Ag researchers call for funding improvements

Agricultural researchers testified on how farm bill investments need to go further during a Senate Ag Committee hearing Tuesday.

Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young says federal investments in ag research have declined by a third in the past two decades and have fallen behind other countries.

“This declining investment means that we are missing critical opportunities to capitalize on the powerful potential of our world-class scientists to conduct the type of high-risk, high-reward research necessary to meet the overlapping and rapidly emerging challenges our farmers face.”

Dr. Katy Martin Rainey from Purdue University testified on behalf of the American Seed Trade Association and asked lawmakers to support innovative genetic research and facility upgrades.

“U.S. scientists and educators are asked to perform 21st-century science in facilities constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, and this negatively impacts recruitment of the best and most diverse talent to study critical topics in food security,” she says.

Jason Rowntree, a researcher from Michigan State University who’s led nearly $50 million in USDA grant research, outlined funding gaps for sustainability projects.

“There is a large gap between the demand for these projects and available funding,” he says.  “In my experience, only about 10 percent of farmer and academic-led sustainability grants are successfully funded, while half the submissions were worthy of funding.”

Committee leaders also called for supporting land-grant universities and focused funding priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill.

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