What is an USDA Advisory Committee?
Advisory committees provide USDA with independent advice from outside experts or interest area groups on issues related to agricultural programs including animals, biotechnology, conservation, statistical data, farming, ranching, food and nutrition, forestry and wildfires, health and safety, organic, plants, recreation, research and science, rural development and trade. USDA has over 140 federal advisory committees. In general, advisory committees include a chair, several members that may include subject matter expertise (Special Government Employees (SGEs)), consumer and industry representatives. In addition, members appointment as SGE members are subject to public and financial disclosures. Although committees provide advice and/or work products to an agency for the Secretary, the final decisions are made by USDA at the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture or authorizing official/designee.
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Public Law 92-463), the U.S. Congress formally recognized the merits of seeking the advice and assistance of our nation’s citizens by assuring advisory committees:
- Provide advice that is relevant, objective, and open to the public;
- Act promptly to complete their work; and
- Comply with reasonable cost controls and record keeping requirements.
Most of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) advisory committees have been mandated by Congress to ensure that federal laws are carried out by the Executive Branch and follow the goals and plans required for the Agency. Other advisory committees are created under an authorization by law or agency authority at the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture. Each FACA committee is subject to renewal every two-years unless the committee’s statute and charter states otherwise.
The USDA’s Committee Management Officer (CMO) exercises control and provides oversight to all USDA Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) related committees. The CMO prepares the Designated Federal Officials (DFO) and FACA staff of each committee with the tools necessary to carry out their committee duties; facilitates stakeholder discussions; offers innovative solutions to the FACA program and its problematic issues; and routinely provides the Department’s senior leaders with an overview of the FACA program.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity. Since 1966, Congress has authorized industry-funded research and promotion (R&P) boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS oversees 22 research and promotion boards that empower farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses. The board members (appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture) and boards’ staff direct and carry out programs and day-to-day board management responsibilities. Every R&P program’s mission is to maintain and expand the markets for its commodity. AMS provides oversight and ensures fiscal responsibility, program efficiency, and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.
Information about each of USDA’s Federal advisory committees, the Agricultural Marketing Service’s research and promotion boards and its committee memberships, governing laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance relating to the establishment and management of our advisory committees are accessible here:
USDA Federal Advisory Committees Advisories
Agriculture and Marketing Service Research and Promotion Programs
For more information:
Contact: Cikena Reid
USDA Committee Management Officer
14th and Independence, SW
Whitten Bldg., 540-A
Washington, D.C. 20250