Letter
Dear Mr. Secretary:

Congratulations on your recent confirmation to be Agriculture Secretary for President Joseph R. Biden.

Thank you for your previous strong support of agricultural research, education, extension, and innovation. With the ongoing battle against COVID-19, efforts to end inequity in our food and agricultural systems, efforts to strengthen that food system in light of the pandemic, and a re- energized focus to address climate change, we strongly urge you to continue that support for increased public investments in agricultural research and development (R&D) programs.

A recent study found that U.S. public agriculture R&D spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested.1 Increased funding of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research and development programs will invest in our rural communities and give our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers the tools needed to manage current and future challenges they face, such as crop and livestock pests and diseases, invasive species, financial, and climate change. By providing solutions to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, farmers can be a part of the solution while improving our Nation’s food security.

The federal share of overall R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s, and food and agriculture lags even further behind most other federal R&D areas. Agricultural research funding at the USDA has remained fairly flat over the last fifty years.2 In contrast, funding for other Federal research agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, has increased 10- to 20-fold during the same period. Additionally, other countries, including Brazil, China, and India, are investing heavily in agricultural R&D, while the United States is falling behind.

Recently, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released an analysis of the impact of the Budget Control Act on R&D funding. They concluded that the overall rate of R&D growth from 1978-2008 was 5.7%, before the Budget Control Act was signed into law.4 The White House Office of Management and Budget’s historical data shows that R&D programs at the USDA had an overall funding growth rate of 3.5% over the same time period.5 AAAS concludes that the “cumulative “lost” federal funding may amount to $96 billion for basic and applied research, and $240 billion for total R&D. In other words, if R&D agencies had simply grown at their historical pace, the (annual) R&D budget would today be about $33 billion or 20% larger.”

Increased investment in research, education, extension, and economics programs is a crucial step for the United States to reclaim our global lead in food and agricultural science while meeting the country’s nutritional needs and rising to its climate challenges. We strongly support a balanced portfolio that includes both extramural and intramural research, competitive and capacity funding, extension and outreach, and statistics and economics.

While each of our organizations may have a particular research priority, we join together in this urgent call to substantially increase public investment in food and agricultural research and scientific innovation.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to working with you to advance science and innovation.

Sincerely,

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

Agricultural Retailers Association

Alabama Farmers Federation

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association of Mycobacterial Diseases

American Dairy Science Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Mushroom Institute

American Phytopathological Society

American Pulse Association

American Seed Trade Association

American Society for Horticultural Science

American Society for Microbiology

American Society for Nutrition

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

American Society of Agronomy

American Society of Animal Science

American Society of Plant Biologists

American Soybean Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

Aquatic Plant Management Society

Arizona Farm Bureau Federation

Associated Oregon Hazelnut Industries

Association of 1890 Research Directors

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Agriculture Assembly

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Agriculture Assembly Experiment Station Section

Biotechnology Innovation Organization

California Farm Bureau Federation

Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation

Colorado Farm Bureau

Colorado State University

Consumer Federation of America

Corn Refiners Association

Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

Crop Science Society of America

Delaware Farm Bureau

Ecological Society of America

Entomological Society of America

Fair Food Network

Farm Journal Foundation

FASS

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Florida International University

Georgia Farm Bureau

Hawaii Farm Bureau

Federation Illinois Farm Bureau

Indiana Farm Bureau

Institute of Food Technologists

Iowa State University

IR-4 Project

Kansas State University

Kentucky Farm Bureau

Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation

Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

Maine Farm Bureau Association

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation

Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Mid Atlantic Soybean Association

Missouri Farm Bureau

Mycobacterial Diseases of Animals – Multistate Initiative

National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Barley Growers Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Center for Appropriate Technology

National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research

National Corn Growers Association

National Farmers Union

National Grange

National Milk Producers Federation

National Pork Producers Council

National Sunflower Association

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

NC State University

New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation

New Jersey Farm Bureau

New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau

New York Farm Bureau

North American Meat Institute

North Carolina Farm Bureau

North Central Regional Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

North Central Weed Science Society

Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

Northeastern Weed Science Society

Oklahoma Farm Bureau

Oregon Association of Nurseries

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association

Oregon Farm Bureau

Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Penn State University

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau

Produce Marketing Association

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rural & Agriculture Council of America

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Society for Range Management

Soil Science Society of America

South Carolina Farm Bureau

South Dakota Farm Bureau

Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

Southern Weed Science Society

Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation

Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation

Texas A&M AgriLife

The Food Industry Association

The Ohio State University

U.S. Apple Association

U.S. Canola Association

Union of Concerned Scientists

United Fresh Produce Association

United States Cattlemen’s Association

University of Florida

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Iowa

University of Maine

University of Memphis

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nevada, Reno

University of North Carolina System

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

US Dairy Forage Research Center Stakeholder Committee

USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council

Virginia Farm Bureau

Virginia Tech

Washington Farm Bureau

Washington State University

Weed Science Society of America

Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

Western Society of Weed Science

Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation

Date Sent:

March 8, 2021

Sender:

Letter to USDA regarding Farmers to Families Food Box Program

Recipient:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Subject:

Agriculture research

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