There is a fight to keep ag research in the spending bill

There are only eight legislative working days left before the promised October 31st deadline to pass the reconciliation and infrastructure package. Negotiations are still ongoing as lawmakers debate what should be included.

The latest version of the federal budget reconciliation includes $7.75 billion dollars for ag research, it is a critical investment according to Farm Journal Foundation’s David Hong, who says research funding has been declining since 2003.

According to Hong, “As a country, we have fallen behind competitors like China and Brazil and others who have really stepped up their ag research game. So, one of the things that we really like in this Reconciliation Bill is that there is quite a bit of funding for ag research, particularly around climate issues and how agriculture can support some of the climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.”

He says that the lack of funding could cause productivity to decline or become stagnant.

“That could threaten our market position and market share across a number of different commodities and enable some of our competitors to kind of eat into our trade surpluses for various commodities in other markets,” he explains.

The bill includes provisions to shore up infrastructure at outdated land grant university research centers and to invest in specialty commodities that have historically been underfunded.

“The commodities that don’t receive as much private sector research are certainly in need of the public side,” he states. “So, you know, the private sector is not going to come in on some of these crops like wheat and rice and others, or as much as they have. Obviously with corn and soy there’s been a ton of research from the private side which has been excellent.”

However, as lawmakers look to trim down the price tag to build support, Hong says that it is critical for the agricultural support to be protected.

“Ag research is only about 0.2 percent of this whole bill as told, and I think it’s really important that rural America and all the farm operators that provide the food and fiber and fuel for our entire economy, not get left behind in something that is going to pass,” he adds.

The majority of the funding would be channeled through USDA’s research branches, including the Ag Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, which oversees the competitive grant process for university research.


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