The FY 2015 budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is $23.7 billion, a cut of $971 million. The President’s budget proposes $2.7 billion for research, education, and economics, an increase of 2.4 percent from than the FY 2014 level.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with extramural academic institutions to conduct research, education, and extension activities. NIFA would receive $1.3 billion (+4.6 percent). The increase would be directed to research and education activities.

Within NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive $325 million for competitive extramural research grants. At this level, AFRI would receive a 2.8 percent budget increase. Major initiatives include research on climate change and proliferation of invasive species and diseases that affect crops and livestock; water resources; and sustainable bioenergy. The budget would also continue foundational research in priority areas and support for interagency collaborations.

Three new Innovation Institutes would be funded at $25 million each. Pollinator health, antimicrobial resistance, and a national network for bioproducts manufacturing innovation would be the foci of the institutes.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducts intramural research in the areas of natural and biological science. It would receive $1.1 billion in FY 2015, $18 million less than FY 2014. Funding for seven of the eight research areas would be cut; human nutrition is the only research mission that would receive a small increase. Research in support of environmental stewardship would be trimmed by 0.5 percent to $200 million. Support for research on pollinator health and prevention of colony collapse disorder would increase by $4 million.

The ARS budget would reallocate $44 million to develop more climate resilient agriculture production systems. Reallocated resources would also be used to support new investments in the development of new plant breeds and strains that better adapt to climate change, drought, and disease while increasing nutritional value and reducing environmental impact.

The administration is once again seeking to consolidate six existing ARS research facilities. Congress rejected this proposal in FY 2014.

Six agricultural research education programs would be consolidated into the Department of Education and NSF, including graduate and postgraduate fellowship grants.


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