A recent report released by the National Research Council highlights the value of research conducted by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), but calls for programmatic changes. A major shift would be realignment of the program structure to “more clearly address its specific mission and mandates as defined in authorizing legislation,” states the report.
This change would result in the termination of the challenge-area program within AFRI, which take a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. The program emphasized a high-stakes, potentially high-rewards approach to solving grand problems. According to the report, a major barrier to success of the program has been lack of new funding. “While the goal of AFRI’s new Challenge-area program is worthy, the size of AFRI’s budget does not allow a reasonable prospect of satisfying its congressional mandate to focus research on the six discipline areas of the 2008 Farm Bill.”
Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture also calls for a shift in funding back towards basic research, with extension and education included as supporting elements of research grants.
AFRI is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was created in the 2008 Farm Bill. The program supports competitively awarded research grants in the areas of plant health and production, animal health and production, food safety and nutrition, renewable energy, natural resources, and agriculture systems and economics.
back to Public Policy Reports