Durbin, Moran Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Boost Agricultural Research Funding

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), both members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today introduced legislation that would require a five percent annual funding increase each year for the next ten years for research activities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  With federal agriculture research investments on the decline, the America Grows Act would restore the United States’ commitment to publically funded agriculture research at USDA. Increasing research at USDA will expand American competiveness in foreign markets; improve sustainable production and climate issues; find more food solutions for global population growth; combat risks for plant and animal disease transmissions; and expand adoption of new data communications, computing technologies, engineering, and robotics.

“The time has come for the United States to reinvigorate our commitment to publically-funded agriculture innovations. The America Grows Act would boost USDA funding for more breakthroughs and innovations to make America stronger than ever before in food and agriculture,” said Durbin, also a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “In recent years, China has elevated its commitment to public agriculture research while U.S. public funding has fallen behind.  If we want to maintain and strengthen American leadership, we must restore our commitment to bold and effective federal research funding.”

“For U.S. farmers and ranchers to remain competitive in the world, it is important for our country to prioritize making investments in agricultural research,” said Moran. “With the help of the latest research and technology, Kansas producers constantly adapt their practices and methods to improve the way we grow and raise our food. This legislation builds on the critical role USDA plays in conducting research to help our nation’s agricultural producers continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world.”

Today, most domestic agriculture research is funded by large private-sector corporations. Moreover, the U.S. share of total agriculture research investments among high-income countries as a group has declined from 35 percent in 1960 to less than 25 percent by 2013.  By comparison, in the past 30 years, Chinese investments in agriculture research has risen eight-fold.

Additionally, last month the American Farm Bureau Federation released a report which emphasized America’s risk of falling behind in public agriculture research, especially to China.

The America Grows Act authorizes a five percent annual funding increase each year for the next 10 years for research activities at the USDA, specifically at the:

  • Agriculture Research Service (ARS) – USDA’s chief in-house scientific research agency with 90+ locations nationwide and overseas.
  • National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – which funds external research through a nationwide network of land-grant colleges and universities, agricultural experiment stations, schools of forestry, schools of veterinary medicine, and cooperative extension experts.
  • National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) – which collects and reports statistics on U.S. agriculture, such as the farm census, crop forecasts, and price estimates.
  • Economic Research Service (ERS) – which provides economic and policy analysis on farming, ranching, food, conservation practices, farm management, commodity markets and rural economic development.

The America Grows Act is supported by more than 100 organizations. The list of organizations can be found here.

Full text of today’s legislation is available here.