Budzinski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Increase Agricultural Research Funding

Aug 28, 2023
Agriculture
Press

URBANA, IL — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (D-IL-13) announced the introduction of her newest bipartisan bill, the America Grows Act, which would increase our nation’s investments in agricultural research. She made the announcement during a roundtable at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with the Farm Journal Foundation which focused on the importance of agricultural innovation. 

The America Grows Act would require a five percent annual funding increase each year for the next ten years for research activities driven by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) are leading companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. 

“Every year, the hard work and productivity of family farmers in Central and Southern Illinois drives American dominance in the global agricultural market. But for more than a decade, Congress has allowed China and the European Union to surpass us in funding agricultural research and development,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “If we want to continue to lead the world in food production and food security, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is. That’s why I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to up our investments in the incredible work being done at institutions like the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to ensure that the United States continues to own the 21st century agricultural economy.”  

“Investments in agricultural research are vital to sustaining our safe, affordable, and abundant food supply,” said German Bollero, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. “Our land-grant mission ensures research and discovery are put into practice with partners across the food and ag sector to drive economic development while we train the next generation of ag innovators.”

Expanding research opportunities at the USDA, including through the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will bolster America’s competitiveness in international markets, advance new sustainability and engineering technologies, develop more food-based solutions for rising global population rates and prevent risks for plant and animal disease transmissions. 

The U.S. share of total agriculture research investments globally among high-income countries as a group has declined from 35 percent in 1960 to less than 25 percent by 2013. By comparison, in the past 30 years, Chinese investments in public agriculture research have risen eight-fold, with China now the world’s largest public funder of agriculture research. According to a 2021 report jointly commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farm Journal Foundation, U.S. public spending on food and agriculture has been flat for the past decade, threatening the competitiveness of U.S food systems, a growing concern as the global population may reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production needs will increase by 60-70 percent.

The America Grows Act of 2023 authorizes a five percent annual funding increase each year, plus inflation, for the next 10 years for research activities at USDA, specifically at the:

  • Agriculture Research Service (ARS) – USDA’s chief in-house scientific research agency with 90+ locations nationwide and overseas. 
  • National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – which funds external research through a nationwide network of land-grant colleges and universities, agricultural experiment stations, schools of forestry, schools of veterinary medicine, and cooperative extension experts. 
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) – which collects and reports statistics on U.S. agriculture, such as the farm census, crop forecasts, and price estimates. 
  • Economic Research Service (ERS) – which provides economic and policy analysis on farming, ranching, food, conservation practices, farm management, commodity markets and rural economic development.

The bill has been endorsed by over 100 organizations, including the University of Illinois, the Alliance to End Hunger, American Dairy Science Association, Crop Science Society of America, Farm Journal Foundation, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers Union.

The full text of the America Grows Act of 2023 can be found here

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