In the Washington Watch article in the July/August 2008 issue of the BioScience, AIBS senior public policy associate Megan Debranski Kelhart explores the new research framework at the United States Department of Agriculture.

An excerpt from the article follows:

The significant challenges facing national food, fiber, and bioenergy systems call for a robust agricultural research system, whether for addressing food safety, security, and availability; thwarting disruptions to food supplies; or managing agricultural and natural resource systems. The federal framework supporting the agricultural research infrastructure was recently changed in an effort to meet those challenges.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (also known simply as the Farm Bill, or PL 110-234) is a more than $300 billion response to the range of issues concerning agricultural systems, including research. The new law aims to streamline and boost funding to "ensure the technological superiority of American agriculture," according to the USDA Research, Education, and Economics Task Force appointed by the secretary of agriculture in 2003 at the request of Congress.

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