AIBS joined a coalition of more than 130 scientific, academic, and agricultural stakeholders in urging newly confirmed Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack to increase public investment in food and agricultural research and development (R&D) programs.
“The federal share of overall R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s, and food and agriculture lags even further behind most other federal R&D areas,” noted the groups. “Agricultural research funding at the USDA has remained fairly flat over the last fifty years. In contrast, funding for other Federal research agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, has increased 10- to 20-fold during the same period. Additionally, other countries, including Brazil, China, and India, are investing heavily in agricultural R&D, while the United States is falling behind.”
The letter highlights a recent study that found that “U.S. public agriculture R&D spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested.” The groups contend that increased funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research programs “will invest in our rural communities and give our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers the tools needed to manage current and future challenges they face, such as crop and livestock pests and diseases, invasive species, financial, and climate change. By providing solutions to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, farmers can be a part of the solution while improving our Nation’s food security.”