Summary of Research Provisions in Farm Bill Conference

By Gregory Holmes,2014-04-18 08:39
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Renewable energy, natural resources and the environment; Food safety, nutrition and health; Plant health and production and plant products

    Detailed Summary of Nutrition and Research Provisions in

    Farm Bill Conference Report

    of Interest to ASN


Joint national nutrition monitoring activities

    ? Includes ASN’s language to require that the Secretary of USDA and the Secretary

    of HHS continue to provide jointly for national nutrition monitoring and related

    research activities which include:

    o Continuous collection of dietary, health, physical activity, and diet and

    health knowledge data on a nationally representative sample

    o Periodically collect data on special at-risk populations as identified by the


    o Distribute information on health, nutrition, the environment and physical

    activity to the public in a timely fashion

    o Analyze new data as it becomes available

    o Continuously update food composition tables

    o Research and develop data collection methods and standards

Food Stamp pilot program to encourage purchase of fruits and vegetables

    ? A pilot program, funded at $20 million mandatory, is established to develop and

    test methods for improving the dietary and health status of households enrolled in

    SSNAP, as well as to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases. The

    programs must be evaluated. This includes a point-of-purchase pilot program to

    encourage households to purchase fruits and vegetables through financial


Increased funding for food assistance programs

    ? The Food Stamp program is renamed the Secure Supplemental Nutrition

    Assistance Program (SSNAP).

    ? Additional funding ($10.3 billion above baseline over 10 years) is provide for

    food assistance programs (SSNAP, TEFAP, CSFP, Senior Farmers Market


    ? McGovern-Dole is an exception. Funding for this program is reduced



NAREEE Advisory Board

    ? Includes a specific member category for a national nutritional science society.

? Also includes specific member categories for a national food science organization and

    a national human health association.

Formation of the National Institute of Food & Agriculture at USDA

    ? Effective Oct. 1, 2009, the CSREES has been replaced with NIFA. All programs and

    authorities under CSREES are transferred to NIFA.

    ? As ASN recommended, the Director of NIFA shall be a “distinguished scientist…

    appointed by the President” reporting directly to the Secretary, although the bill also

    adds the flexibility to report to a “designee of the Secretary”

    o The Director will serve a 6 year term

    ? The Director is to ensure the balance between fundamental and applied research, with

    an emphasis on fundamental

    ? As ASN recommended, the definition of “fundamental research” includes nutrition.

    It specifically states that fundamental research is that which, “has an effect on

    agriculture, food, nutrition, or the environment.”

    ? No specific funding is mentioned for the NIFA, other than “such sums as necessary.”

    However, programs within the NIFA have both mandatory and authorized funding


Replacement of NRI and IFAFS with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative


    ? The programs formerly known as NRI and IFAFS have been combined to form AFRI.

    The language establishing the IFAFS program is repealed.

    ? Awards grants “on the basis of merit, quality, and relevance”

    ? Authorized at $700 million (previously, NRI = $500 million, IFAFS = $200 million)

    ? Previous language creating IFAFS has been repealed, the program has just been

    folded into AFRI

    ? “AFRI funds are to be allocated in the following manner: 60 percent will be made

    available for fundamental research and 40 percent will be made available for applied

    research. Of the allocation for fundamental research, not less than 30 percent will be

    made available for multidisciplinary research and not more than two percent will be

    made available for equipment grants.” ? AFRI is divided into six priority area and maintains a focus on nutrition and health

    ? Plant health and production and plant products;

    ? Animal health and production and animal products;

    ? Food safety, nutrition, and health;

    ? Renewable energy, natural resources, and environment;

    ? Agriculture systems and technology; and

    ? Agriculture economics and rural communities.

REE Reorganization

    ? In an effort to coordinate the new NIFA and the Agriculture Research Service (ARS),

    the bill establishes a Research, Education and Extension Office (REEO) led by an

    Undersecretary for REE

    o “Under Secretary is designated as the chief scientist of the Department and is

    tasked with the coordination of the research, education, and extension

    activities of the Department.”

    o Must be confirmed by the Senate

    ? Reporting to the Undersecretary are six newly established Division Chiefs who are

    tasked with, among other things, “coordinat[ing] functions of intramural and

    extramural research, extension, and education programs to ensure the maximum

    integration of activities.” – it is unclear if these are a replacement for or in addition to

    the current National Program Leaders. The six divisions are:

    o Renewable energy, natural resources and the environment

    o Food safety, nutrition and health

    o Plant health and production and plant products

    o Animal health and production and animal products

    o Agricultural systems and technology

    o Agricultural economics and rural communities ? The bill limits the number of staff positions in REEO to 30 FTEs.

Roadmap for Agricultural Research

    ? The bill calls for a roadmap to be created “to identify major opportunities and gaps in

    agricultural research, extension, and education and to use this roadmap to set the

    research agenda and recommend funding levels for programs in this mission area of

    the Department.” – the Undersecretary for REE is tasked with this, in consultation

    with the Director of NIFA and others

Other provisions

    ? Study and report on “food deserts”

    ? Defines a “food desert” as “an area in the U.S. with limited access to

    affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of

    predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and communities.”

    ? USDA must work with HHS, the IOM, the Small Business Administration,

    and appropriate public representatives to produce the report

    ? The report must be produced within a year of enactment of the bill, and

    $500,000 is authorized to be appropriated for the project ? The bill calls for the President to submit to Congress a single line item request for all

    research, education, and extension activities for USDA

    ? In addition, emphasis for competitive programs (which is defined as only

    those called for in the President’s budget, so would not include Congressional

    directives or earmarks) is placed on “enhancing funding for emerging

    problems” and “finding solution for those problems”

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