Agri-Pulse Op-Ed: Significant federal investment in food and agriculture research and development is long overdue

By Ronnie Green and Rebecca Blank

The U.S. food and agriculture sectors are key contributors to our economy. A 2021 study shows that these sectors account for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting nearly 20 million jobs and constituting 13% of U.S. employment. Almost 41 million jobs are indirectly supported by the food and agriculture sectors, with total output reaching $7 trillion.

This success is built on a strong foundation of agriculture research and development (R&D) investments over much of the last century. A recent study found that U.S. public food and agriculture R&D spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested. Increasing agricultural R&D funding, both in-house at USDA and through external collaborative agriculture research and capacity-building at universities like the University of Nebraska and the University of Wisconsin, will give our farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters the tools they need to improve resiliency and scale up climate-smart agriculture. Without significant investments in climate-smart agriculture research and outreach, U.S. farmers could face serious production challenges with rural communities suffering from stagnant growth.

Published on Agri-Pulse, see full OpEd here: https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/16186-opinion-significant-federal-investment-in-food-and-agriculture-research-and-development-is-long-overdue.

About the authors:

Dr. Ronnie D. Green, a SoAR Board Member, is the Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and former Vice Chancellor of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In addition to leadership in higher education, he is an internationally recognized leader in animal genetics and genomics and has held executive leadership roles in government, private industry and academia. 

Rebecca Blank has been chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2013. She is an internationally respected economist who has held senior roles in Washington, D.C. under three different administrations.

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