On Tuesday, 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.
“The Subcommittee markup shows progress and a step forward in this difficult budget environment,” said Thomas Grumbly, president of the SoAR Foundation. “The additional resources are urgently needed to tackle today’s agricultural crises like Avian flu and citrus greening disease as well as those that have yet to emerge.”
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. In the last four years, AFRI’s review process identified $3.85 billion in grants worthy of funding. However, with a limited annual budget, the program could only award $950 million—less than a quarter of the science that the program’s expert panels deemed worthy.
The House Appropriations Committee is chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. Last year, the increase that AFRI received in FY2016—more than three quarters of all new funding for USDA Research and Education activities that year—brought the annual budget to $350 million.
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For more information on AFRI and the proposed budget increase, please read:
- USDA fact sheet on AFRI and its successes:
- New York Times opinion piece co-authored by SoAR Foundation board members Phillip A. Sharp, Nobel laureate and professor at M.I.T., and Alan Leshner, C.E.O. Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
About the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation
The SoAR Foundation leads a non-partisan coalition working to educate stakeholders about the importance of agricultural research and focus more of our best minds on feeding America and the world. The SoAR Foundation advocates for full funding for the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) to encourage top scientists from multiple disciplines to address agriculture-related challenges in order to improve public health and strengthen our economic competitiveness.