IN THIS ISSUE:

Senate Research Hearing

NIFA Introduced

CREATE-21 Introduced

House Hearing Scheduled

Staff Working on Drafts

Tentative Schedule

 
 
 

Vol. 1 No. 1 May 7, 2007

CONGRESS GEARS UP FOR 2007 FARM BILL

This is the first of a series of reports to NASULGC's Board on Agriculture Assembly concerning the 2007 Farm Bill, including CREATE-21.

RECENT ACTIVITIES:

Both the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the House Committee on Agriculture are in the preliminary stages of crafting a new Farm Bill. The committees have held hearings in Washington, D.C. and around the country on Farm Bill related subjects, members and staff have met with hundreds of interested parties, and several legislative initiatives have been introduced. Here are some highlights:

Senate Research Hearing. The Senate Agriculture Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) held a hearing on agriculture research on March 7. The purpose of the session was to receive testimony on CREATE-21, the NIFA (Danforth) Task Force proposal, and the Bush Administration's Farm Bill recommendations. Testifying on behalf of USDA was Gale Buchanan, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE). Other witnesses included Dr. Alan Lesher (AAAS), Dr. Jeffrey Armstrong (NASULGC), Dr. William Danforth (NIFA), and Dr. Francis Thicke (Iowa farmer).

Committee members asked a range of questions and expressed their concerns. It was clear that there is: (1) broad support for increased funding for fundamental research in food and agriculture (as both CREATE-21 and NIFA would do); (2) support for increased funding for integrated and applied research and extension; (3) a range of opinions about the benefits that would accrue through a reorganization of the REE mission area (as both CREATE-21 and the Administration propose); and (4) some interest among some members in revisiting the formulas used to distribute Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Smith-Lever, and similar funds.
http://agriculture.senate.gov/Hearings/hearings.cfm?hearingId=2583

NIFA Introduced. Legislation to implement some of the recommendations of the Danforth Task Force was introduced in the Senate on March 22 by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-MO), Harkin, Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Ben Nelsen (R-NE). S.971, the "National Institute of Food and Agriculture Act of 2007" would establish NIFA as a stand-alone agency under the Secretary of Agriculture and provide mandatory funding for fundamental research, which at the end of five years would grow to $1 billion per year. The House companion bill (with discretionary rather than mandatory funding) was introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and six cosponsors on May 2 and is numbered H.R. 2118.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN00971:@@@L&summ2=m&

CREATE-21 Introduced. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced the CREATE-21 legislation in the Senate on April 12. S.1094, the "Creating Research Extension and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century Act of 2007" would double authorized funding for USDA's research, extension, and education efforts, streamline and unify the existing REE bureaucracy, and provide much needed capacity funding for the entire land-grant system, with special emphasis on the 1890, 1994, Insular Area, small 1862 land-grant institutions, and AASCARR institutions.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN01094:@@@L&summ2=m&


UPCOMING EVENTS:

House Research Hearing Scheduled. The House Agriculture Committee's Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA) has scheduled a hearing on May 10 on the Farm Bill Research Title. The subcommittee will receive testimony from USDA Under Secretary Buchanan, Dr. Danforth, Dr. Bruce McPheron (Penn State, representing NASULGC), and Dr. Sharon Quisenberry (Virginia Tech). The subcommittee will discuss all three of the major initiatives that are currently on the table (CREATE-21, NIFA, and the administration's proposal).

Staff Working on Drafts. Professional staff members from both political parties and both sides of Capitol Hill have started working on legislative provisions in preparation for the markups which will occur in the next few weeks (see below). The Cornerstone team in conjunction with the CREATE-21 / Farm Bill Committee leadership, and NASULGC staff have met with majority and minority professional staff members of the House subcommittee and the Senate Agriculture Committee's Energy, Science, and Technology Subcommittee. These meetings have included discussions about CREATE-21 and NASULGC's other Farm Bill priorities. These meetings are ongoing and will increase in frequency as the markups approach.

Tentative Schedule Markups as Early as this Month. Most current Farm Bill authorizations expire on September 30, 2007 (end of F.Y. 2007) and that deadline is now and will continue to drive the legislative schedule. One "optimistic" timeline is as follows:
 

May House subcommittee markups
June House subcommittee markups
House full committee markup
Senate full committee markup (?)
July Senate full committee markup (?)
House floor debate
Senate floor debate (?)
August Congressional recess
September Senate floor debate (?)
House-Senate conference committee
Final House action on conference report
Final Senate action on conference report
Presidential signature (?)
October Presidential signature (?)

Note: This is only our best current guess as to how the remainder of the Farm Bill process could unfold. Odds are good that delays in the schedule will occur. We'll do our best to keep you regularly informed.

The Cornerstone Team