SoAR Participation in NIFA’s Virtual Stakeholder Listening Session

To ensure high-quality research delivers benefits for farmers and consumers and sustains the environment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must listen to diverse viewpoints and expertise from all parts of the food and agriculture system.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently held a virtual listening session. Stakeholders, customers, and partners were “invited to contribute your expert opinion on how Federal investments can best address current needs and challenges facing U.S. agriculture.” What a great opportunity! There were comments from all over the United States from across the stakeholder spectrum, including farmers, academia, and agricultural research associations.

Josh Stull, Vice President for Policy and Analysis at the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation provided this statement:

“We appreciate this opportunity to provide input to NIFA on how Federal investments can best address current needs and challenges facing U.S. agriculture.

For those who are not familiar with the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation, also known as SoAR, we lead a non-partisan coalition working to educate stakeholders about the importance of food and agricultural research and we strongly support increased investments in these areas.

Our founder, Dr. William Danforth, said: “Food is too important to the human race to be a research afterthought.” We continue Dr. Danforth’s legacy by collaborating with others to seek larger investments in food and agricultural research.

A recent study found that U.S. public agriculture research and development spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested. Research is the lynchpin that makes our food and agriculture sectors a powerhouse of the U.S. economy.

According to a 2021 study, these sectors account for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting nearly 20 million jobs. That is more than 13% of U.S. employment. Total jobs indirectly supported reach almost 41 million, with a total output of $7 trillion.

One way Federal investments can best address current needs and challenges facing U.S. agriculture is to achieve the long-term goals and strategy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030. Science Breakthroughs 2030 emphasized that transdisciplinary research and systems approach to the agriculture and food system is needed, and the report highlighted the importance of protecting the global food supply chain.

Another way is to review SoAR’s submitted comments to USDA’s 2020 broad request for stakeholders’ input on agriculture innovations. Those comments provide detailed feedback from SoAR and our Science Advisory Committee for NIFA’s consideration on how Federal investments can best address current needs and challenges facing U.S. agriculture.

Thank you for this opportunity and we look forward to continued collaboration.”

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