Cornerstone Report from Washington

Vol. 9, No. 8 – April 15, 2011


FY 2011 Appropriations Finally Finished


President Obama will today sign into law, H.R. 1, legislation providing appropriations for federal departments, agencies, and programs. Included within this spending measure is funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The NIFA results remain as reported in our last report. (See:


Compared to FY 2010, the NIFA appropriation was down by $128 million, from $1.359 billion to $1.231 billion. Major reductions to the agency’s budget came from the elimination of $131.9 million in funding for special research grants and federal administration grants (earmarks), along with reduction/elimination of certain “integrated activities” accounts.


However, we were partially successful in our effort to protect the NIFA topline by keeping some of the former earmark monies within other NIFA funding lines. The final numbers for Hatch, McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry, Evans-Allen (1890s research), all received slight increases through our efforts. And, while the final Smith-Lever amount was down about one percent compared to FY 2010, we were able to recover some 90 percent of the $29.827 million cut that had been proposed in the House version of H.R. 1 through sustained advocacy, including successful grassroots mobilization. The fruits of this advocacy effort are clear. The House version of H.R. 1 would have cut NIFA by 16 percent and in the end we were able to hold the reduction to 9.4 percent.


Congress has now left Washington for a two week recess. When they return there is expected to be continued skirmishes over the federal budget, with attention now shifting to the FY 2012 budget and appropriations bills. We will, as always, keep you informed as this next stage of the “budget wars” begins. We expect to face another incredibly difficult situation where our ultimate success depends upon the sustained efforts of all within the land-grant university system.


Finally, we would like to express our strong appreciation for the engagement of the entire Board and Agriculture Assembly and CARET.  Success in this incredibly difficult budgetary environment would not have been possible without the “family’s” concerted commitment and effort.


The Cornerstone Team