Senate Committee Hearing on Agriculture Biotechnology Opens the Conversation on Agricultural Research

On Wednesday, October 21, the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing on the federal regulation of agriculture biotechnology. This is an important event—not just because the Senate is tackling a critical issue for both consumers and food producers, but because the importance of agricultural science is taking center stage in Congress.

Agricultural research was once the biggest science field in which the US government invested.After World War II, 40 percent of all federal research dollars went to the food sciences. But now, even though the overall amount of federal research has grown tremendously, agricultural research is only two percent of the total science budget.

More research would help farmers throughout the country handle a wide variety threats—including drought, floods, pests and weeds—and that’s only considering the problems before harvest.

In an opinion piece that ran in the Omaha World Herald, Steve Wellman, SoAR Foundation board member and past president of the American Soybean Association, wrote about what he was missing:

“Here in Nebraska, we could use more science to improve the growing season forecasts. We could also use hardier plants that produce higher yields, along with new ways to improve how we farm.”

Biotechnology is a critical part of the solutions that answer Wellman’s needs. As we examine the solutions already at hand, however, there is a continuing need for more answers—those that solve additional problems now and in the future.

We look forward to working with both the Senate and the House as budget priorities are being discussed to ensure that agricultural research can handle all of these problems, including the ones we don’t even know exist.

More Stories from the community

With Both Eyes Squarely on the 2018 Farm Bill, US Senate Agriculture Committee to Hold Hearing on Research- Nebraska Corn and Soybean Farmer Steve Wellman to testify on behalf of SoAR Foundation

As the policy discussions that shape the 2018 Farm Bill begin to heat up, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will dedicate its next hearing to discuss the importance of agriculture research. Nebraska Farmer Steve Wellman—board member emeritus of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and past president of the American Soybean Association—will testify at the hearing.

Read More
Congressional budget deal lifts agricultural research—$400 million for AFRI, USDA’s flagship competitive research program in FY 2018

The budget omnibus agreement reached by Congress for FY 2018 today includes a $25 million increase for the US Department of Agriculture’s flagship competitive research program and a $140 million increase for the agency’s research, education, and economics portfolio. The budget for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) has now reached $400 million, with the last three fiscal budgets providing a total 23 percent boost.

Read More