A group of lawmakers Friday introduced legislation to amend the tax code to hopefully spur new agricultural research by creating charitable partnerships between universities and private entities, sponsors said.
The legislation was offered by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Thune, R-S.D.; and Reps. Devin Nenes, R-Calif., and Ron Kind, D-Wis.
The Charitable Agricultural Research Act – S. 1280. and H.R. 2671 – would allow for the creation of new charitable, tax-exempt agricultural research organizations that would collaborate with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct ag research.
The establishment of ag research organizations could complement existing public and private research and also create the opportunity for previously under-funded projects to be fully funded, such as projects addressing specialty crops or specific diseases, sponsors noted.
According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farm productivity has risen 158% since 1948, an increase attributed to research and implementation of new changes in the efficiency of farming practices and the use of agricultural technology.
Conversely, sponsors also pointed out that agricultural research funding has fallen behind other federal agencies since the 1970s, and with a tight budget environment, Congress needs to enact innovative legislation which will encourage private donors to help meet shortfalls in agriculture research funding, Sen. Thune said.
"This is a 'win-win' effort that builds on decades of success and momentum by continuing to pursue new research, and doing so in a cost-effective way by engaging the private sector," Sen. Stabenow added.