IN THIS ISSUE:

Chairman's Mark
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Vol. 1 · No. 3 · July 9, 2007

HOUSE COMMITTEE MARKUP NEARS

To Members of the NASULGC System:
- Board on Agriculture Assembly
- Budget and Advocacy Committee
- Council on Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching
- Council on Governmental Affairs

CHAIRMAN'S MARK RELEASED
In anticipation of the committee markup sessions scheduled for July 17, 18, and 19, the House Agriculture Committee has released a discussion draft of the proposed "Chairman’s Mark" for the various titles of the 2007 Farm Bill. Cornerstone has prepared this synopsis of those portions of the Research Title (Title VII) relating to the concepts raised by the land-grant system in the CREATE-21 legislation, S. 1094 and H.R. 2398. (A link to the bill text can be found at the end of this report.)

USDA Science Agency Integration. The Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics would have an expanded national program staff "to coordinate the programs and activities" of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), and Economic Research Service (ERS). There would be six new offices (collectively referred to as the "National Agricultural Research Program Office") each led by a qualified director reporting to the Under Secretary:

Renewable Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment.
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health.
Plant Health and Production.
Animal Health and Production and Animal Products.
Agriculture Systems and Technology.
Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities.

The offices would include no more than 30 positions to be filled from and financed by the three agencies. (In other words, there would be no increase in bureaucracy or budgetary expense.)

National Institute for Food and Agriculture. All competitive grant programs at CSREES would be consolidated within an office to be known as the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Existing statutory authorities for the National Research Initiative (NRI) and the Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems (IFAFS) would be combined. Funding for the combined NRI-IFAFS effort would come from both appropriations (up to $500 million per year for Fiscal Years 2008 to 2012) and mandatory sources ($200 million per year for Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012). Total available funds (appropriated plus mandatory) would be distributed according to a set formula: 60 percent for "basic research" (NRI) and 40 percent for "applied, integrated research, education, and extension" (IFAFS).

Budget Submission and Funding. The President’s annual budget submission to Congress would contain "a single budget line item" for all competitive programs and "a single budget line item" for all capacity programs at CSREES. (A link to the list of competitive and capacity programs is at the end of this report.)

The President’s annual budget request for both "capacity" and "competitive" programs would be developed according to new guidelines:
 

Up to the amount of the "capacity program critical base funding level" (the F.Y. 2007 level), "any funds requested… shall be apportioned among the capacity programs based on priorities established by the Under Secretary in conjunction with the directors." Above that level, budgetary emphasis "should be placed on enhancing funding for the 1890, 1994, AASCARR Institutions, Hispanic Serving Agricultural Colleges, and small 1862 institutions."
 
Similarly for "competitive" programs, up to the amount of the "competitive program critical base funding level" (the F.Y. 2007 level), "any funds requested… shall be apportioned among the competitive programs based on priorities established by the Under Secretary in conjunction with the directors." Above that level, budgetary emphasis "should be placed on enhancing funding for emerging problems and solutions."

Biofuels/Bioproducts and Specialty Crops Research Initiatives. These two initiatives would fall under the purview of the Under Secretary, who could use the authorization either for in-house research (e.g. ARS) or extramural grants (e.g. CSREES). A broad range of entities (the same as can now compete for NRI grants) would be eligible to compete for the competitive grants. The specialty crops research initiative would be authorized at $100 million per year for Fiscal Years 2008 to 20012 and the biofuels/bioproducts research initiative would be authorized at $50 million per year for that same period.

Expiring Authorities and Misc. Provisions. The NASULGC system requested renewal of programs set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2007. The Chairman’s Mark includes all of those renewal requests. The system also requested a long list of miscellaneous changes to prior Farm Bill authorities. (A link to this list can be found below.) Unfortunately, only the following four provisions on the list were included within the Chairman's Mark:

A capacity building program for the AASCARR Institutions would be established.
The University of the District of Columbia would become eligible to participate in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
The authorized funding level for the Evans-Allen (1890s Research) Program would be increased from 25% of Hatch funds to 30%.
The authorized funding level for the 1890s Extension Program would be increased from 15% of Smith-Lever 3(b) funds to 20%.

The Chairman's Mark does, on the other hand, contain numerous additional provisions not requested by NASULGC that may be of benefit to the system. We are continuing to analyze the discussion draft and may have additional information to share with you.

LINKS

The Cornerstone Team