The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation Welcomes New Agriculture Secretary

For more information, please contact: Josh Stull at +1-703-‪828-5219 or jstull@supportagresearch.org

WASHINGTON, DC (February 23, 2021)—The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation congratulates Thomas Vilsack on his confirmation by the United States Senate to be President Joseph Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture.

“We are excited about the future of the agricultural research enterprise with Secretary Vilsack again at the helm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),” says SoAR President Tom Grumbly. “With his previous strong support of agricultural research, specifically, the FY2017 Budget Request that included $700 million for Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI), we look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack to continue to support AFRI at its fully authorized level of $700 million in upcoming budget requests, including FY 2022. With the climate crisis at our front door and the U.S. agriculture and food industries still recuperating from the COVID-19 pandemic, fully funding AFRI will help address today and tomorrow’s crises.”

AFRI’s current funding level is insufficient to meet the substantial current demand for research funding. For example, of 2,719 competitive grant applications received and reviewed through a competitive peer review process in Fiscal Year 2016, only 664 of the highest-ranked applications were funded. An additional 757 proposals, totaling over $682 million, rated as Outstanding, High Priority, and/or Medium Priority could not be funded due to lack of funding.[1]

SoAR leads a non-partisan coalition of 26 organizations that educates Congress and stakeholders about the importance of agricultural research to feed America and the world. We strongly support full funding of USDA’s AFRI, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences, and also support the work of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the agency that administers AFRI. Working with our partners, we have achieved a cumulative $450 million increase in AFRI funding over the last six years ($325 million to $435 million), as compared to FY2015 baseline.

[1] https://nifa.usda.gov/afri-annual-review-funding-portfolio

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