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Groundbreaking legislation welcomed by broad coalition
Washington DC (September 10, 2019)—New legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) would mandate a budget increase for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) four primary research agencies. Presently, private sector spending on food and agricultural research is nearly three times the amount invested by the federal government despite the funding sources being equivalent as recently as 2004.
The America Grows Act would authorize a 5 percent inflation-adjusted annual increase for the next five years in the following USDA agencies:
- National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
- Economic Research Service (ERS)
- National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
“We have to spend billions every year to compensate farmers for damages from a wide variety of disasters,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, “but the food that might have been grown is lost for good. Investing in the research that makes their operations more resilient, productive and efficient will improve farmers’ bottom line. We can’t solve today’s problems—or tomorrow’s—with yesterday’s innovations.”
The America Grows Act has been embraced by a broad coalition of stakeholders including farmers, scientists, educators, consumers, ecologists, and veterinarians—80 organizations in all. The bill was modeled after the successful 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016, which spurred additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Food and agriculture remain a pillar of the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly $1 trillion of our GDP, 1 in 10 jobs, and a significant contribution to our nation’s trade balance. The public return on investment for agricultural research is estimated at $20 to $1. Yet U.S. funding in this area has declined in real dollars since 2003 while other forms of domestic research have risen dramatically.
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