06.4.2019

House Budget Proposal Provides $30M Boost for USDA’s Flagship Science Program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Washington, DC (June 4, 2019)—The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation applauds the House Appropriations Committee for increasing Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding to $445 million during today’s full committee mark-up of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If enacted, these levels would provide a $30 million increase from FY 2019 enacted levels. 

“Erratic weather continues to hammer farmers and food producers across the country,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the SoAR Foundation. “They need new ways to handle the disruptive conditions being thrown at their operations, and this requires investing in the science that underpins the innovations needed. We thank the committee for its strong bipartisan support of AFRI, and we look forward to getting this increase enacted into law this fiscal year.”

Flooding in the U.S. heartland has significantly delayed this year’s corn and soy plantings. According to the USDA’s June 3 Crop Progress report, only 67% of the expected corn acreage has been planted so far this year, compared to an average of 96% over the past five years. Soy plantings have fared poorly as well, with only 39% of expected acreage planted compared to a five-year average of 79% at this time. The late start to the plantings could significantly limit farmers’ yields unless their fields see near-perfect weather conditions for the rest of the growing season. Farmers need these investments in agricultural research to provide innovation that supports their operations.

AFRI is USDA’s flagship competitive grants program. Funding is based on merit, and proposals are rigorously peer-reviewed. This process ensures that AFRI grants apply the best scientific research to the challenges that farmers and consumers face. With a limited annual budget, however, the program typically provides funding to less than a quarter of the science that the program’s expert panels deem worthy.

The program is currently authorized at $700 million but has never received this full amount during the annual appropriations process. This latest $30 million increase from the House Appropriations Committee demonstrates a strong commitment to the program.

The scope of the program includes a wide range of food and agricultural topics and has provided key breakthroughs including how eating broccoli reduces certain cancer risks, pinpointing how heat stress impacts pork production, and discovering how to reduce the allergen load of peanuts.

 

More Stories from the community

The Hill: Agriculture faces a scientific innovation drought

The agriculture sector is critical to the overall U.S. economy, accounting for nearly $1 trillion of our gross domestic product (GDP) and one in 10 jobs. Ag R&D has an estimated return on investment of 20 to 1. But the federal government’s support for the scientific innovation needed by this sector has run dry, and our farmers have lost too much ground to overseas competitors.

Read More
From Controlling Drug-Resistant Bacteria to Improving Gut Health, New Report Highlights Food and Ag Science Breakthroughs at 11 Universities

Eleven prominent research institutions in the United States joined the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation today in urging increased federal support of food and agricultural science. Their new report, Retaking the Field—Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health, explores the success of research projects funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grants program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Read More