Happy New Year

The federal government began FY2019 on October 1 with the passage of 6 out of 12 appropriations bills and a Continuing Resolution until early December for the balance of the federal government's funding. Some highlights of the federal funding are increases to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the annual Pell Grant.

 
Federal grants account for $6 out of every $10 that University of Minnesota researchers are awarded. In 2017, the most recent data available, the University received $438 million in federal research with the largest amounts from the NIH ($244 million), the National Science Foundation ($71.6 million), and the Department of Agriculture ($25.6 million).
 
Pell Grants provide need-based funding for undergraduate education. Twenty-four percent of University undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients, so this year's $100 increase affects thousands of our students and raises the maximum Pell Grants to $6,195 per year.
 
We will continue to work with the members of the Minnesota delegation on the importance of completing the FY19 funding for other research agencies, including the NSF, USDA, NASA, and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
 
Farm Bill
 
Both the House and Senate passed their own versions of the Farm Bill earlier this summer. The legislation governs agricultural research, Extension, and many other critical programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps). 
 
There are many aspects of the Farm Bill that impact the University, such as funding for the National Animal Health Lab Network, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, forestry research, and plant genomics research. The University also has a robust SNAP-Ed program which educates Minnesotans eligible for SNAP about nutrition.
 
Legislators and their staff have been working to reach an agreement on the final bill, yet are continuing to negotiate a number of differences. We do not anticipate a final agreement until after the election.
 
USDA Division to Relocate
 
The secretary of USDA announced this summer his interest in moving two departments-the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture-out of Washington, D.C. The University, in coalition with the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership (GREATER MSP) and the Minnesota Food and Agriculture Initiative, submitted a bid in support of moving these departments to Minnesota. The coalition believes Minnesota has all the elements for success-a thriving agricultural community, Fortune 500 agribusiness companies, cutting edge research, and a skilled workforce.
 
The first round of submissions was due this month. Finalists will be asked to develop a more detailed proposal, with a decision to be made in 2019. 
 
Election Day is November 6
 
Minnesota heads into the midterm elections with both U.S. Senate seats up for re-election, and several of competitive U.S. House races. Three U.S. House seats are open this year. 
 
Nationally, the control of the House of Representatives lies in the balance with the current make-up of 235 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and 7 vacancies. Democrats would need to win 23 seats to take control of the chamber.
 
The current balance in the US Senate is 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and 2 Independents.  However, Democrats are playing defense with 25 Democratic/Independent senators up for re-election v. 8 Republican senators.