Wheat farmers, researchers, millers and bakers have delivered a message to lawmakers in Washington. There is no more to cut from federal funding for agriculture research. The industry's annual fly-in was sponsored by the National Wheat Improvement Committee, a group of wheat scientists and stakeholders, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the North American Millers' Association and the American Bakers Association.
The industry leaders are worried that funding for public research will be down as much as 12% next year. The Agricultural Research Service is expected to cut research funding by 30%, closing 12 labs. The American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that despite demonstrated return on investment of up to $32 for every dollar invested, just 1.6% of the $142 billion annual federal investment in research goes to agriculture.
Public researchers undertake vital basic science. Public programs, particularly those that work in collaboration with land-grant universities, also focus on addressing local or regional problems. Bing Von Bergen, a wheat farmer from Moccasin, Mont., and NAWG's first vice president, says funding for research is an investment in the future of farming and the future of food.
Meanwhile Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., are attempting to establish a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, an organization designed to encourage greater investment in research, public/private research partnerships and other ventures that foster innovation. American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman is very pleased by their efforts.
“For so many years, American agriculture has met the challenge of producing better, healthier and more abundant food, feed, fuel and fiber, all while using fewer resources," Wellman said. "Moving forward, our industry will be put to the stiff test of feeding a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Time and time again, our industry has met these challenges with creativity, innovation, and groundbreaking best practices that reach far beyond the farm. These advances depend on the continued investment of both the public and private sectors in agricultural innovation. ASA and soybean farmers across the country applaud Ranking Member Roberts and Chairwoman Stabenow for their foresight in proposing the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and we look forward to working together to tackle the challenges on the horizon."