Board News



The National Research Council (NRC)’s Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) met in Washington, DC on November 14-15, 2013. The Board explored emerging issues in animal nutrition; revitalizing research universities; crop models, and the PCAST report on Agricultural Preparedness, among other topics.  Joan Guilfoyle, Chief of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Division, visited with BANR members to describe the agency’s reaction to the recently issued NRC report on using science to improve the WH&B program.

US Forest Service Climate Adviser David Cleaves and Al Sample, President of the Pinchot Institute, talked to BANR about the critical needs for forest management in the face of climate change; World Wildlife Fund’s Jason Clay provided a briefing on the role of aquaculture in a sustainable global food system; Michael  Wolosin from Climate Advisers pitched a possible NRC study on the relationship of U.S. consumption and tropical deforestation; and, Iowa State University’s Micheal Owen discussed efforts underway to address herbicide-resistant weeds.  In the coming weeks, the Board members will develop follow up plans to pursue some of these topics in greater depth. Contact Robin Schoen for more information.



AFRI Program
The NRC committee that is reviewing the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the competitive research grants program administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, held its final meeting in October, 2013.
The committee is now preparing its penultimate draft of the report, which will be sent out in late December to a team of anonymous peer reviewers.  The committee must revise its report in response to the reviewers’ critique, a process overseen by the Report Review Committee of the National Academy of Sciences.  The report on the AFRI program is expected to be released by the summer of 2014.   More information about the study, which was requested by USDA, can be found here.

Framework for Assessing the Food System
The goal of this study, which is being led by the Academy’s Institute of Medicine in partnership with BANR, is to develop a systematic approach for comparing the health, environmental, and social effects of different configurations of the food system (defined as activities, practices, or other aspects of concern within or across the food system).
In September, the committee held a public 2-day workshop in Washington, DC on Mapping the Food System and its Effects.  View the agenda here.




Committee on the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle

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From right to left: Top: Andy Cole, Clint Krehbiel, Ron Lemenager, Galen Erickson
Seated: Joel Caton, Karen Beachemin, Michael Gaylean, Joan Eisemann, Luis Tedeshi
Not Pictured: Terry Engle


Committee to Review the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

In open sessions, the committee heard about the origins of AFRI, the current operations of AFRI, the broader picture of competitive grant programs in agricultural research, and other topics.  Individuals who spoke before the committee included USDA officials, grantees, and others:

Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, USDA/NIFA
Ed Knipling, Administrator, USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Sharlene Weatherwax, Associate Director for Science and Biological Environmental Research,
  Department of Energy
Ian Maw, Vice President of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Association of Public and
  Land-Grant Universities
Anthony Pescatore, Board President, Federation of Animal Science Societies
Jeffrey Volenec, President, Crop Society of America
Hon. Catherine Woteki, USDA, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Extension
William H. Danforth, II, Chancellor Emeritus, Washington University, St. Louis
Mark Mirando, National Program Leader, USDA/NIFA
Ann Lichens-Park, National Program Leader, USDA/NIFA
Conner Bailey, Professor of Rural Sociology, Auburn University
Holly Neibergs, Professor of Genetics, Washington University
Li-Jun Ma, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of
Lee-Ann Jaykus, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in Food Science, North
  Carolina State University
Barbara Schaal, Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor, Washington State University
Jeffrey D. Armstrong, President, California Polytechnic University
Roger Beachy, Professor, Washington State University
Scott Loveridge, Professor of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State
Peggy Lemaux, President, American Society of Plant Biology
Will Fisher, President of Science and Policy Initiatives, Institute for Food Technologists
Kei Koizumi, Assistant Director, Federal Research and Development, Office of Science
  Technology Policy
Noah Engelberg, Progam Examiner, Office of Management and Budget



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From left to right: Top: Bert Garza, Gene Hugoson, Jim Carrington, Steve Buccola, Keith Belli, Jim Zuiches, Ronnie Green, Phil Pardey
Seated: Peter Bruns, Machi Dilworth, Vic Lectenberg (chair), Steve Balling, Rosemary Haggett, Bennie Osburn
Not pictured: Sally Rockey, Juliana Ruzante



The fall meeting of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) was held at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in Irvine, CA on October 15-16, 2012.  Board member A.G. Kawamura treated BANR to a local tour. First on the agenda was a High Temperature Fuel Cell Tri-Generation project at the Orange County Sanitation District, featuring a large wastewater digester unit, a high-temperature electric-producing hydrogen fuel cell, and a public filling station for hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles (Irvine, CA is hot bed for test vehicles). Thanks to Dr. Scott Samuelson of the UC, Irvine for being a guide for the group. 

The next stop was the Orange County Great Park, a 1,300 parcel of land that once housed El Toro, a Marine Corps Air Station.  The land is gradually being transformed into a large, multi-use, urban park featuring a giant hot-air balloon, athletic fields, and other amenities.  BANR visited the park’s Farm and Food Lab, where school children and the public can learn about the science and practical experience of growing one’s own food.  Among the assortment of themed demonstration plots are several learning stations, including one featuring a solar powered aquaculture-aquaponics unit.  The Farm and Food Lab is maintained by the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.

Finally, the Board viewed the 200 acres of park dedicated to urban agriculture, where beans and other vegetables, organic strawberries, and native plants are being grown on the transformed former runways of the Air Station under the stewardship of Orange County Produce.  

A Very Special Thanks to A.G. Kawamura for arranging the tour in Irvine, and to Tom Larson for being our host at the Farm and Food Lab.



From left to right:  Roger Sedjo, Harold Bergman, Vic Lechtenberg, Kirk Klasing, Peggy Barlett, Norman Scott, A.G. Kawamura, Peggy Tsai, Hal Salwasser, Joan Eisemann, Rick Dixon, Karen Imhof, Robb Johnson, Robin Schoen, Kathy Segerson, Mercedes Vazquez-Anon, Gene Hugoson, Chuck Rice, and our host at the Food and Farm Lab, Tom Larson.