If passed, and we need it to be, the bipartisan America Grows Act of 2021 would significantly increase US public investment in agricultural research and development, says the Farm Journal Foundation.
The bill, introduced by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Republican Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), would increase funding for agricultural research by 5% annually on an inflation-adjusted basis at four agencies at the US Department of Agriculture for the next 10 years. The bill is modeled after the successful 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in 2016 and spurred additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There is no question that there must be more support and funding for agricultural research is badly needed – US public funding has declined in real dollars since 2003, while investments in other forms of domestic research have risen dramatically. Let’s remember that most farmers don’t have broadband, yet alone 5G – and that hurts their operations.
For more on that checkout our podcast Farm Food Facts, available wherever you listen to your podcasts. The truth is that the US has fallen behind major competitors China and Brazil in agricultural research funding, but the America Grows Act would help reverse this trend and reassert American leadership on the global stage. “The introduction of the America Grows Act could not have come at a better time,” said Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation. “Our nation’s farmers and producers face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, more frequent extreme weather events, and rising global demand for food. Increasing investment in agricultural research is absolutely critical for addressing production, nutrition, food security, and supply chain challenges across the food and farming sector.” The America Grows Act would increase funding for four agencies at the USDA: Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Agricultural research has one of the highest returns of any public investment, estimated at $17 to every $1 spent, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Food and agriculture account for nearly $3 trillion of US GDP, 1 in 6 jobs, and contribute more than $155 trillion in export value to the nation’s trade balance. We must pass this legislation and every farmer and retailer needs to send this message to Congress.