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Science Policy Report

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sciencepolicy@sciencesocieties.org

07 May 2014

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Science Diplomacy Visit to Cuba Produces Historic Agreement
~ New survey finds significant pollution in China’s soils
~ Brazil's exports to drop to 11-year low after U.S. cuts biofuel targets
~ Predictions of lower crop yields call for yield gap studies
~ U.S. and China lift climate change hopes with new phase of talks
~ Global recognition for traditional farming systems in China, Iran and South Korea

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ 2014 Reinvest ASA: Up to $250,000 Available
~ The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund 2014
~ Decreasing the Impact of Disasters in the U.S. through the Cooperative Extension
~ National Science Foundation: Hydrologic Sciences Program
~ National Science Foundation: The Geophysics Program
~ Crop-Based Products that Replace Petroleum-Based Products

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ 2014 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meetings: Call for Papers
~ Visit Dig It! in Sacramento!
~ The AGU Science Policy Conference
~ 3rd National Climate Assessment Released
~ Soil in the City Conference
~ Ohio’s high soil arsenic levels due to natural processes
~ Congressional Briefing - Crop Breeding: The Root of Modern Agriculture

Congressional/Administration News

~ Annual AAAS Federal R&D Funding Report
~ National Science Board Comments on FIRST Act
~ Appropriations Hearing on Federal R&D Funding
~ 2012 Agriculture Census Data Released

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Science Diplomacy Visit to Cuba Produces Historic Agreement

The leaders of AAAS and the Cuban Academy of Sciences have signed a landmark agreement to advance scientific cooperation by Cuban and U.S. scientists, in key areas of mutual interest to both countries. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ New survey finds significant pollution in China’s soils

The Chinese government has lifted the veil just a bit on a nationwide soil survey that it had classified as a state secret. The environment ministry posted a bulletin to its website yesterday divulging that 16% of sites tested during the 5-year survey are polluted. The report concludes, dryly, that China’s “overall national soil environment” is “not optimistic.” Read the full story here.


(TOP) ~ Brazil's exports to drop to 11-year low after U.S. cuts biofuel targets

Ethanol exports from Brazil, the world’s largest shipper, are expected to drop to the lowest in 11 years as the U.S. plans to cut biofuel mandates, an official at a Louis Dreyfus Holding BV unit said. While ethanol has become cheaper in the U.S. with ample supplies of corn, Brazil has lost its edge as sugarcane crops failed because of harsh weather. U.S. distillers use corn to produce ethanol and dried distillers’ grains, a co-product used in animal feed. Brazil processes sugarcane into sugar and ethanol. Read full article here.


(TOP) ~ Predictions of lower crop yields call for yield gap studies

Wheat, corn, and rice account for about 85% of global cereal production, and these crops contribute a majority of calories eaten around the world. Their production is vital if we are to feed a continually growing population. Predicting future yields of these crops will give researchers and farmers a better idea of what’s ahead. A new study suggests that previous predictions have been overly optimistic and that, in fact, yields in some areas have already reached a plateau. Read the story here.


(TOP) ~ U.S. and China lift climate change hopes with new phase of talks

China and the US have begun an ambitious new phase of talks on curbing their carbon dioxide emissions that observers say is the most promising development in nearly 20 years of global climate change negotiations. The two nations have recently begun detailed discussions about the sensitive issue of their respective carbon-cutting goals as world leaders try to seal a global climate deal in Paris next year that will hinge on a US-Chinese agreement. Read the full article here.


(TOP) ~ Global recognition for traditional farming systems in China, Iran and South Korea

Six traditional farming systems in China, Iran and South Korea known for their unique characteristics and approaches to sustainability have been designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. These new designations bring the number of GIAHS systems to a total of 31 sites located in 14 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The sites are considered models of innovation, sustainability and adaptability, delivering important benefits to the ecosystem. Read the full article here.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ 2014 Reinvest ASA: Up to $250,000 Available

Do you have an idea that, with some seed money, could have a real impact on the future of the American Society of Agronomy? Reinvest ASA is a unique initiative, designed to fund programs, activities, and innovative projects that enhance ASA’s value to members and the agronomic profession. The ASA leadership announces a call for proposals for up to $250,000 to fund new or enhance existing projects. The deadline to submit online proposals is 28 May. View the request for proposals.


(TOP) ~ The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund 2014

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to restore the habitats and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF) will award approximately $8 million - $10 million in grants in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Program. Grants will be awarded in two categories: Small Watershed Grants of $20,000 to $200,000 each, and Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants of $200,000 to $500,000 each. Deadline 15 May. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Decreasing the Impact of Disasters in the U.S. through the Cooperative Extension

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests applications for the Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program (SLSNCGP) to decrease the impact of disasters through cooperative extension programming. Within the states and territories, the Cooperative Extension System has repeatedly served as the trusted community organization that has helped to enable families, communities, and businesses to successfully prepare for, respond to and cope with disaster losses and critical incidents. Once a disaster has occurred, the local extension outreach includes: 1) Communicating practical science-based risk information, 2) Developing relevant educational experiences and programs, 3) Working with individuals and communities to open new communication channels, and 4) Mitigating losses and facilitating recovery. NIFA intends to fund Special Needs projects to implement applied scientific programs that serve public needs in preparation for, during and after local or regional emergency situations. Deadline 2 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ National Science Foundation: Hydrologic Sciences Program

The Hydrologic Sciences Program focuses on the fluxes of water  in the environment that constitute the water cycle as well as the mass and energy transport function of the water cycle in the environment.  The Program supports studying processes from rainfall to runoff to infiltration and streamflow; evaporation and transpiration; as well as the flow of water in soils and aquifers and the transport of suspended, dissolved and colloidal components.  Water is seen as the mode of coupling among various components of the environment and emphasis is placed on how the coupling is enabled by the water cycle and how it functions as a process. Deadline 2 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ National Science Foundation: The Geophysics Program

The Geophysics Program supports basic research in the physics of the solid earth to explore its composition, structure, and processes from the Earth's surface to its deepest interior. Laboratory, field, theoretical, and computational studies are supported. Topics include seismicity, seismic wave propagation, and the nature and occurrence of geophysical hazards; the Earth's magnetic, gravity, and electrical fields; the Earth's thermal structure; and geodynamics. Supported research also includes geophysical studies of active deformation, including geodesy, and theoretical and experimental studies of the properties and behavior of Earth materials. Deadline 4 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Crop-Based Products that Replace Petroleum-Based Products

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking research grant funding applications from any person, public or private agency or organization for its program to support the development and field demonstration of new paint, coating, and adhesive products which are manufactured from domestically produced agricultural materials and are of strategic and industrial importance to benefit the economy, defense and general well-being of the Nation. Many such products replace petroleum-based products, and offer opportunities to create new businesses and new markets for agricultural materials. Deadline 27 June. Read full announcement.

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ 2014 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meetings: Call for Papers

Submit an abstract to the ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meeting by the early abstract deadline of May 22. The Annual Meeting will be held under the theme, "Grand Challenges—Great Solutions," Nov. 2-5, in Long Beach, CA. View sessions in the Preliminary Program.


(TOP) ~ Visit Dig It! in Sacramento!

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil opened at the California Museum, Sacramento, on May 1, 2014, and will run through March 29, 2015. Dig It! communicates to the general public about the connection between soils and everyday life. Originally created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in conjunction with SSSA and the Fertilizer Institute, Dig It! is now a traveling exhibit sponsored by SSSA. It was last exhibited at the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. For more information on Dig It!, visit here.


(TOP) ~ The AGU Science Policy Conference

The American Geophysical Union Science Policy Conference brings together policy makersand policy shapers; those from local, state and national government who bear the responsibility to implement policy; community and industry leaders; and scientists with vital research findings and perspective on what is happening today and what we might expect in the years ahead. The 2014 AGU Science Policy Conference will be held on June 16-18 in Washington, D.C. and include discussions of the science, policy, and communication of the following topics: Natural Hazards, Climate Change, and Natural Resource Challenges. Registration deadline, 21 May. Learn more and register here.


(TOP) ~ 3rd National Climate Assessment Released

The Obama administration released a wide-ranging climate change report on May 6, laying out exactly what impact the changing climate is having on the U.S., and what could happen if it isn’t addressed. The third National Climate Assessment (NCA), a kind of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report focused on the U.S., is the product of years of work by over two hundred climate scientists. Read the full article here. Read the full assessment here and watch the White House release coverage here.


(TOP) ~ Soil in the City Conference

The theme of this conference is “restoring our available urban land and optimizing local resources, while protecting environmental and human health and enhancing socio-cultural dialogue." The conference will focus on three themes: Urban Gardening, Green Infrastructures, and Greening Brownfields. This conference is for anyone working with planning, designing, constructing, and/or maintaining urban infrastructures and outdoor areas, including engineers, landscape architects, designers, biosolids management leaders, contractors/consultants, developers, builders, city planners, arborists, foresters, urban gardeners, researchers, and educators. The conference is in Chicago, IL on June 29 - July 2. Learn more and register here.


(TOP) ~ Ohio’s high soil arsenic levels due to natural processes

Geologic and soil processes are to blame for significant baseline levels of arsenicin soil throughout Ohio, according to a study published in the May-June 2014 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality. The analysis of 842 soil samples from all corners of Ohio showed that every single sample had concentrations higher than the screening level of concern recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The findings shouldn’t alarm the public, say the authors, who note that regulatory levels are typically set far below those thought to be harmful. Rather, the findings pose a real challenge for regulators, who must determine what levels should trigger action when natural arsenic levels everywhere are above suggested screening standards. Read the story here.


(TOP) ~ Congressional Briefing - Crop Breeding: The Root of Modern Agriculture

Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, an internationally acclaimed wheat geneticist at the University of California, Davis, ASA and CSSA member, participated in a joint congressional briefing on the scientific tools for plant breeding and the impacts of mandatory labeling for genetically engineering foods to educate policy makers and stakeholders on the science behind these issues. See more here.

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Annual AAAS Federal R&D Funding Report

The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program has publicly released AAAS Report XXXIX: Research and Development FY 2015, the latest edition in a long-running series assessing R&D funding in the President's budget. The report is a collective product of the Intersociety Working Group, composed of more than 30 leading science societies and non-governmental organizations in the science and innovation policy space. The report can be viewed and downloaded for free here, and print versions will be available for purchase in mid-May.


(TOP) ~ National Science Board Comments on FIRST Act

On April 24, the National Science Board (NSB) issued a statement articulating concerns over some portions of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act (FIRST Act). The FIRST Act is Science Committee Chairman, Lamar Smith's proposal to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act of 2010, for NSF, OSTP, and STEM education programs. The NSB expressed concerns with several aspects of the FRIST Act including language dictating how NSF vets grant proposals and specific funding levels set for each of NSF’s research directorates. Read the NSB’s full statement here


(TOP) ~ Appropriations Hearing on Federal R&D Funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on April 29, 2014 called “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments” to investigate what impact sequestration and other budget cuts are having on innovation in America.  The societies submitted congressional testimony on innovations in food and agriculture.  Over 100 other organizations also submitted testimony.  See the whole list of organizations and watch the webcast.  Follow the conversation on twitter #innovationdeficit.


(TOP) ~ 2012 Agriculture Census Data Released

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the final results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture to highlight changing trends in U.S. operator demographics, agriculture production and farm economics. This highly-anticipated release will provide national, state and county data that are only collected and reported every five years as part of the Census of Agriculture. The new or expanded data will cover numerous topics, including renewable energy production, Internet access and other on-farm practices; operator age, years farming, farm ownership and additional farmer profiles; marketing and distribution methods, value added products, organic production and a plethora of specialty commodities. The information will be used for planning, policy, research and business decisions by all those who serve the millions of farmers and ranchers in America, as well as by the producers themselves. Learn more at the census website here.

Sources: Sources: USDA; NSF; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Geosciences Institute; Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.; Science Magazine; Bloomberg; Financial Times; Time Magazine

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.