Created by on 7/17/2012 12:00:00 AM

On July 12th, the House Agriculture Committee approved the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (HR 6083, the House version of the 2012 farm bill) by a vote of 35-11. The bill’s research title reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) through 2017 at its current level of $700 million. Among the highlights listed in the summary of the bill is a statement that, “AFRI continues critical agriculture research by providing competitive grants through integrated research and extension activities.” Section 7405 also lists a number of research priorities, including the study of plant-based foods, zoonotic diseases in wildlife reservoirs, therapeutic applications of animal drugs, and the economic viability of water quality conservation practices.
Unlike the version of the bill approved by the Senate (S 3240) on June 21st, the House draft of the bill requires recipients of competitive grants with commodity-specific or state-specific applied research or extension components, including those funded by AFRI, to provide an equal or greater amount of matching funds from other sources. The House legislation also does not include the Senate provision authorizing the establishment of a non-profit, non-governmental Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). A press release issued by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), a bill summary, and the complete bill text are available on the committee website. It is unclear whether the House leadership will bring the farm bill to the floor for a final vote before the August recess. Programs authorized by the current legislation expire on September 30th.