HTML _ IB97032 - Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Issues
10-Dec-1998; Jean Rawson; 15 p.

Abstract: The public agricultural research, education, and extension system is comprised of a nationwide network of federal and state agricultural research laboratories and departments, land grant Colleges of Agriculture, colleges of forestry and veterinary medicine, and the nationwide Cooperative Extension System. Although the basic authority to conduct agricultural research and extension programs is permanent, Congress since 1977 has provided funding authority and policy guidance for USDA's in-house research programs, and for federal support for cooperative research, higher education, and extension programs in the states, through a title contained in omnibus farm legislation. The most recent omnibus act is the 1996 farm bill (P.L. 104-127). Despite the inclusion of a research title in the 1996 Act, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees considered more extensive research and extension policy reforms in 1997. Both the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2534) and the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1997 (S. 1150) contained measures (1) making recipients of federal research and extension funds more accountable for the relevance and merit of the programs the funds support, and (2) authorizing research initiatives in a variety of high priority areas. S. 1150 contained a controversial provision to pay for the new research initiatives (along with some child nutrition program expansions) with mandatory funds saved by reducing federal funding for food stamp program administrative costs. A conference committee reached an agreement reconciling the two bills on March 24 (H.Rept. 105-492). Using $1.9 billion in savings from changes to the food stamp program and from other sources, the conference report provides: (1) $600 million over 5 years for an Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, a competitive grants program in the areas of plant and animal genetics, food safety, alternative uses for agricultural commodities, precision agriculture and biotechnology; and (2) $100 million in new funding for the Fund for Rural America. It also spends $818 million on the food stamp program to restore benefits to certain classes of immigrants, and $485 million to partially fund federal crop insurance. The full Senate passed the conference report on May 12 and the House passed it on June 4. The President signed it June 23 (P.L. 105-185). On October 21, 1998, the President signed an omnibus FY1999 appropriations bill that contains funding for USDA's research and education agencies and programs (P.L. 105-277). The section pertaining to agricultural research is identical to that found in the vetoed conference agreement on H.R. 4101, the FY1999 agricultural appropriations measure, except that it contains an additional $7 million for food safety research. P.L. 105-277 provides $1.930 billion overall for research and education. In a reversal of the newly passed research reauthorization act, P.L. 105-277 prohibits the allocation of $120 million for the first year of the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems and withholds the $60 million that P.L. 105-185 authorized for the Fund for Rural America for FY1999. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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