Congress agrees to $25M increase for AFRI, USDA’s flagship competitive research program in FY 2017, a 15% raise in last two fiscal years

WASHINGTON, DC (May 1, 2017)—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.

“As Congress continues to embrace the importance of agricultural research, everyone benefits,” said Thomas Grumbly, president of the SoAR Foundation. “With more science at their disposal, farmers can improve production and efficiency in the face of rising costs and threats like drought, avian flu, and citrus greening disease. Consumers then benefit from more stable food prices.

“This budget increase also sets the table for 2018 Farm Bill negotiations, which are now underway. Not only should AFRI’s competitive research budget be established at a point higher than $700 million, but we also need to address how to reach this level of funding while solving the infrastructure troubles at most of our country’s research institutions. The 2018 Farm Bill can lay the blueprint for the future of farming in the US, but only with more agricultural research funding.”

AFRI is the USDA’s premiere source of competitive research funding; proposals are subject to a peer review process to make sure that the key questions in agriculture and food production can be answered. Among the program’s successes:
• Determining a natural process that removes most of the allergens in both raw and roasted peanuts;
• Identifying more than 150 regions of the cattle genome that could be associated with resistance as well as susceptibility to Bovine Respiratory Disease in beef and dairy cattle; and
• Discovering how to intersperse strips of native prairie in corn and soy crops to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff and improve water quality downstream.

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