Science Policy Archives - 2018

ESA Encourages Avoidance of a Partial Government Shutdown (December 21, 2018)
While much of the government has already been funded for fiscal year (FY) 2019, including the Department of Defense (DOD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Education (ED), a number of science agencies will be impacted if Congress and the President are not able to come to a compromise or pass another continuing resolution (CR) by midnight tonight, December 21. ESA's government relations firm, Lewis-Burke Associates, compiled a brief report that discusses the impacts on various federal agencies, which can be found here.

ESA Advocates Again to Pass 2018 Farm Bill (December 12, 2018)
H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, was introduced late in the day on December 10. This latest iteration is compromise legislation between versions passed by the House and Senate, with this version hewing more closely to the Senate version and including several key provisions that the scientific advocacy community had sought, including codification of language to support the Pollinator Health Task Force, funding for FFAR, and the creation of a new honey bee research coordinator position within the office of the chief scientist for the USDA - the job for which ESA past president Scott Hutchins, BCE, has been nominated. The Senate and the House quickly passed the bill by wide margins. Prior to passage, ESA and almost 500 other scientific organizations urged its passage in a letter to lawmakers. Analysis of the bill by ESA's government relations firm, Lewis Burke Associates, may be found here.

Denny Luan, Co-founder of, announces the invasive species challenge grantESA, ESC, and ESBC Host Grand Challenges Summit on Invasive Species (December 10, 2018)
Last month ESA co-hosted a summit on invasive species with the Entomological Society of Canada and the Entomological Society of British Columbia as part of the joint annual meeting of the three societies. With over 150 researchers in the room, the goal was to start to find common ground for addressing the invasive species challenge on an international scale. A summit report is still being drafted, but two key outcomes emerged. First, the need for more international collaboration to solve the problem on a global scale. As a step toward that, a second outcome was the announcement of an innovative crowd funding challenge grant to kickstart innovative research on the topics addressed. ESA will partner with Experiment on this initiative and contribute $1,500 in additional funding. (Experiment co-founder Denny Luan is shown in the photo to the right announcing the funding opportunity). Learn more about the challenge grant here.

HHS Seeks Nominations to Serve on TBD Working Group (November 30, 2018)
Through a recent Federal Register announcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeks nominations for the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, which was initiated as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act. ESA is seeking recommendations to serve as the Society's nominee to the group. The Working Group consists of 14 voting members who represent diverse scientific disciplines and views. The composition includes seven federal members and seven public members. Update, December 14, 2018:  ESA nominated Dr. Megan Fritz (University of Maryland) to serve on the working group. Her letter of recommendation may be found here.

CDC Publishes Call To Action on Combating Vector Borne Diseases (November 29, 2018)
The leadership of the CDC's Vector-Borne Diseases Division issued a Call to Action in an article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The open access article calls for innovation and discovery, building state and national responses, a coordinated response across a national network of collaborators and the development of a national strategy.

Hutchins Appears Before US Senate Agriculture Committee (November 29. 2018)
On November 28, past president of ESA Dr. Scott Hutchins, BCE, appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry as President Trump's nominee to become the new Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics for the USDA - a position which requires Senate confirmation. Both Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) emphasized the importance of agricultural research in their respective opening statements, as did Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), who chairs the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Overall the hearing was not contentious, although committee members questioned Dr. Hutchins on several hot-button issues including climate change and the proposed relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) outside of the DC area. The next step is for the full Senate to take up the nomination.

ESA Launches Invasive Species Management Challenge Grant (November 14, 2018)
In partnership with Experiment, ESA launched a challenge grant to support crowd-funding solutions to invasive species management and control challenges. The project follows the very successful GCAFE summit on invasive arthropods held in Vancouver on Nov. 9-10. Grants that seek to address key focus areas identified at the summit will be considered (areas are prevention, detection, response, and policy). Applicants do not need to have attended the summit to apply. On February 21, ESA will provide an extra $1,000 in funding to the leading project and $500 in funding to the second-leading project. Details are on the Experiment website.

ESA Nominates Two Members to be Considered for FIFRA SAP (November 12, 2018)
On September 28, 2018, US-EPA posted a Federal Register notice that the agency was seeking nominations for experts for ad hoc participation on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). ESA sought nominations from the membership and also provided a link for members to self-apply. As a result of the call for nominations, ESA formally nominated two members: Dr. Jeffrey Scott and Ms. Emily Fuerst.

Lewis-Burke Associates Analysis of the 2018 Midterm Elections (November 7, 2018)
ESA's government relations firm, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC (LBA) provided the society with an analysis of the 2018 mid-term elections. SInce the report was issued the day following the election, several races which were still too close to call are listed as incomplete. The results from many of those races will be finalized in the weeks to come, but they are not expected to substantially change the analysis. Highlights include the fact that the House of Representatives will now be under Democrat's control and that the GOP seems poised to increase (albeit slightly) their majority in the U.S. Senate. While there are several new scientists and science advocates who were elected to Congress, other science-friendly incumbents were defeated.

ESA Congratulates New NIFA Director (October 29, 2018)
On August 31, 2018, President Trump nominated Dr. J. Scott Angle to become the new Director of USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), succeeding Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. The appointment is for a six year term. In a letter timed to coincide with his appointment ceremony, ESA President Michael Parrella congratulated Dr. Angle on his new position and pledged the resources of the society to work with him, continuing the strong history of collaboration between NIFA and ESA.

ESA Joins Another Letter Supporting Hutchins Nomination (October 16, 2018)
ESA joined nearly 30 organizations in submitting another letter, organized by NCFAR, supporting the nomination of Scott Hutchins, BCE, to become the Undersecretary of REE at USDA.

ESA Thanks Congress for Supporting LHHS Funding (October 9, 2018)
In letters to both the leadership of the House and Senate, as well as the respective committee leaders, ESA sent thank you letters in appreciation of the funding for the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations minibus, which included a $2 billion increase for NIH and a $2 million increase for IMLS.

ESA Joins Community Letter Supporting Hutchins Nomination (October 3, 2018)
In a letter organized by the AFRI Coalition and signed by 14 major agriculturally-aligned associations, ESA helped to support the nomination of past-president and member Dr. Scott Hutchins, BCE, to become the next Undersecretary of Research, Education, and Economics of the United States Department of Agriculture. The letter was delivered to both the majority and minority leadership of the Senate and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

ESA Submits Response to Federal Register Notice on Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act(September 24, 2018)
As noted below (July 30, 2018), a Federal Register notice from the Fish and Wildlife Service sought public comments regarding proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. ESA President Michael Parrella, on behalf of the society, submitted three sets of comments to address the three areas of change discussed in the notice: (a) interagency cooperation, (b) listing species and designating critical habitat, and (c) proposed revisions to the regulations for prohibitions to threatened wildlife and plants

ESA Joins Community Letter With Concerns Regarding Proposed NIFA and ERS Move (Sept 6, 2018)
In a letter organized by the AFRI Coalition, ESA joined 106 other organizations in a letter to the leadership of the agricultural committees of the U.S. House and Senate questioning the administration's proposed effort to move NIFA and the ERS out of the Washington D.C. region. In response, the following day, the Senate Agriculture committee sent this letter to Secretary Purdue. On September 20, the Secretary sent his response to the Committee Chairs.

ESA Supports Community Effort Supporting FFAR in the Farm Bill (August 28, 2018)
The Farm Bill represents one of the primary funding mechanisms for many agencies, programs, and topics of interest to ESA. Consequently supporting its development and passage has consumed a lot of the society's advocacy energy over these past months. The latest letter of support that ESA signed on to was organized by the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NCFAR). It was signed by 125 different organizations and advocated for the $200 million in funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), which had been called for in the Senate version of the bill, be included in the conference package.

ESA Joins Community Letter Supporting Senate Version of the Farm Bill (August 21, 2018)
ESA was one of 37 scientific organizations to sign on to a letter addressed and distributed to the leadership of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry regarding the 2018 Farm Bill. Both the House and the Senate have passed versions of the bill which now must be conferenced into a single bill. While both bills showed support for agricultural research, extension, and education, the letter supported the Senate version and encouraged the conference committee to adopt language from that version of the bill.

ESA Joins Community Letter Supporting Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as OSTP Director (August 20, 2018)
In a letter addressed to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology, ESA joined more than 45 other scientific organizations to support the nomination of Dr. Droegemeier to serve as the new Director of the Administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position that has remained unfill for more than 500 days. 

ESA Submits Comments Regarding Proposed New EPA Rule (August 15, 2018)
In comments submitted through the Federal Register, ESA President Michael Parrella urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to  withdraw from considering the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule. In ESA's view, the rule would prove to be overly restrictive on the types and quantity of research which could be used by the agency to inform decision making. In earlier comments (see article below from May 24) ESA had encouraged the agency to extend the comment period, which they did.

Analysis of White House OMB and OSTP Annual Research Priorities Memo for FY2020 (August 3, 2018)
Lewis-Burke Associates, ESA's government relations firm, provided analysis of this annual memo, which is designed to provide guidance to federal agencies on the Administration's R&D priorities with respect to the annual budgeting process. While many of the priorities fall outside of ESA's tiered agenda, a few topics, including medical innovation, american agriculture, partnering with industry and academia, and STEM education are aligned with ESA's interests. The memo was released on the same day that President Trump announced his intention to nominate Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to be the new Director of OSTP. 

ESA submits comments on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (July 30, 2018)
Two recent proposals in the federal government seek to weaken the Endangered Species Act. First, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee announced a proposal to update the Act. In advance of an EPW committee meeting, ESA submitted a letter to Senators John Barrasso and Tom Carper, Chair and Ranking Member of EPW, supporting the current Act and reminding them of our position paper on the topic and opposing proposals to defer enforcement to the states. Secondly, on July 19, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposalto update the Act. A related Federal Register notice from the Fish and Wildlife Service includes instructions for public comments. ESA will draft further testimony for input and also plans to provide recommendations for individual testimony for members who would like to submit comments during the 2018 Entomology Advocacy Week. Comments will be due by September 24, 2018.

ESA Supplies Testimony Regarding APHIS GMO Environmental Impact Statement (July 30, 2018)
On June 28, APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register of an intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement in connection with potential changes to the regulations regarding the importation, movement, and release of certain genetically modified organisms. ESA's testimony focused on the rapid rate of advancement in this field as well as highlighting recommendations made in a recent report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST)

ESA Formally Supports Hutchins Nomination (July 27, 2018)
In a letter to Senate leadership and the leadership of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, President Parrella expressed the Society's support for Scott Hutchins to become the new USDA Undersecretary of Research, Education, and Economics. The letter highlighted Dr. Hutchins' strong academic and research credentials as well as his history of supporting evidence-based decision making.

ESA Commends Nomination of Entomologist Scott Hutchins to USDA Post (July 17, 2018)
On July 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that President Trump had nominated Dr. Scott H. Hutchins, an entomologist and former ESA president (2007), to the position of USDA Undersecretary of Research, Education and Economics. ESA President Michael Parrella praised the choice of Hutchins for the "chief scientist" role: "Dr. Scott Hutchins is an ideal candidate for the role of USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics. His credentials in both science and leadership are hard to match, and he knows first-hand the value of research, government, and industry working together to support agriculture and serve society. I have no doubt that he will be an exceptional asset to the Department," Parrella said. In their July meeting, the ESA Science Policy Committee also endorsed the nomination.

ESA Language on Pollinator Health Task Force Included in Senate Version of the 2018 Farm Bill (June 28, 2018)
Language that codifies the Pollinator Health Task Force was included in the U.S. Senate's version of the 2018 Farm Bill (the full bill exceeds 1,000 pages, the PHTF language starts on page 611). The task force had been originally created by Executive Order by the previous Administration. The Farm Bill passed the Senate on June 28 and the House passed their version on June 21. The two versions must now be reconciled and then the changes approved by both Houses before the bill will become law. The language submitted by ESA to the bill may be found here.

ESA Joins Community Sign-On Letter Requesting Funding for EPA Science Efforts (June 7, 2018)
ESA was one of approximately 30 co-signatories and one of the only scientific societies to join a community letter asking federal appropriators to include $746 million in funding for the fiscal year 2019 EPA Science and Technology (S&T) program. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have articulated the importance of the scientific findings that arise from the S&T program.

ESA Requests Extension of Public Comment Period for EPA Rule's Implementation (May 24, 2018)
In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, ESA President Michael Parrella urged EPA to extend the comment period for implementing the proposed new rule entitled "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science". The rule has been widely viewed by the scientific community as a deviation from established scientific practices, and one that will--despite the rule's name-- weaken the agencies ability to cite and make use of established scientific reports, resulting in a decrease of the scientific validity of any new rules.

ESA Joins Association Community to Advocate for Guidance on Rules from Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (May 21, 2018)
One additional consequence of the recently passed Republican tax bill is that expenditures by tax-exempt organizations, such as ESA, on transportation-related fringe benefits for employees and contractors would now be subject to an unrelated business income tax of 21%. The association community, led by the American Society for Association Executives, organized a letter to the Department of the Treasury to seek a delay in implementation, or, at a minimum, additional guidance on how the rule should be implemented.  

Rep. Ted Yoho at the ESA AIPM Briefing on Capitol HillESA hosts Congressional Briefing on Areawide IPM (May 11, 2018)
Working with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), ESA hosted a congressional briefing on Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM). The briefing was attended by nearly 60 people, including agency staff, legislative aides for House and Senate offices, committee staff, ESA science policy fellows, and others. The Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) and the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) were supporters of the briefing as well. Rep. Yoho provided introductory remarks and Dave Chun, an LA for Rep. Gabbard, provided closing comments. The briefing agenda and presentation slide deck are available via these links.

ESA Completes FY 2019 Budget Testimony (April 30, 2018)
In a series of eight separate documents to the relevant U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate subcommittees, ESA submitted Outside Witness Testimony (OWT) to establish our budgetary and funding priorities as the subcommittees begin to develop their fiscal year 2019 budgets. Each subcommittee has their own rules and timetables for OWT. ESA submitted funding testimony to the Appropriations Subcommittees on (a) Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies (Senate version); (b) Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Senate version); (c) Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate version); and (d) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Senate version). In all cases the House versions were very similar to the Senate versions.

ESA Joins CDC Coalition to Advocate for FY 2019 Funding (April 9, 2018)
In a letter signed by 153 members of the CDC Coalition, including ESA, the group called on leadership of both the House and Senate Appropriators to provide $8.445 billion in fiscal year 2019 funding for the CDC's programs. The letter specifically mentioned the need to provide a strong public health infrastructure to protect Americans from emerging challenges, including vector borne diseases, noting that more than 70% of CDC's budget supports public health and prevention efforts provided by state and local groups.

Analysis of Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY2018 (March 26, 2018)
Lewis Burke Associates (ESA's government relations firm) prepared an analysis of the bill (H.R. 1625) to fund the federal government that Congress passed on March 22. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support on a vote of 256-167 in the House and 65-32 in the Senate. President Trump signed the bill into law the following day on March 23. Broadly speaking, the bill rejected many cuts that had been proposed by the Administration in areas of care and concern to ESA. The $1.3 trillion bill includes funding for all 12 annual appropriations bills.

ESA Joins AFRI Coalition to Advocate for Robust FY2019 Funding (March 23, 2018)
ESA and 49 other members of the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) requested $525 million in funding for fiscal year 2019. The letter, which was organized by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, made the case that agricultural research funding has fallen consistently for more than a decade, to the point that less than 1 in 5 of the projects recommended by the program's review panels is funded. Letters were sent to the leadership of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

ESA Pledges Support for 2018 March for Science and SIGNS Summit (March 12, 2018)
In 2017 ESA was one of the first professional associations to announce support for the March for Science, a non-partisan advocacy organization that supports evidence-based decision making in public policy. The 2018 march will be held in April 14 in Washington DC and at satellite locations around the world. In addition to financially supporting the march, ESA has contracted with member-artist Dr. Carly Tribull to create custom artwork that members and others can use for signs (PDF available here). A limited number of buttons and stickers (artwork shown to the right) will also be available for distribution to members who are helping to organize March for Science activities in their own cities: Contact to request yours today. ESA will also support the March for Science SIGNS summit to be held in Chicago, IL on July 6-8, 2018.

ESA Joins CNSF to Advocate for NSF Funding (February 21, 2018):
In a letter addressed to the leadership of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, ESA and approximately 130 other scientific organizations who represent the membership of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), advocated for robust funding of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in FY2018 budget appropriations. The letter was also sent to the House and Senate leadership as well as the House and Senate Appropriators.

ESA Nominates Rob Venette to Serve on ISAC (February 21, 2018)
In response to a call for nominations, President Parrella nominated Dr. Rob Venette, Director of the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Science at the University of Minnesota, to serve on the Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC), which operates as an advisory body for the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). NISC provides high-level interdepartmental coordination of Federal invasive species actions and works with other Federal and non-Federal groups to address invasive species issues at the national level.

Analysis of President Trump’s FY2019 Budget Request (February 14, 2018)
As they do with each new budget request, Lewis Burke Associates (ESA's government relations firm) prepared an analysis of the Administration’s second budget request (FY2019).The budget emphasizes defense and national security priorities and also seeks to minimize regulatory oversight, shrink the size of the federal workforce, and enact cuts to many non-defense, discretionary programs, including some of the federal scientific agencies of importance to ESA members. The request would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, GEAR UP, and Title VI International Education programs, while significantly reducing funding for Federal Work-Study. This request reflects the Administration's priorities - actual funding appropriations is the purview of Congress. 

ESA Joins Scientific Community in Urging Congress to Raise Budget Caps (February 6, 2018)
ESA joined 94 other groups as part of the Task Force on American Innovation Steering Committee in urging Congress to raise budget caps for both defense and non-defense and make the 302(b) allocations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) and Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies (E&W), and funding for Department of Defense (DOD) science and technologies top priorities when allocating increases. 302(b) allocations are the spending amounts set by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for each appropriations subcommittee after receipt of the committees’ 302(a) allocations. 302(a) allocations are the spending amounts set by the House and Senate Budget Committees for their respective Appropriations Committees upon passage of a budget resolution.

ESA Seeking Society Nominations to the ISAC (January 25, 2018)
On December 27, 2017, the US Department of Interior, on behalf of the interdepartmental National Invasive Species Coalition announced a call for nominations for new members of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC). This information was posted to eNews and the Science Policy Newsletter and qualified members of ESA were encouraged to self-nominate. The deadline for nominations is February 26. Prior to the deadline, ESA is seeking to bolster entomology's representation on ISAC by supporting a few key nominations. If you have already self-nominated and would like to seek ESA's endorsement of your candidacy, please fill out this form.

New Grand Challenges Summit Announced (January 8, 2018)
To address the grand challenge of invasive arthropod species, the Entomological Society of America (ESA), the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC), and the Entomological Society of British Columbia (ESBC) will host a one-day summit on 10 November, 2018. The summit, which will be invitation only, will be held immediately prior to the Joint Annual Meeting of the three societies in Vancouver, BC. 

ESA Supports Self-Nominations of Tick Researchers to Serve on HHS TBD Subcommittees (January 5, 2018)
The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, which was authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act, met for the first time on December 11, 2017 and agreed to the formation of six subcommittees. Nominations were initially sought from third party groups, but on December 22, the committee opted to only accept self-nominations. ESA worked with several well-known tick professionals and the Science Policy Committee to encourage self-nominations and then issues a letter of support for those nominations. (Update February 7): Of the nine nominations supported by ESA, five were selected to serve on subcommittees.

ESA Joins Scientific Societies to Announce the first National Pesticide Safety Education Month (NPSEM) (January 2, 2018)
Along with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and the American Phytopathological Society (APS), ESA supported naming February 2018 to be the inaugural month for this educational promotional effort. The purpose of NPSEM is to reinforce the core principles of safe pesticide handling, from purchase to disposal. Sponsors are soughtto provide cash or non-cash contributions in 2018 to support Pesticide Safety Education Programs run by the nation's land-grant universities. Organizations interested in sponsoring NPSEM should contact Wayne Buhler, PhD, coordinator of the Pesticide Safety Education Program at North Carolina State University. Activities may be tagged with the hashtag #NationalPSEMonth.