WASHINGTON, DC (December 17, 2015)—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.
AFRI uses a peer review process to provide funding to scientists from any research institution who are tackling the key questions in food production today. The FY2016 increase—more than three quarters of all new funding for USDA Research and Education activities—brings the annual budget to $350 million, showing that lawmakers understand the importance of expanding AFRI’s scope even in an era of fiscal austerity.
“We are grateful that Congress has embraced the need to increase AFRI’s budget,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the SoAR Foundation. “Science provides an astonishing number of opportunities to revolutionize agriculture, food production and human nutrition. AFRI, the nation’s premiere source of funding for agricultural research, is delivering key breakthroughs that will help Americans put food on the table now and decades into the future.”
AFRI was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide research grants awarded through a competitive process. The scope of the program includes a wide range of food and agricultural topics and has provided key breakthroughs ranging from how eating broccoli reduces certain cancer risks to pinpointing how heat stress impacts pork production to discovering how to reduce the allergen load of peanuts.
“Agricultural research is one of the most sound investments that our government can make,” said Grumbly. “Agriculture and food production are linchpins of the U.S. economy, and more science is key to sustaining the sector’s health and vitality. Every dollar invested in US agricultural research has produced an estimated ten dollars in economic benefits and an uncountable number of healthy meals for everyday Americans.”