Sustainability
~ Energy for Sustainability

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ ASA, CSSA, SSSA seeking Senior Science Policy Manager in Washington, DC
~ Adaptation recommendations report
~ Federally funded R&D centers spend $17.8 billion on R&D in FY 2011
~ Obama admin unveils adaptation plan for natural resources
~ Scientists' and engineers' perspectives on their responsibilities survey
~ Federal advisory committee draft climate assessment report released for public review
~ Public food and agricultural research in the United States
~ Recently tree-planted lands store more soil carbon

Congressional/Administration News

~ Some fear farm bill will be casualty of budget war
~ Senate panel to mark up new farm bill
~ USGS advancing toward developing nationwide 'water budget' data
~ OMB: agencies must balance needs in carrying out sequester
~ Building support for the DOE office of science
~ New foundation will facilitate USDA and private sector research, development

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Group of emerging nations plans to form development bank

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, members of the BRICS group of developing nations, have agreed to create a bank that would focus on infrastructure and development in emerging markets. The bank would be a direct challenge to the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Abdullah Verachia, the director of the Frontier Advisory Group, which focuses on emerging markets, said, “Up until now, it [BRICS] has been a loose arrangement of five countries meeting once a year. It is going to be the first real institution we have seen.” Questions about the alliance’s ability to function effectively as a counterweight to the West have been raised, as the members are deeply divided on some basic issues and are, in many ways, rivals and not allies in the global economy. “Despite the political rhetoric around partnerships, there is a huge amount of competition between the countries,” Verachia said. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Food aid for the 21st century

food aidIn this opinion piece, Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, and Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, and both co-chairs of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, write that the U.S. has been a leader in providing hunger relief to people around the world since World War II. Over that time period, the U.S. has invested an average of $2 billion annually in food aid, saving millions of lives. Yet our laws have long required the bulk of our food aid to be purchased in the U.S. and then transported on U.S. ships to wherever it is needed. This practice is outdated and expensive, they write, and diminishes our flexibility to quickly respond to a crisis. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests

A researcher at Cornell University has developed a new tomato that can both deter pests and counter the killer viruses they transmit. Martha Mutschler-Chu, a professor of plant breeding and genetics, adapted a novel form of insect resistance discovered in a wild plant native to Peru to help battle thrips, which are insects that pierce and suck fluids from hundreds of species of plants, including tomatoes, grapes, strawberries and soybeans. They also transmit diseases, causing millions of dollars of damage to U.S. agricultural crops each year. Mutschler-Chu found that the Peruvian plant’s resistance is mediated by droplets of sugar esters that are produced and exuded from hairs that cover the plants. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Quality seeds key to food security

A supply of seeds that is suited to quickly changing climatic conditions is of critical importance to Bangladesh. The country recently opened a seed multiplication center in an effort to augment the supply of quality seeds to the nation’s farmers. Various studies show that climate change will impact food production in Bangladesh, although the extent of the effect is unclear. Still, rice, wheat and maize production are expected to decrease as the impact of climate change is more visibly felt. This article states that the role of the country’s agricultural scientists will be of paramount importance, as seeds for adversity-tolerant crops will need to be developed, particularly for the south coastal areas of Bangladesh. The government will need to encourage the private sector to increase the availability of quality seeds, while also training and motivating farmers to use such seeds. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Genomic studies of wheat, shedding new light on crop adaptation and domestication

Chinese scientists have published two separate studies in the journal Nature regarding the adaptation and domestication of wheat. The two projects, led by the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and BGI, sequenced and analyzed two ancestral wheat genomes in an effort to shed light on the biology of this staple crop and provide a new resource for the genetic improvement of wheat. The extremely large size and polyploid complexity of the wheat genome has been an impediment for researchers trying to gain insight into its biology and evolution. Scientists have been working to increase the yield and quality of wheat by increasing its genetic diversity and analyzing key traits related to its resistance to cold, drought and disease. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Researchers return from Antarctica bearing climate clues

A team of researchers recently returned from Antarctica's Roosevelt Island with hundreds of ice cores, hoping to learn when the Ross Ice Shelf might collapse under current climate conditions. The ice cores, which hold a record of up to 150,000 years of snowfall, appear to contain marine sediment formed in recent geological history. If this is confirmed by scientists, it could mean that the Ross Ice Shelf will collapse long before current predictions. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado reported that current data show it will take at least 500 years for the ice shelf to collapse. But if researchers find sediment in the ice cores, this could mean the shelf could become unstable, he said, having "huge" implications for future sea-level rise. If large portions of the Ross Ice Shelf fell and melted into the ocean, it could raise sea levels by between 6.5 and 20 feet. "From a scientific point of view, that's really exciting. From a personal point of view, that's really scary," said Nancy Bertler, a senior research fellow at the Antarctic Research Center at the Victoria University of Wellington, who helped collect the samples.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Conservation Innovation Grants FY 2013 Virginia

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in Virginia. NRCS Virginia anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be up to $400,000. 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. Deadline 3 May. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Texas Conservation Innovation Grant

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) utilizing Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. 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. This notice identifies the objectives, eligibility criteria, and application instructions for CIG projects. Applications will be screened for completeness and compliance with the provisions of this notice. Incomplete applications will be eliminated from competition, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. Deadline 12 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ State FY13 Conservation Innovation Grant

The purpose of this 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 agriculture production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. In fiscal year 2013, Kentucky CIG is offering soil quality, water quality, and agriculture energy funding categories. These technologies and approaches are on Kentucky’s forefront to meet ongoing State level requirements. Deadline 26 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ NRCS CO State Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) FY13

CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references or to the private sector. In fiscal year 2013, Colorado CIG is offering under the air quality, water quality, and soil health funding categories. These technologies and approaches are on Colorado’s forefront to meet ongoing State level requirements. NRCS will accept pre-proposals for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years, submitted to NRCS from eligible entities including federally recognized Indian Tribes, State and local units of government, and non-governmental organizations and individuals. Deadline 19 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Cooperative Landscape Conservation and Adaptive Science

The USFWS uses a science-based, adaptive framework for setting and achieving cross-program conservation objectives that strategically address the problems fish and wildlife will face in the future. This framework, called Strategic Habitat Conservation, is based on the principles of adaptive management and uses population and habitat data, ecological models, and focused monitoring and assessment efforts to develop and implement strategies that result in measurable fish and wildlife population outcomes. Deadline 4 Jun. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is designed to fulfill the mandate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote scientific progress nationwide. This program is directed at those jurisdictions that have historically received lesser amounts of NSF Research and Development (R&D) funding. Twenty-eight jurisdictions, including twenty-five states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territories of Guam and the U. S. Virgin Islands are currently eligible to participate in the RII program. 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. Deadline 6 Aug. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ EAR Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) awards postdoctoral fellowships to recent recipients of doctoral degrees for research and training in topics relevant to Earth sciences. The fellows must develop and implement 1) research projects that seek to address scientific questions within the purview of EAR programs and 2) plans to broaden participation in Earth sciences. The program supports researchers for a period of up to 2 years with fellowships that can be taken to the institution of their choice (including facilities abroad). The program is intended to recognize beginning investigators of significant potential, and provide them with research experience, mentorship, and training that will establish them in leadership positions in the Earth Sciences community. Deadline 18 Jul. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Regional Integrated Pest Management- North Central, Northeastern, Southern, Western

The four USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Regional IPM Centers (North Central, Northeastern, Southern and Western) are seeking research grant funding applications from state agricultural experiment stations, land-grant colleges and universities, and similar organizations for the Regional IPM Competitive Grants Program (RIPM) which supports the continuum of research and extension efforts needed to increase the implementation of IPM methods. The RIPM program supports projects that develop individual pest control tactics, integrate individual tactics into an IPM system, and develop and implement extension and education programs. The program is administered by the land-grant university system's four regional IPM Centers in partnership with NIFA. Deadline 16 May. Read full North Central, Northeastern, Southern, and Western


(TOP) ~ FY2013 New Mexico CIG Program

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), New Mexico State Office, hereby announces availability of the New Mexico State Component of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate on-the-ground adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications for the state component are accepted from applicants in New Mexico. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be approximately $150,000. 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. Deadline 1 Jun. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ USDA Announces Grants to Develop Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $5 million in four grants to universities throughout the nation to develop childhood obesity intervention programs. The awards were made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. Get more information


(TOP) ~ New York- Conservation Innovation Grants

New York State Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications are accepted for projects located entirely within the State of New York. NY NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be approximately $250,000. 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. Deadline 8 Jul. Read full announcement


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

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 29 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ New Jersey FY13 Conservation Innovation Grant

The New Jersey State Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS-NJ), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications are accepted from all 50 States, Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), and the Pacific Islands Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for projects located entirely within New Jersey. Deadline 28 Jun. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Request for Information for El Salvador Investment Challenge

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (“MCC”) is a U.S. government corporation whose mission is to reduce poverty through economic growth in countries that are committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people. In December 2011 and December 2012, El Salvador was declared eligible by MCC’s Board of Directors for a second Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty through economic growth in El Salvador. As part of the proposal for the Compact, the Government of El Salvador has launched the El Salvador Investment Challenge. The purpose of the ESIC is to invest in public projects that catalyze private investments in tradable goods and services thereby generating economic growth and poverty reduction. Deadline 26 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ NSF Launches $10,000 BREAD Ideas Challenge

bread challengeThe National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the BREAD Ideas Challenge, a prize competition for the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program. The BREAD Ideas Challenge is an opportunity for researchers in the agricultural sciences to identify, in 100 words or fewer, what they believe are today's most pressing issues facing smallholder farmers in the developing world. Up to 25 winners will receive $10,000 USD each and their ideas will be showcased on the BREAD Ideas Challenge website to draw international attention to these important challenges. Ideas are now being accepted at the BREAD Ideas Challenge website from applicants in the United States and around the world. Deadline 30 Apr. Get more information
 


(TOP) ~ Environmental Health and Safety of Nanotechnology

The Environmental Health and Safety of Nanotechnology program provides support to examine and mitigate the environmental effects of nanotechnologies. Fundamental research is sought to understand, evaluate, and lessen the impact of nanotechnology on the environment and biological systems. The program emphasizes engineering principles underlying the environmental health and safety impacts of nanotechnology. Innovative methods related to clean nanomaterials production processes, waste reduction, recycling, and industrial ecology of nanotechnology are also of interest. Deadline 20 Feb. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Environmental Engineering

The Environmental Engineering program supports fundamental research and educational activities across the broad field of environmental engineering. The goal of this program is to encourage transformative research which applies scientific and engineering principles to avoid or minimize solid, liquid, and gaseous discharges, resulting from human activity, into land, inland and coastal waters, and air, while promoting resource and energy conservation and recovery. The program also fosters cutting-edge scientific research for identifying, evaluating, and monitoring the waste assimilative capacity of the natural environment and for removing or reducing contaminants from polluted air, water, and soils. Deadline 20 Feb. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Environmental Sustainability

The Environmental Sustainability program supports engineering research with the goal of promoting sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems. These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival. The long-term viability of natural capital is critical for many areas of human endeavor. Research in Environmental Sustainability typically considers long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. This program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society's need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions. Deadline 20 Feb. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Energy for Sustainability

This program supports fundamental research and education that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and transportation fuels. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Fundamental research on innovative approaches for the intensification of biofuel and bioenergy processes is an emphasis area of this program. Deadline 20 Feb. Read full announcement

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ ASA, CSSA, SSSA seeking Senior Science Policy Manager in Washington, DC

The Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS) is seeking candidates for a Senior Manager level position within the Washington, D.C. Science Policy Office. The Senior Science Policy Manager will support and lead efforts to increase federal legislative and funding opportunities related to agronomy, crop and soil science. Key responsibilities: leadership and guidance in the development and analysis of policy positions relating to the agronomic, crop and soil science fields, federal budget and appropriations activities, outreach to Congressional members and staff, and leadership on efforts related to federal regulation and rulemaking. Interested candidates should submit a resume, cover letter describing your interest in the position, and list of three references electronically to Karl Anderson at: (kanderson@sciencesocieties.org). Applications must be received by May 15, 2013. ACSESS is an EOE.


(TOP) ~ Adaptation recommendations report

ag adaptationsRelease in April 2013, the 25x'25 Adaptation Work Group's "Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: Adaptation Recommendations" presents a variety of pathways for building and strengthening resilience to climate change in our nation's agriculture and forestry system in the areas of research, production systems and practices, risk management, decision tools, and outreach. Rather than being offered as a definitive set of adaptation recommendations, the report is intended as the beginning of a national dialogue on the steps needed to prepare for an uncertain future. See full report


(TOP) ~ Federally funded R&D centers spend $17.8 billion on R&D in FY 2011

The nation's 40 federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs) spent $17.8 billion on research and development in FY 2011, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF). FFRDCs are privately operated R&D organizations that are exclusively or substantially financed by the federal government. Federal funding accounted for 97.6% ($17.4 billion) of the FFRDCs' total expenditures in FY 2011. The remaining expenditures were funded by businesses ($190 million), nonprofit organizations ($61 million), state and local government ($27 million), and other sources ($146 million). Read full report


(TOP) ~ Obama admin unveils adaptation plan for natural resources

The Obama administration, along with state and tribal partners, has released a national strategy urging land managers and lawmakers to take steps to adapt to the changing climate, a document heralded by some green groups as the strongest statement yet from the government about the need to address the effects of rising greenhouse gases. The "National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy" was developed by a team of more than 90 officials, roughly two-thirds from federal agencies and the rest from state and tribal governments. The strategy, developed over the past four years at the direction of Congress, is meant to be a "key part of the nation's larger response to climate change." Its authors tout it as science-based and say it offers examples of practical actions that resources managers have taken that can be applied more widely. Read full strategy or View highlights brochure


(TOP) ~ Scientists' and engineers' perspectives on their responsibilities survey

You are invited to participate in a questionnaire aimed at identifying how scientists and engineers view their responsibilities. The questionnaire is anonymous and should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete. As we aim to reach as many scientists and engineers globally as possible, your willingness to provide input is greatly appreciated. This questionnaire is a joint activity of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Program on Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and the Ethics and Human Rights Working Group of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. Take the survey


(TOP) ~ Federal advisory committee draft climate assessment report released for public review

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) comment period closes Friday, April 12. We encourage you to read the draft report and submit a comment today. The NCA relies on input from experts to ensure a robust final report that can serve as a useful resource to scientists, citizens, city officials, businesses, and others to inform decision making. In order to make sound decisions that protect our health and the natural resources we rely on, we need the best available science on the risks and impacts of climate change. The NCA is one such valuable resource. Produced on a regular basis by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the NCA provides a comprehensive assessment of the current understanding of climate change science, including an overview of likely impacts in the United States on a region-by-region basis. See full report


(TOP) ~ Public food and agricultural research in the United States

As part of AGree’s ongoing efforts to lay the groundwork for a common understanding of the complex issues facing our food and agriculture system, they are releasing a background report on polices for renewing public food and agricultural research in the U.S. The report shows how public funding for agricultural research and development (R&D) has declined markedly in recent decades. As the authors note, major competitors (most notably China) have not reduced their spending on agricultural R&D, and their agricultural productivity growth continues. The authors call for a doubling of total funding for agricultural R&D over the next 5–10 years. They cite this period as a crucial time to reposition the U.S. food and agricultural research and innovation system to address the changing scientific and market realities, and note the related implications for food safety, nutrition, health, the agricultural workforce, and rural and community development. See full report


(TOP) ~ Recently tree-planted lands store more soil carbon

Researchers at the University of Michigan, the Forest Service and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that planting trees in the United States on treeless landscapes can, over decades, boost the amount of soil carbon. The wide scope of the study has allowed for a more focused and precise analysis than previous "big picture" studies on soil carbon, said Luke Nave, a co-author of the paper and an ecologist at the University of Michigan. "People have always thrown up their hands in regards to soil carbon and have said, 'It's too variable,'" said Nave. "It brings the realm of soil carbon accounting a lot closer to biomass accounting." Nave and the other co-authors examined former mining lands, industrial sites, agricultural fields and native grasslands on which forests had encroached. Past mining and industrial lands saw the biggest rise in soil carbon, with one landscape exhibiting a doubling of soil carbon concentrations over 20 years. View the abstract
 

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Some fear farm bill will be casualty of budget war

Federal budget battles have made it that much more difficult to complete a farm bill this fiscal year. The budget resolution passed by the House last week creates the highest hurdle by slashing more than five times the amount that the House Agriculture Committee proposed to cut last year from farm and nutrition programs. The resolution carves $31 billion from commodity and crop insurance subsidies, $18 billion from conservation programs and $135 billion from the national food stamp program. It's unclear yet whether Agriculture Committee members will follow those directions and cut the full $184 billion in any farm bill they approve this year, but only two Republican panel members voted against the resolution. If they do follow the resolution, or propose to take all the savings out of the food stamps program as they did last year, it will likely dim the hope of a farm bill's passage this year.


(TOP) ~ Senate panel to mark up new farm bill

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) plans to mark up the farm bill when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., after the two-week spring recess. Stabenow has not yet set a specific date but hopes to schedule a markup before the end of the month. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee last year approved a sweeping farm bill that would have reformed commodity subsidies, consolidated conservation programs and reattached conservation requirements to crop insurance subsidies. The bill would have spent $963 billion over the next decade while saving about $10 billion compared to current spending. It is likely that the Senate farm bill will be similar to last year's, though the agriculture panel's new ranking member, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), is expected to push for changes to farm subsidies to benefit Southern crops. Cochran last year was among a group of Southern senators who voted against Stabenow's farm bill over reforms they felt unfairly benefited Midwestern crops to the detriment of peanuts and rice. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) has named passing a farm bill one of his top priorities for the year, but getting a farm bill to the president's desk this fiscal year is still far from certain.


(TOP) ~ USGS advancing toward developing nationwide 'water budget' data

water budgetThe Obama administration has released a report updating an ambitious, congressionally authorized effort to develop a national water census that could one day provide accurate, real-time data on freshwater supplies for thousands of watersheds nationwide. The report, released by the Interior Department, is designed to update the public on the ongoing effort led by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a census that will eventually provide real-time flow data for rivers and streams in 103,000 watersheds nationwide. The water census effort is part of Interior's WaterSMART initiative (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow) that was authorized as part of the sweeping Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The report does not contain any conclusions about water availability or supply but provides updates and timelines on the effort. Such information could be invaluable for water managers across the nation, especially those dealing with severe drought conditions. See full report
 


(TOP) ~ OMB: agencies must balance needs in carrying out sequester

The Office of Management and Budget is telling agencies to, whenever possible, take a balanced approach in carrying out the $85 billion sequester in order to avoid harming current operations or damaging long-term projects. The guidance stressed that agencies shouldn’t stint on needed maintenance, spending on information technology or anti-fraud efforts. Similarly, while agencies with carryover balances or reserve funds should consider appropriate use of these funds to maintain core mission functions in the short term, it is important not to use these funds in a manner that would leave the agency vulnerable to future risks due to a potential lack of available funds in future years. OMB also said agencies should refrain from issuing most discretionary monetary awards to employees, except in the cases where they are legally required, while the sequester is in effect. The sequester dictates across-the-board reductions in spending of 13 percent for defense programs and 9 percent for most other federal programs for fiscal 2013. The cuts will come at an accelerated rate because agencies operated for most of the first half of fiscal 2013 without taking into account the reductions.


(TOP) ~ Building support for the DOE office of science

Constituents interested in building support for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science have the opportunity to contact their representative to sign a letter to key House appropriators.  The deadline for signatures on this letter is April 10. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of the House of Representatives on March 28 urging them to sign an accompanying letter “to express our strong support for robust and sustained funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the critical research, unique scientific facilities, and expert personnel that it supports.”  The letter will be sent to House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). Read the letter


(TOP) ~ New foundation will facilitate USDA and private sector research, development

Nine technology-based economic development organizations from across the United States have joined forces to form the Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership (ATIP) Foundation, which will facilitate public-private research and technology licensing partnerships, and promote commercialization of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research outcomes from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and its other scientific agencies. The ATIP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity with offices in Arlington, Texas and member offices in eight states.  It is governed by members comprised of  its founding economic development organizations. Each member of the Foundation also has a separate partnership intermediary agreement with ARS. Get more information

Sources: 25x'25 Adaptation Work Group; AGree; Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership Foundation; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Institute of Physics; Congressional Quarterly; Energy and Environment Daily; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; Greenwire; Meridian Institute; The National Climate Assessment; National Science Foundation; New York Times; Politico; US Geological Survey

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.