The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation - in partnership with the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NC-FAR), AFRI Coalition, and the American Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) - hosted the 3rd Annual Agricultural Research Congressional Exhibition and Reception on Capitol Hill on May 15, 2019.
The agriculture sector is critical to the overall U.S. economy, accounting for nearly $1 trillion of our gross domestic product (GDP) and one in 10 jobs. Ag R&D has an estimated return on investment of 20 to 1. But the federal government’s support for the scientific innovation needed by this sector has run dry, and our farmers have lost too much ground to overseas competitors.
A new report issued today showed how U.S. farmers—facing a surge of weather events and disease outbreaks—can increase production and revenues with innovations produced by federally funded agricultural research.
The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation applauds the inclusion of increased funding for NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), USDA’s flagship competitive grants program, in the administration’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget.
Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation President Thomas Grumbly today applauded the President’s signing of a final FY 2019 budget that increases funding for USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) by $15 million. Grumbly issued the following statement regarding the increase.
House and Senate leaders released the 2018 Farm Bill conference committee report, which includes public investments in research to help U.S. farmers meet the challenges facing the future of agriculture.
Today, farmers have figured out where to grow most varieties of lettuce at any time of the year. So when romaine was fingered as the source of an E. coli outbreak that sickened 43 people in 12 states, the federal government was able to roll back this blanket prohibition and limit the recall to produce from central California farms, where most of the romaine is grown at this time of year. But limitations in science prevent any further specificity.
SoAR has released a new report entitled “Developing Global Priorities for Plant Research”. The report presents a concise set of plant-focused research recommendations to inform the decision-making of agricultural research funders. It is the result of a series of interviews and an in-person meeting with twelve leading plant scientists from Europe, China, and the United States.
On August 9, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the department’s intention to relocate the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) to outside of Washington, DC effective the end of 2019. In response, SoAR sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow encouraging leadership to ask for a more detailed justification for the change.
A new blueprint produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), “Science Breakthroughs 2030,” lays out how research can transform the fields of agriculture and food production. Drawn from an extensive process that incorporated the voices of 146 scientists in dozens of fields, the report highlights potential “breakthroughs” through five critical initiatives of agricultural research that need to be prioritized—microbiomes, gene editing, data analysis, sensors and biosensors, and transdisciplinary collaborations.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine (NASEM) released a new blueprint report on July 18 titled “Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food & Agricultural Research by 2030” that lays out how research can transform the fields of agriculture and food production.
Scientific research could deliver transformative technologies to the food system over the next decade, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Advances in things like gene editing, data sharing and microbiology could make crops more resilient to climate change and livestock more environmentally sustainable.
A major report released today from a broad coalition of scientists identifies five key areas of food and agriculture research that should be invested in throughout the next decade. It also marks a major lobbying push to fund agriculture research to ensure a steady food supply for a growing population
The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill was introduced today with no increase in the authorization for the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. Overall, this program, which sets the standard for scientific innovation in this field, has not seen major changes since 2008.
The Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee in the House of Representatives released the conference report for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget in FY19 today, proposing a $15M increase for the agency’s flagship competitive research program and a $72M increase for its entire research portfolio.
A new effort to boost federal investment in agricultural research—FedByScience—was launched today in Washington, DC, bringing together 16 public and private universities. The initiative, timed with the release of the 2018 House Farm Bill, focuses on demonstrating to the public and policymakers the many ways that USDA-funded universities and researchers are creating a safer, healthier and more productive food system.
In celebration of the FedByScience launch, please join us for Congressional briefings on Wednesday, April 18th --- Senate: Breakfast and House: Snacks.
The Farm Bill sets the priorities and scope of the USDA every five years. In the 2008 Farm Bill, the USDA’s research programs were reorganized and AFRI was established as a new program to award grants through a competitive, peer-reviewed process. But the reorganization did not result in significant amounts of new funding.
The budget omnibus agreement reached by Congress for FY 2018 today includes a $25 million increase for the US Department of Agriculture’s flagship competitive research program and a $140 million increase for the agency’s research, education, and economics portfolio. The budget for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) has now reached $400 million, with the last three fiscal budgets providing a total 23 percent boost.
Farm science advocates had some success this year in boosting federal funding for the discipline
The coalition’s letter to Congress outlines 10 specific policy recommendations, including funding recommendations aimed at new investments in public food and agriculture research and extension. It also presents policy recommendations focused on improving the coordination, oversight, efficiency, competitiveness, and responsiveness of our nation’s public agricultural research, education, and extension system.
This promising research is part of a broader effort to develop new strategies to address intestinal ailments such as Crohn’s disease.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research, education and Extension budget should be doubled to $6 billion during the five-year life of the 2018 farm bill, according to a broad coalition of 63 organizations involved in almost every facet of the U.S. agricultural sector.
Eleven prominent research institutions in the United States joined the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation today in urging increased federal support of food and agricultural science. Their new report, Retaking the Field—Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health, explores the success of research projects funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grants program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
In collaboration with eleven partnering universities, the SoAR Foundation is pleased to announce that "Retaking the Field: Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health” will be released on November 2, 2017. This report is the third in the “Retaking the Field” series, which is part of SoAR’s broader education and advocacy to encourage additional federal support for food and agricultural research. Please join us on November 2, 2017 for Congressional briefings.
Zippy Duvall, a third-generation farmer from Georgia who leads the American Farm Bureau Federation, is joining the board of directors of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation. The move comes as the urgency of agricultural research is increasingly debated in Washington DC and around the country.
The fall armyworm is the name of a two-inch-long brown caterpillar with a yellow stripe. It has a military name because common infestations are both large and destructive. The insect recently arrived in Africa and its impact on the Lake Chad region — already plagued by violence from terrorist group Boko Haram — has security experts concerned.
Innovation is key as farmers and food producers wrestle with unstable markets for their inputs and outputs. This innovation is driven by federally funded agricultural research, which provides the basic research foundation for all of the high-tech answers. As the 2018 Farm Bill is drafted and debated, we look forward to keeping farm science programs like the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative—the USDA’s flagship competitive research program—in the middle of the conversation.
As the policy discussions that shape the 2018 Farm Bill begin to heat up, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will dedicate its next hearing to discuss the importance of agriculture research. Nebraska Farmer Steve Wellman—board member emeritus of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and past president of the American Soybean Association—will testify at the hearing.
Thanks to leadership from Rep. Rodney Davis and Rep. Jimmy Panetta, the momentum continues to grow for a stronger science capacity within the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). While the caucus will look at emphasizing research programming in the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations, we also hope they focus on the fiscal year 2018 budget and push back on the cuts to the USDA proposed by the White House.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has named 13 renowned thinkers to the executive committee of Science Breakthroughs 2030, an initiative that will identify the most compelling scientific opportunities in food and agriculture in the next decade and beyond.
In California, five years of record-breaking drought have given way to a record-breaking winter of rain and snow that has provided farmers more water than they know what to do with. Southern Africa has had a similar experience, with record drought followed by torrential rains and floods. This change has also been accompanied by the rapid expansion of a new invasive pest—the fall armyworm.
John Floros, PhD, of Kansas State University and Susan Wessler, PhD, of University of California, Riverside, named co-chairs. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is launching Breakthroughs 2030, an innovative effort to determine the greatest scientific opportunities in the next decade within the fields of food and agriculture.
It’s the midpoint of the avian flu season, but poultry farmers in the U.S. are starting to sigh with relief. After worrisome strains of flu were found in chicken flocks in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky—the heart of our country’s “broiler belt”—no more infected birds have been found and warnings are beginning to lift.
The FY2017 budget omnibus agreement reached by Congress last night includes a $25M increase for the US Dept. of Agriculture’s flagship competitive research program. The budget for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) has now reached $375M, with the last two fiscal budgets providing a 15 percent boost.
When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law in 1862, he set in motion the development of a system of land grant colleges and helped create the foundation for U.S. agricultural research that’s endured until today.
The premier program for competitively awarded research grants in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) lacks the funding to reach its full potential, according to testimony heard on Capitol Hill today. The testimony was presented in front of the House Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research—chaired by Representative Rodney Davis—that looked at research in the context of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Picture a wheat disease so virulent that it can wipe out 100% of yield on infected plants. Now, imagine that no known chemistry controls it when weather favors disease.
In conjunction with the SoAR Foundation, The National Academies has officially announced the Breakthroughs 2030 study to produce a 10-year agenda for food and agriculture research. Nominations for the study’s lead committee are due by March 22.
Pointing to achievements that include a new process to remove allergens from peanuts, 11 research universities called for stronger federal support of the food and agricultural sciences. Their new report, Retaking the Field—Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production, explores research projects funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at each institution.
In collaboration with eleven partnering universities, the SoAR Foundation is pleased to announce that "Retaking the Field: Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production” will be released on March 2, 2017.
The global population is surging. There are currently 7.3 billion people and this number is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. All over the world, people are living longer lives. In the coming decades, we will need more food to nourish both today and tomorrow’s families.
Testimony by Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, in front of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry on September 21, highlighted a legacy of advancing current technology and research to help farmers and families across the country.
Agricultural researchers — and the companies that support them — say it’s time for Congress to boost its investment in their work
SoAR’s Retaking The Field report profiled Lisa Schulte-Moore of Iowa State University who used a USDA AFRI grant to show how strips of native prairie protects soil and water. As a result, The Washington Post featured Dr. Schulte-Moore and her team’s cutting-edge work.
When a deadly disease that was killing millions of piglets suddenly arrived in the United States in 2013, no one was sure at first what was happening.
Representatives from 13 schools and the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation will make their case in Washington this week.
Thirteen prominent research institutions in the United States joined the SoAR Foundation today in calling for a surge in federal support of food and agricultural science. Retaking the Field, the report released by this coalition, highlights recent scientific innovations and illustrates how US agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors.
Today, the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation commended the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations for approving a $25 million increase for the USDA’s AFRI program for fiscal year 2017. If this funding level makes it to the finish line, AFRI will have received a 15 percent increase over the past two fiscal years.
The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation today announced the appointments of Neil Dierks of the National Pork Producers Council, Chris Novak of the National Corn Growers Association, Erik Olson of Natural Resources Defense Council, and Richard Wilkins of the American Soybean Association to its board of directors.
The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved a $25 million addition for the USDA’s AFRI program for fiscal year 2017. If this funding level holds throughout the federal budget process, AFRI will receive a 15 percent increase in the past two fiscal years.
Publicly-supported research pays dividends to all Americans, Vincent "Zippy" Duvall said in an opinion piece that ran in The Hill today. Duvall is the new president of the American Farm Bureau Association and he has embraced the call for a more robust research program at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Congress continues examining the ambitious proposal to double the budget for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the USDA’s premier source of competitively awarded, peer reviewed research grants. The proposal would increase AFRI’s budget line to $700 million, the amount Congress authorized for the program in the 2008 Farm Bill.
As a poultry farmer, I was worried when avian flu began popping up around the country last year. Almost 50 million birds were culled in an effort to limit the outbreak, even though only slightly more than 200 birds were actually sick.
The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation applauds the Obama administration’s budget request of $700 million in FY2017 for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). If approved by Congress, the increase would double AFRI’s annual budget and fulfill the Congressional authorization passed eight years ago when the program was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
When it comes to food prices around the world, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that food prices have been decreasing over the past three years. After spikes in 2008 and 2011, commodities prices have trended downwards. This makes it easier for families all over the world to put more food on the dinner table.
In an opinion piece that ran in the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning biologist Philip Sharp and Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of American Association for the Advancement of Science, discuss the lack of publicly funded scientific research focusing on agriculture and food production.
If agriculture is to have any chance of answering these challenges, we must have new and improved techniques and technologies. The problem is that agricultural innovation has not kept pace.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a groundbreaking report in April 2015 on the “innovation deficit.” According to the report, the federal government is abandoning the pursuit of progress by cutting back its funding of scientific research, and leaving it for other countries to accomplish the breakthroughs.
A few years ago, scientists monitoring insect populations began to sound the alarm that honey bees, a critical player in how plants reproduce, were disappearing in ever larger numbers. In the past year, beekeepers lost 40 percent of their colonies, and entomologists were also seeing alarming losses in wild colonies around the country.
On November 4th, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to examine the relationship between agricultural security and national security. Witnesses included former US Deputy Secretary of State, Ambassador John Negroponte and Dr. Tammy Beckham, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University; both of whom provided valuable testimony on the threats and vulnerabilities that could potentially compromise our national security.
The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation today announce the formation of its Scientific Advisory Committee, an eight-member panel led by Vicki Chandler, PhD, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the Minerva Schools at KGI. The Committee’s primary mission is to strengthen agricultural research and raise its profile within the broader science community. Special focus will be placed on the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, the nation’s primary source of competitively awarded funding within the US Department of Agriculture.
On Wednesday, October 21, the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing on the federal regulation of agriculture biotechnology. This is an important event—not just because the Senate is tackling a critical issue for both consumers and food producers, but because the importance of agricultural science is taking center stage in Congress.
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will receive a budget increase of $25 million in fiscal year 2016, an increase that the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation applauded today.
We are at a challenging time in U.S. agricultural history. The past ten years of data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that production—all of the food, fuel, fiber, and other materials that farmers grow--has stopped increasing. The trendline flattened out and is now pointed downwards.
Representatives Rodney Davis (IL-13) and Suzan DelBene (WA-1), the chair and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, should be commended for showcasing science innovations achieved by our nation’s agricultural colleges and universities.
On Tuesday, September 29th at 10 am ET the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research will host a public hearing to highlight research innovations achieved by our nation’s agricultural colleges and universities.
Everyone’s talking about the historic drought in California and how much water the farmers there need. Deep concern is understandable; they grow a large share of our country’s food supply.
Earlier this year, backed by a $1 million pledge from an affluent supporter, a coalition of 15 university, research, and industry groups founded Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR), a Washington, D.C.–based, nonpartisan education group with a separate lobbying arm. And they hired a veteran Washington operative, Tom Grumbly, to run it.
Federal funding for agricultural research—not just avian flu grants, but everything including breeding drought-resistant corn varieties to devising new ways to process livestock waste—has remained mostly flat for decades. Between 2000 and 2008, the U.S. agricultural R&D budget barely increased by two percent annually. China, on the other hand, doubled its agricultural R&D budget in the same time period.
With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), however, scientists at the University of Illinois discovered in 2013 that a small sprinkling of dried daikon radish restored the vegetable’s chemistry that the freezing process altered.
Agricultural research is a tough sell on the Hill. Though everyone benefits from it, it doesn’t offer the near-immediate gratification of other programs.
It’s a bad year to ask Congress for a 38 percent raise, but that’s exactly what the Obama administration is doing on behalf of a new program that better fosters competition among the nation’s agricultural research universities.
Nine billion people are expected to inhabit Planet Earth by 2050. Without agricultural research, there is little hope of sustaining this population surge, given that arable land and water supplies are fixed commodities.