Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Sunday 12/09/12

White House Science Advisors Stress Ag Research Investments

The country's agricultural research "is not prepared to meet the challenges that U.S. agriculture faces in the 21st century," according to a new report released Friday by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Continued investment is needed for agriculture to keep its competitive advantage, the administration report stated.

While pointing out the U.S. currently remains "the undisputed world leader in agricultural production today," the president's science advisors highlight that farmers and agricultural production face new challenges, including new pests, pathogens and invasive plants, increasing the efficiency of water use, reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture, growing food in a changing climate, managing the production of bioenergy, producing safe and nutritious food, and assisting with global food security by maintaining production levels.

Doing all of that is going to demand a greater emphasis on agricultural research and technology, the report stated. However, the country isn't prepared. First, the report states federal funding for ag research, particularly distributed through competitive grants, is lower than other forms of government research. Second, the advisory council cited that a lot of current government research overlaps the private sector in different areas while underfunding others that are ignored in the private sector.

Moreover, while private commitment to research remains strong, the report states most of the biggest companies involved in agricultural research are global firms now investing heavily in countries such as Brazil, China and India as those countries plow more public money into ag research. "The waning public investment in agricultural research in the United States contributes significantly to the risk of losing its international leadership in agriculture."

The report recommends the country boost its investment in agricultural research by $700 million a year. Yet, later in the report, it's also noted that government research papers going back 40 years have stressed the need to increase research investment in agriculture.

In 2009, the report notes public and private agricultural research accounted for about $14 billion, of which $3.8 billion was federal funding. Private research was $8.7 billion. States and universities filled out the rest of the funds.

Unless Congress moves to avoid sequestration cuts, USDA research agencies will actually face an 8.7% across-the-board budget cut.

Some of the recommendations in Friday's report have been acted upon at different levels. In September, USDA rolled out its "Long-Term Agro-Ecosystem Research sites, known as LTAR, an initial series of 10 ARS research facilities set up nationally to ideally provide more comprehensive data and access over studies regarding soil and water quality. USDA officials described the LTAR concept as a way to better broaden and tap USDA's science infrastructure. The rollout and facility designations are meant to provide a more national understanding of ARS work and force scientists to collaborate more broadly.

The full science council's report can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/…

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 1:59PM CST 12/09/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (3)
Gee...I wonder what Corporate interests are heavily represented here. I checked...St Louis must be proud.
Posted by Ric Ohge at 10:41AM CST 12/10/12
Oboma is not interested in science. He isinterested in what he can do to get control of everything he can. He is now the hero of most dicators in the world, they know they can deal with him. He will not read the report you linked to, he is just not interested in it ,it is to far beneath him. I there is nothingin it to push his socialist agenda he has no time for it. I linked to it and read it. I is a groveling attempt to get more money fo some of the screwy ideas being promoted by a bunch of liberals in univerisities who are way overpaid. Anyone who disagrees with this regime will be deamoized in his next speech and by the liberal press. This getting truly pathetic we are being lead by a potus who thinks he needs to tell us what kind of a light bulb we can use.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 5:31PM CST 12/10/12
Well Gordon, all your "Rush rants" don't change the fact he won the election while Faux News and hate radio predicted a Romney landslide. Maybe it's time the party of tea start facing reality as well as science, the 1950s are over.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:06AM CST 12/21/12
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