06.29.2021

With 19 States Mostly or Completely in Drought, House Committee Proposes $3.391 Billion for Agricultural Research in FY22 Federal Budget Bill

WASHINGTON, DC (June 29, 2021)—As abnormally dry conditions and drought grip 60% of the continental U.S., the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee approved $3.391 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research and development (R&D) programs. If enacted, the funding increase would be 10.46%, $321 million, above the FY 2021 enacted level for USDA’s Research, Education, Economics, and Extension programs. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to pass the legislation tomorrow, and the full House is expected to consider the bill in July.

“As COVID-19 and climate change shrink farm revenue projections, we need to give USDA R&D a sizable boost,” said Margaret Zeigler, interim president of the SoAR Foundation. “The federal share of overall R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s. Subcommittee Chair Sanford Bishop and Ranking Member Jeff Fortenberry recognize just how scorched the earth is in some of our country’s most productive agricultural regions. We applaud their effort to help farmers as they begin to adapt to the changing landscapes. We will continue to work with our partners to further increase research funding to meet urgent rural needs, food and nutrition security, and climate threats.”

“We need to continue to fund USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the highest level possible,” said Richard Wilkins, SoAR Board Member and farmer. “Competitively awarded research grants make sure that scarce dollars fund the best research so that our farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters get the new tools needed to adapt to climate change and future challenges.”

As the USDA’s flagship competitive grants program for agricultural research within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), AFRI uses a rigorous peer-reviewed process to recommend the best research for funding. The program has been authorized by the past three Farm Bills at $700 million but is currently funded at $435 million annually. Depending on the fiscal year, as much as three-quarters of AFRI proposals that are deemed worthy by expert review panels go unfunded because not enough funds are available.

The lack of federally funded agricultural research investments has allowed competitors such as China and Brazil—which have made significant investments in the agricultural sciences—to overtake American farmers in key commodities markets. Increased funding of USDA’s R&D programs—the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and NIFA (which administers the AFRI program)—will boost farm productivity and resilience and bolster prospects in international markets.

 

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About the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation

The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation leads a non-partisan coalition working to educate stakeholders about the importance of agricultural research. For the past seven years, SoAR has supported increased investments to encourage top scientists to create agricultural solutions that improve public health and food security and enhance economic competitiveness. For more information, please visit www.supportagresearch.org.

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