Ag groups, universities urge Congress to support research budget increases
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WASHINGTON, March, 22, 2012- A group of more than 900 organizations, companies, institutions and individuals supported President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal for USDA's entire Research, Education and Economics mission area in their letter to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.
“Budgetary decisions made today have far reaching impacts, as the scientific research funded today will be responsible for enhancing the Nation's agricultural productivity and economic prosperity in the future,” states the letter. “A strengthened commitment to investments in science for food and agriculture is essential for maintaining the nation's food, economic, and national security.”
The signatories expressly supported funding the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the fully authorized level of $700 million and endorsed the Administration's FY13 request for $325 million.
“However, maintaining a balanced research portfolio is critical; and we urge that increases in the AFRI budget not come at the expense of other agricultural research, education and economics programs.”
The National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) Executive Director Tom Van Arsdall also submitted comments to the House and Senate appropriators noting the importance of increasing federal investment in USDA research and development. He said investment in research has declined by about one-fourth since FY 2003.
“The nation has a serious food and agricultural research, extension and education deficit, just as the nation has a budget deficit,” Arsdall wrote. “A continuing deficit in terms of a commitment to federal funding for agricultural research will have detrimental effects on human and animal health and the nation's economy.”
He also emphasized that the Research Title of the Farm Bill “represents the nation's signature federal investment in the future of the food and agricultural sector,” and provides the tools necessary for other Farm Bill titles to achieve their objectives.
Arsdall further made the case for federal research investments, stating that publicly financed Research, Education and Economics is a necessary complement to private sector research.
Public research focuses on areas where the private sector does not have an incentive to invest, he said, which include when 1) the pay-off is over a long term; 2) the potential market is more speculative; 3) the effort is during the pre-technology stage; and 4) where the benefits are widely diffused.
“Public research, education and economics also act as a means to detect and resolve problems in an early stage, thus saving American taxpayer dollars in remedial and corrective actions,” he added.
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