NSAC's Blog

Conservation and Consumer Interests Again Excluded from Ag Research Advisory Board

April 9, 2014

After a lengthy nomination process, USDA announced yesterday the appointment of eight new members to serve on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board.

The NAREEE Advisory Board advises the Secretary of Agriculture, USDA’s research agencies, and land-grant colleges and universities on agricultural research, extension, education, and economics policies and priorities.  In addition, the Board holds stakeholder listening sessions, reviews draft guidance for competitive grant programs, advises USDA’s Agriculture Research Service on its scientific peer review process for national programs, conducts an annual review of all agricultural research, extension, or education activities conducted or funded by USDA for relevance to national priorities and adequacy of funding, and generally advises the USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area.

The NAREEE board was first created in the 1996 Farm Bill, and replaced three separate advisory boards that had each played very important and distinct roles in advising federal research priorities – including providing oversight of science and technology transfer.  Those included the National Agricultural Research and Extension Users Advisory Board, the Agricultural Science and Technology Review Board, and the Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences.

In total there are 25 members who serve on the NAREEE Advisory board, with each member representing a specific scientific category as outlined in the Board’s authorizing legislation [7 U.S.C. 3123].  These areas include farming or ranching, food production and processing, forestry research, crop and animal science, land-grant institutions, non-land grant college or university with a historic commitment to research in the food and agricultural sciences, food retailing and marketing, and rural economic development.  In addition to these specific categories, the legislation is very clear that certain categories must be filled by non-academic interest groups representing the farm, natural resource, consumer, and forestry sectors.

The newly appointed members will fill the following board vacancies:

  • National Food Animal Science Society (filled by Dr. Govind Kannah, Fort Valley State University)
  • National Crop, Soil, Agronomy, Horticulture, or Weed Science Societies (filled by Dr. Robert Taylor, Florida A&M University)
  • 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities (filled by Dr. Chandra Reddy, Tennessee State University)
  • American Colleges of Veterinary Medicine (filled by Dr. Neil Olson, University of Missouri)
  • Rural Economic Development (filled by Twilya L’Ecuyer, Kansas produce farmer)
  • National Consumer Interests (filled by Dr. Rita Green, Mississippi State University)
  • National Forestry Groups (filled by Dr. Steven Daley-Laursen, University of Idaho)
  • National Conservation or Natural Resource Groups (filled by Dr. Carrie Castille, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry)

The statutory requirements as laid out in the Board’s authorizing legislation are very specific regarding who is eligible to fill each statutorily defined category, which includes:

  • “1 member representing a national conservation or natural resource group”,
  • “1 member representing a national forestry group,” and
  • “1 member representing a national consumer interest group.”

With this recent round of appointments dominated by academic and land-grant institutions, even for slots specifically reserved for national conservation and consumer organizations, NSAC continues to voice its disappointment that USDA has once again ignored the congressionally-mandated categories that require USDA to appoint nominees representing a diversity of stakeholders including farm, conservation, and consumer organizations.

This continues a trend that, over time, has seen the purposes and vitality of the Users Advisory Board and the Science and Technology Review Board lost.  Instead of a merger and consolidation, it has become more of a take-over.

There is clearly interest from farm, forestry, conservation, and consumer organizations, including many of NSAC’s member groups and partners, in filling these mandated positions and helping to shape our country’s federal agricultural research agenda.  NSAC will continue to urge USDA to reverse this increasingly concerning trend in future nomination rounds.

To read USDA’s press release announcing the newly appointed board members, click here.

To see a full list of members of the NAREEE board prior to today’s announcement, click here.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Nutrition & Food Access, Research, Education & Extension

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