BUSTOS, SCHRIER, PANETTA INTRODUCE BILL TO INCREASE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH FUNDING

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Kim Schrier (WA-08) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) – all members of the House Agriculture Committee – introduced legislation that would authorize a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The America Grows Act would restore U.S. commitment to publicly-funded agriculture research, while most domestic agriculture research has declined. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“We need to make big, bold investments in agricultural research to empower our farmers to compete across the world,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Every dollar invested in agricultural research returns more than 20 dollars to our economy, and critical research is needed to arm farmers with innovative tools to fight the growing climate crisis. That’s why my Rural Green Partnership also calls for increased research funding. Illinois has a proud tradition of agricultural research – especially at the Peoria Ag Lab – and I’m proud to join my colleagues on this critical legislation.”

“We have seen outstanding work come out of our research institutions, including Washington State University. With agriculture as one of the main drivers of our state’s economy, research and research funding are increasingly vital for farmers and growers to keep up with the changing economy and climate. The investment made by the America Grows Act will allow for consistent funding crucial for the future of agriculture in our state and country,” said Congresswoman Schrier, M.D.

“As the representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, including the Salinas Agricultural Research Station, I want to ensure that our producers have all of the tools they need to continue to innovate and compete in the global economy,” said Congressman Panetta, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and co-founder of the House Agriculture Research Caucus. “The America Grows Act is the type of strategic investment that will help support the future success of our agriculture industry and help our nation remain at the forefront of agricultural research and innovation.”

“The America Grows Act would ensure USDA has robust federal funding to make breakthroughs and foster innovation that keeps America competitive in the global marketplace,” Senator Durbin said. “If we want to compete with China when it comes to cutting-edge agricultural research, we must increase federal research funding in a bold and effective way.”

“The College of ACES shares in Congresswoman Bustos’s commitment to ensuring sustained federal investment in agricultural research and is grateful for her leadership in advocating for funding increases at USDA,” said Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It is critical that USDA has robust funding to continue supporting critical research at land-grant universities like our own to address the complexities of modern food and agricultural systems.”

BACKGROUND

Today, most domestic agriculture research is funded by large private-sector corporations. Moreover, among high-income countries, the U.S. share has declined from 35 percent in 1960 to less than 25 percent by 2013.  By comparison, in the past 30 years, Chinese investments in agriculture research has risen eight-fold.

The America Grows Act authorizes a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years for research activities at the USDA, specifically at the:

  • Agriculture Research Service (ARS) – USDA’s chief in-house scientific research agency with 90+ locations nationwide and overseas.
  • National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – which funds external research through a nationwide network of land-grant colleges and universities, agricultural experiment stations, schools of forestry, schools of veterinary medicine, and cooperative extension experts.
  • National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) – which collects and reports statistics on U.S. agriculture, such as the farm census, crop forecasts, and price estimates.
  • Economic Research Service (ERS) – which provides economic and policy analysis on farming, ranching, food, conservation practices, farm management, commodity markets and rural economic development.

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos introduced her plan to combat climate change and spur economic growth in rural America – called the Rural Green Partnership – to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. In the Rural Green Partnership, Congresswoman Bustos calls for an increase of basic and applied research funding for farming practices and sustainable land uses and beyond. In addition, Congresswoman Bustos has been a longtime champion of the groundbreaking discoveries made at the Peoria Ag Lab and has consistently worked to ensure their doors remain open and they have the resources needed to continue to make breakthroughs.

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