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Critical Need for More Agricultural Research Funding in 2023 Farm Bill, New Report Finds

According to a recent analysis from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Farm Journal Foundation, the 2023 Farm Bill should include more funding for agricultural research & development. According to the authors of Report, this investment is critical for driving local and international growth and security.

Shivam Dwivedi
Critical Need for More Agricultural Research Funding in 2023 Farm Bill, New Report Finds
Critical Need for More Agricultural Research Funding in 2023 Farm Bill, New Report Finds

"Conducting research to increase smallholder access to improved technologies would go a long way towards alleviating global hunger," Katie Lee, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Farm Journal Foundation, tells Food Tank. "It would also benefit the United States in the long run because as countries develop, they can become strong trading partners with the United States."

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), productivity driven by research and innovation has been the primary contribution to economic growth in agriculture in the United States during the last few decades.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), from 1900 to 2011, every dollar invested in public agricultural research and development yielded $20 in economic benefits. However, according to the ERS, funding for agricultural research and development has been declining since 1995. Peggy Yih, Managing Director of the Center on Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council, attributed the reduction to the prioritization of spending in other areas such as health and energy, as well as people's growing disconnection from food production.

The analysis, according to Yih, illustrates how greater agricultural research funding can reverse this tendency. It can also help to boost economic growth, mitigate climate change, and ensure global food security. "Funding for agricultural research secures key resources to assist farmers in getting the tools they need to expand productivity, accelerate adaptation to changing conditions, mitigate rising input costs—and aid in the search for sustainable alternatives—and innovate to feed a growing global population more efficiently," Yih tells Food Tank.

"These investments can also help prevent food shortages and famines in other countries, as well as reduce US spending on humanitarian food aid." According to the authors, increasing investment in public research is required to supplement private sector innovation. The private sector, according to Lee, plays an essential role in enhancing agricultural productivity of large commodity crops. However, she claims that smaller and more specialized crops that diversify and improve food nutrition are often overlooked and underfunded.

"Research areas that benefit society as a whole but have less-clear profit potential and market ties are frequently overlooked," Lee explains. "This includes environmental, animal health, and food safety research, as well as research that benefits smallholder farmers and developing-world supply chains."  The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that oversees agricultural and food programmes that is passed every five years. The authors argue that the 2023 Farm Bill gives an opportunity to increase financing for public agriculture while also ensuring farmers have the resources and tools they need to increase production.

The paper provides a series of proposals that Congress can include in the 2023 Farm Bill to boost agricultural innovation. Among them is a direct increase in agricultural research funding for the four USDA research and statistical agencies. It also requests that the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AARDA) be reauthorized. (AgARDA). FFAR and AgARDA are two Farm Bill projects that were intended to boost agricultural research through public-private partnerships and agencies

Lee contends that increased investment for public research promotes all components of the food system, including farmer and consumer well-being. "When agriculture improves under these systems, in essence, everything improves," Lee tells Food Tank. When farmers have tools and technologies that enable them to be better prepared for shocks, they can continue to feed their families and earn a living in both good and bad years."

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