Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

AFBF and Farm Journal Foundation: U.S. Agriculture Needs More Public Research

News / Newsline March 25, 2021

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Farmers and ranchers need more public research funding to stay competitive globally. Micheal Clements shares more on the need.

Clements: A new report, commissioned jointly by Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation, examines how more public spending on agricultural research is needed to meet the rising global demand for food. AFBF Congressional Relations Director Scott Bennett says there are five USDA agencies funded to conduct agriculture research and development.

Bennett: The Agricultural Research Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Forest Service, The Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Between these five agencies, there’s about $4.2 billion for agricultural research, compared to a similar $4.1 billion 11 years ago in 2010.

Clements: Bennett says the United States could lose its competitive advantage in agricultural production and exports because of stagnant public research funding.

Bennett: Other countries are boosting their public investment in agriculture. China became the largest funder of public agricultural research and development globally in 2009 with their funding increasing significantly since then. India and Brazil have also recently increased their public agricultural research and development funding. It is imperative that we increase our public research, so our farmers have the latest and greatest tools in order to feed the world.

Clements: Bennett says focusing research in six specific areas would best benefit farmers and ranchers.

Bennett: Crop breeding, crop protection, animal health, animal disease and foodborne illness, fifth is climate research, and last but not least, food and agricultural supply chains. Shocks like COVID-19 expose vulnerabilities in our food systems. Research on handling a pandemic within the agricultural sector is currently very limited since they occur infrequently. More investment is needed to improve supply chain resilience.

Clements: Find the report at fb.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.

Read a one-page summary of the report here, or the full report here

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