This week, Congress continues examining the ambitious proposal to double the budget for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the USDA’s premier source of competitively awarded, peer reviewed research grants. The proposal would increase AFRI’s budget line to $700 million, the amount Congress authorized for the program in the 2008 Farm Bill.
USDA secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to include a discussion of the AFRI proposal in his testimony on March 9 before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Jerry Moran. And on March 16, USDA Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics Catherine Wotecki will testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, chaired by Representative Robert Aderholt.
“Congress has a terrific opportunity to support a critical pillar of our rural economy,” said Thomas Grumbly, president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation. “With U.S. agricultural productivity having slowed down over the past decade, the sector needs a big booster shot of science-driven innovation.”
The AFRI proposal was the subject of a recent opinion piece written by Dr. Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University, and Dr. John Floros, dean of the university’s College of Agriculture, that ran in the Emporia Gazette and was picked up in other outlets online.
“The big picture,” they wrote, “is to produce food that is safe and affordable. That’s it.”
# # #
For more information on AFRI and the proposed budget increase, please read:
- USDA fact sheet on AFRI and its successes:
- New York Times opinion piece co-authored by SoAR Foundation board members Phillip A. Sharp, Nobel laureate and professor at M.I.T., and Alan Leshner, C.E.O. Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
About the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation
The SoAR Foundation leads a non-partisan coalition working to educate stakeholders about the importance of agricultural research and focus more of our best minds on feeding America and the world. The SoAR Foundation advocates for full funding for the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) to encourage top scientists from multiple disciplines to address agriculture-related challenges in order to improve public health and strengthen our economic competitiveness.