WASHINGTON, March 14, 2014 – Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates met with at least three senators Wednesday to stress the need for increased investment in agricultural research.

Gates met with Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., did not release details of his conversation with the senators but did discuss the merits of agricultural research before reporters.

Gates said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been increasingly involved with helping small farmers around the world be more productive, with the larger goal of reducing poverty. Gates said one of the goals is to ensure that all children have the nutrition they need for a healthy start in life. “Investments in agriculture research show a great way to reduce poverty,” he said. “Until the children get proper nutrition, you’re not going to end poverty.”

Gates said the world had been underinvesting in agricultural research until about 2006, and now it is the fastest growing sector of his foundation. “We’ve increased what we do,” Gates said, specifically noting the foundation has been helping more farmers get access to livestock.

Pryor said that each dollar invested in ag research generates about $20 in revenue for farmers.

Gates said that agriculture holds a firm place in the affairs of the federal government by providing funding for research, offering agricultural education, and by helping farmers get through price volatility.


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