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Science Policy Report

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

09 May 2012

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ G-8 pledges not reaching local ag projects
~ Smarter ag needed to feed the world
~ 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program
~ Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate
~ Missouri Projects
~ Maine Conservation Innovation Grant
~ Supporting Forests and Biodiversity (SFB) Project
~ FY12 Region 2 Wetland Program Development Grants
~ 2012 Washington State NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants
~ Vietnam Forest and Deltas (VFD) Program
~ Sea Grant-NOAA Regional Team Collaboration Grants
~ Farm Bill Program and Conservation Technical Assistance
~ Richard Bartlett Environmental Education Award

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ Attend the 2012 AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture
~ President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
~ Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
~ Coordinating U.S. Global Climate Change Research
~ Impacts of Modern Agriculture Biotechnology on the US Food & Agriculture System
~ USDA State Fact Sheets updated

Congressional/Administration News

~ Societies urge Senate to move on Farm Bill
~ New Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) proposed
~ FY 2013 spending bills on hold?
~ Early signs that defense will be protected from budget cuts
~ Obama Administration steps forward to protect student loans

International Corner


(TOP) ~ G-8 pledges not reaching local ag projects

Agriculture and humanitarian experts are urging major nations to deliver on food security promises, saying that only 22 percent of the pledged amount of aid from the L’Aquila Initiative on Global Food Security has been disbursed to projects on the ground. Tom Hart, the U.S. executive director of the humanitarian organization ONE, said, "It's been a challenge," to get nations to apply the funds they committed. "We are looking for a bold global plan coming out of Camp David," he added. The G-8 will meet later this month at Camp David, and the actions and commitments on food security coming out of that meeting will lay the groundwork for the G-20 meeting in Mexico in June. Food security is being forced to compete with tightening belts around the world, and there is a real risk that more pressing financial issues could dominate the G-20 summit. 


(TOP) ~ Smarter ag needed to feed the world

In an opinion piece, Mark Tercek, the CEO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), asks “How can we meet the world's increasing demands for food, water and energy without degrading the natural systems we depend on for survival?” He addressed this question last week at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, sharing the stage with Cargill CEO Greg Page, and noting that in the past, it might have been an unusual pairing. But today, faced with a world population expected to grow by an additional 2.3 billion by 2050, agricultural companies like Cargill are collaborating with organizations like TNC to develop a smarter world food system. And what would such a system look like? Tercek calls it “sustainable intensification,” meaning we have to produce more food with fewer resources, in an environmentally sustainable way. Since we can’t double agricultural land, or use more water, agriculture has got to get smarter, says Tercek, writing, “Between now and 2050, it has to convert much less habitat, increase yields on existing farm and pasture lands and use water and other resources more efficiently. Fertilizer has to be used in a way that minimizes pollution. All this has to be done while adapting to shifting weather patterns and a more unpredictable climate. Read full article here


(TOP) ~ 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative has released a new report, “The 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadershipin Global Agricultural Development.”  The report states that the U.S. government has made major strides toward putting agricultural development back at the top of its foreign assistance agenda.  This non-partisan assessment explores how these changes have contributed to U.S. leadership in improving global food security.  According to Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, and co-chair of the Initiative, “It is clear that the U.S. government has begun to develop and implement a focused strategy for global agricultural development, with well-defined goals and benchmarks.  Renewed U.S. efforts are helping further the plans of African, Asian, and Latin American country governments to revitalize their agricultural sectors, spur economic growth, and alleviate poverty.”  Still, despite the recent progress, the report says the hard work is just beginning.  Dan Glickman, former Agriculture Secretary, and co-chair of the Initiative, said, “The ‘2012 Progress Report’ is best viewed as a midterm evaluation of U.S. leadership in what must be a long-term effort, rather than a final grade on a finished job.  The challenge in the years to come will be to maintain this level of leadership and resourcing for the decade or more needed to bring tangible benefits to the developing world’s agriculturalists - and to our global food security.” Read full report here

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program has been developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills. The program is intended to establish new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to a world-class, broadly inclusive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce. Deadline 6 Aug. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate

AGEP is committed to the national goal of increasing the numbers of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (URMs), including URMs with disabilities entering and completing graduate education and postdoctoral training to levels representative of the available pool of URMs. Increased URM participation in advanced STEM education and training is critical for supporting the development of a diverse professional STEM workforce especially a diverse STEM faculty who serve as the intellectual, professional, personal, and organizational role models that shape the expectations of future scientists and engineers. To achieve this long term commitment, the AGEP program will support the development, implementation, study, and dissemination of innovative models and standards of graduate education and postdoctoral training that are designed to improve URM participation, preparation, and success. Deadline 12 Jul. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Missouri Projects

The NRCS State Office in Missouri is seeking to partner and support the efforts of natural resource conservation partners and to promote public awareness and implementation of Farm Bill activities. The NRCS State Office in Missouri is seeking to partner with a mutual interest in Missouri agricultural viability, water quality improvements, soil and plant health, wildlife habitat improvements and other natural resource enhancements. Deadline 30 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Maine Conservation Innovation Grant

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. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2012 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. Funds will be awarded through a competitive grants process. This notice identifies the objectives, eligibility criteria, and application instructions for CIG projects. Deadline 31 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Supporting Forests and Biodiversity (SFB) Project

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is seeking applications (proposals for funding) from U.S. or non-U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and/or a consortia to provide technical support to improve conservation and governance of priority forest landscapes to mitigate climate change and conserve biodiversity and strengthen capacities of Cambodians at the local, sub-national and national level to produce meaningful and sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the forestry-land use sector, participate in and benefit from the emerging international Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation-plus (REDD+) frameworks, and conserve biodiversity. Deadline 6 Jun. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ FY12 Region 2 Wetland Program Development Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine State/Tribal/local government wetland programs as described in Section I, FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION, of this announcement. States, Tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement, as further described herein. Universities that are agencies of a state government are eligible, but must include documentation demonstrating that they are chartered as part of a state government in the proposal submission. Deadline 8 Jun. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ 2012 Washington State NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging 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. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Deadline 31 May. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Vietnam Forest and Deltas (VFD) Program

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is seeking applications (proposals for funding) from U.S. or non-U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and/or a consortia to provide technical support to accelerate Vietnam’s transition to climate resilient, low emissions development through investments in reducing net emissions from forests, and enhancing resiliency of people, places, and livelihoods in the delta regions to short and long-term climate impacts. Deadline 15 Jun. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Sea Grant-NOAA Regional Team Collaboration Grants

For FY2012, the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program and Office of Program Planning and Integration anticipate making available up to $200,000 for projects that support the National Sea Grant College Program Strategic Plan 2009-2013 and the NOAA FY2012 Annual Guidance Memorandum. These regional collaboration grants will be awarded only to proposals endorsed jointly by the NOAA Regional Teams and the Sea Grant programs in the region. Although other federal, state, tribal, Native Hawaiian, other native cultures, academic and non-profit or non-governmental organizations can act as partners, the Project PI and co-PI of the grant must be a NOAA Federal employee and a Sea Grant Program employee. Requests for individual projects may not exceed $25,000. Up to eight grants (one per NOAA region) of up to $25,000 each are expected to be awarded through a competitive process, subject to the availability of funds and number and quality of proposals received. Deadline 4 Jun. Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Farm Bill Program and Conservation Technical Assistance

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is requesting proposal from eligible applicants to partner and assist with NRCS implementation of FARM Bill Programs and Conservation Technical Assistance and land preservation activities for the conservation, maintenance and improvement of natural resources throughout the state of Maryland. Deadline 30 May.Read full announcement here


(TOP) ~ Richard Bartlett Environmental Education Award

The Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award is given annually to an outstanding middle or high school teacher who successfully integrates environmental education into their curriculum and engages students in interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges. The award recognizes an educator who can serve as an inspiration and model for others. The 2012 Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award will go to a high school teacher, which includes grades 9-12. Because middle and high school teachers may face different challenges in their teaching on the environment, the award alternates between middle and high school teachers each year. Winner will receive $5,000 and two merit winners will receive $750 each. Deadline 8 Jun. Read full announcement here

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ Attend the 2012 AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) invites you to attend the 2012 Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at AAAS headquarters (1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC) on June 14 at 3:30 pm. Dr. Rob Horsch, Deputy Director for Research & Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will present keynote remarks on the role that food, agriculture and natural resources play in providing for a secure food supply and a sustainable economy. Immediately following the lecture, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, featuring The Honorable Bill Northey, Secretary, Iowa Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Steven G. Pueppke, Director, Michigan State University AgBioResearch. To view the program and to RSVP, go to View program and RSVP . For more information, please contact Anne Moraske at amoraske@aaas.org.


(TOP) ~ President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

On 25 May, PCAST will meet and focus on U.S. Agriculture, Science and Technology Research among other topics during its public meeting in Washington, DC. PCAST will also hear from speakers who will provide information on the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer Team Agenda 2012, and two information technology applications--IBM's Watson Project and Google's Self-Driving Car. PCAST will also receive an update on the status of several of its studies including those on the Future of the U.S. Science and Technology Research Enterprise and Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth.  PCAST may also hold a meeting with the President that day which will be closed to the public. Read full federal register


(TOP) ~ Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has released its 2012 'Report to the President and Congress on the Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative' which finds that 'substantial progress' has been made in expanding the efforts to enable commercialization and coordination with industry. Additionally, the report points to the NNI's creation of a stand-alone environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research strategy as a crucial milestone in the responsible development of nanotechnology. The report also underscores the importance of continued efforts to ensure that the United States maintains its leadership role in the field of nanotechnology. PCAST encourages the NNI agencies to: Ensure that Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives are fully supported; Track the development of metrics for quantifying the Federal nanotechnology portfolio; Encourage high-level agency participation in the NNI to more effectively drive agency planning to achieve strategic goals." Read full report here


(TOP) ~ Coordinating U.S. Global Climate Change Research

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has released its 10-Year Global Change Strategic Plan which identifies priorities that will help state and local governments, businesses, and communities prepare for anticipated changes in the global environment, including climate change, in the decades ahead. The Strategic Plan describes four key goals for the USGCRP during 2012 – 2021: [1] Advance Science: Advance scientific knowledge of the integrated natural and human components of the Earth system, drawing upon physical, chemical, biological, ecological, and behavioral sciences. [2] Inform Decisions: Provide the scientific basis to inform and enable timely decisions on adaptation to and mitigation of global change. [3] Conduct Sustained Assessments: Build a sustained assessment capacity that improves the Nation’s ability to understand, anticipate, and respond to global change impacts and vulnerabilities. [4] Communicate and Educate: Broaden public understanding of global change and support the development of a scientific workforce skilled in Earth-system sciences. Read strategic plan here


(TOP) ~ Impacts of Modern Agriculture Biotechnology on the US Food & Agriculture System

The Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture has scheduled a public meeting for May 29 and 30, 2012 in Washington, DC. Agenda items include final reports from the four AC21 working groups on analyses relevant to the overall AC21 charge; potential economic impacts on farmers from the escape of certain genetically engineered crops with functional traits; and further analysis of committee members' views related to the Committee charge in order to identify areas of agreement as well as differences and to prepare for development of a draft report. View full meeting details here


(TOP) ~ USDA State Fact Sheets updated

The USDA Economic Research Service has updated its data sets which provide information on population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. Links to county-level data are included when available. View updated fact sheets

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Societies urge Senate to move on Farm Bill

On 7 May, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA joined with a coalition of over 125 stakeholders to send a letter to Senate leadership urging them to bring the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 to the Senate floor as soon as possible. In the letter, we emphasized that timely action will also enhance prospects for completing new legislation this year rather than needing to extend current program authorities. We also wrote that the Senate Committee bill already contributes agriculture’s fair share toward deficit reduction by reducing spending by $23 billion. Read letter here.  As reported in the 25 April Science Policy Report, you can also View Senate Farm Bill here. Once there, click on “Summary”, “Committee Print” and “Manager’s Amendment” for details. 


(TOP) ~ New Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) proposed

Within the Senate Farm Bill’s research title is language establishing a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Establishing a Foundation for USDA’s agricultural research agencies will support and advance that mission through soliciting and accepting private donations to fund research activities focused on key problems of national and international significance relating to: *plant health, production, and products; *animal health, production and products; *food safety, nutrition and health; *renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; *agricultural and food security; *agriculture systems and technology. FFAR creates a centralized 21st century organization for the agricultural research community to identify, prioritize and address the most important needs facing a growing world. It also: *Complements the efforts of USDA basic and applied research activities while also addressing new and emerging agricultural research needs. *Increases the effectiveness of taxpayer dollars by generating new sources of funding for agricultural research while ensuring that the investment in Federal agricultural research programs is maintained without relying entirely on Federal appropriations. *Fosters new public/private partnerships among the agricultural research community – federal agencies.  Read FFAR overview here. The summary of FFAR can be viewed here. Finally, a letter signed by ag stakeholders, including ASA, CSSA, SSSA supportive of FFAR, and sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee can be read in full here.  


(TOP) ~ FY 2013 spending bills on hold?

Despite recent action by House Republicans focused on passing a plan this week to reverse automatic discretionary spending cuts, it has become pretty clear that Congress won’t reach agreement on how to deal with spending priorities until after the elections. This week the House Budget Committee is expected to advance a reconciliation package that seeks $261 billion in mandatory spending cuts over the next decade. These savings from the mandatory reductions would replace $79 billion in fiscal 2013 discretionary cuts, required by the 2011 debt limit law, and also reduce the deficit. Under the law, $109 billion in automatic cuts, known as a sequester, would take effect in January with $98 billion directed to discretionary spending accounts. House Republicans are seeking to replace those cuts by requiring the Appropriations Committee to work with a fiscal 2013 spending cap that is $19 billion below the $1.047 trillion level laid out in the law, and advancing a reconciliation package that would replace the remaining $79 billion.


(TOP) ~ Early signs that defense will be protected from budget cuts

This week the House committee responsible for defense spending passed a $607.7 billion fiscal 2013 draft bill that includes $850 million to “pause” proposed retirements and reassignments of National Guard and Reserve aircraft until Congress and the Government Accountability Office could review the cost benefits of the Air Force’s plans. The draft bill proposes a budget of $519.2 billion for base defense spending and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations. In addition, for base defense spending, the draft bill would provide $1.1 billion more than fiscal 2012 levels, and $3.1 billion more than the president requested. The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the bill Tuesday. Interestingly, and a sign of growing support to protect defense spending from sequestration, the bill ignores spending caps for defense included in the deficit reduction law (PL 112-25), setting up a likely compromise later this year with Senate Defense appropriators, who are expected to enforce the cap. 


(TOP) ~ Obama Administration steps forward to protect student loans

This week, President Obama and top administration officials continued their public relations push on the student loan issue, despite receiving harsh criticism by Republicans about the campaign distracting from larger economic issues. On 4 May, Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va. to speak to juniors, seniors and their parents about the need for Congress to pass legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling in July. “Congress also has to do its part,” Obama said. “Right now that means preventing the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling, which would make it harder for you to pay for college next year.” On 7 May, Obama held a conference call on the interest rate issue with elected officials and student government leaders, and on May 10, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is slated to speak to students and representatives from higher education and youth organizations at the White House. In addition, several Cabinet secretaries and other senior White House officials are scheduled to discuss the issue at events across the country. 

Sources: ClimateWire; Congressional Quarterly; E&E Publishing; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; The Huffington Post; Meridian Institute

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.